Legislators Need To Look At Streamlining The Foreclosure Process

New York state needs to make up its mind if it wants foreclosures to proceed quickly or slowly.

Twice at the end of the legislative session in June, lawmakers voted on bills that dealt with foreclosures.

One of the bills would allow a homeowner to file a defense challenging a bank’s standing to file a foreclosure action at the last minute, an action Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, said could add a month or two to a foreclosure process that is already the longest in the nation at slightly more than three years on average. Goodell said on the Assembly floor that allowing such a late claim of standing by the bank could make the problem of zombie properties even worse.

Sure enough, less than 24 hours later, the Zombie Property Remediation Act was debated on the state Assembly floor. The legislation grants new powers to municipalities to file a suit against a bank and force a foreclosure or settlement of a mortgage if a home has been verified to be vacant regardless of whether or not the home’s mortgage was actually in default. The act requires banks to try to wrap a foreclosure up within a year — timelines that can’t be reached as a result of legislation passed a decade ago at the height of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

It’s as if state legislators never read the bills to see how they contradict each other or complicate an already complicated process. We agree with Goodell’s suggestion that the legislature should consider legislation to streamline the foreclosure process. Too much competing legislation has been passed over the years for the process to be anything but a tangled, confused mess.

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