Fast-Track Foreclosure’s Spreading Across Nation in Blight Fight

The volume of first time Foreclosures in the U.S. have declined. Still, houses vacated by owners who did not feel they could save their homes, continue to plague major cities across the United States. Fast-Track foreclosure laws are being passed by several states, including Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and now Maryland to reduce the blight.

Almost a year after Ohio passed its fast-track foreclosure law, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan also signed a similar law, joining in the struggle against loss of property values, vandalism and rise in crime that accompany vacant homes. Per Delegate Marvin Holmes, sponsor of the house bill in Maryland, “The longer properties remain vacant – the greater the chance problems will occur.”

According to Robert Klein, founder and chairman of Community Blight Solutions, “having a property vacant and abandoned for two years is the wrong thing for community blight. So now we’re seeing a number other states looking at it closely and considering it.”

Reactions to Fast-Track foreclosure laws are contradictory. While most can agree that blight harms communities, some are not sure the fast-track laws will prevent it. Fast-Track Laws don’t apply to every foreclosure, or to every vacant house.

To be fast-tracked in Ohio, a home must

  1. carry a mortgage on which the homeowner is in monetary default – behind on payments.
  2. The legal occupant must have moved out.
  3. A lender then has the option, but not the obligation, to ask a judge for a streamlined foreclosure process and a swifter sale of the property. That sale may be conducted by a private selling officer instead of a sheriff.

    The law also requires, if the property has been abandoned, that clear boarding be used on windows and doors, instead of plywood. It is believed clear board (type of plastic, held by bars across interior) adds a few safety features: neighbors can see if something is going on in abandoned home and report it, firemen can find their way in case of a fire, and the clear boarding is harder to pry off than plywood, making it less likely to be used as a flop house for drugs and other criminal activity.

    Unless you are trying to sell your home in one of the blighted neighborhoods, the fast-track legislation will be unlikely to benefit you or other homeowners on the verge of losing their homes. It is important to know whether the new legislation in your state means you need to make faster decisions on how to save your home from foreclosure if you are in default.

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