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Massachusetts Bill Limits Time Allowed to Challenge Foreclosure

Improper foreclosures conducted by some financial institutions are part of the legacy of the left by the financial crisis. A foreclosure that is not conducted in accordance to state law leaves the new purchaser of the property in the impossible position of not having marketable title when they go to sell it again.

It’s a catch-22. On one hand individuals who have had their homes improperly foreclosed upon need to have a process to challenge the seizure and regain the property. On the other, there is a compelling interest that title to properties be free of encumbrances and that buyers of foreclosed properties be able to refinance or  to confidently offer their properties on the open market should they decide to sell them at some point.

The Massachusetts legislature is seeking to rectify the dilemma with the passage of a bill that will limit the length of time that owners that have been foreclosed upon have to challenge the process in the courts to regain their homes. It does not limit their ability to sue the financial institution for monetary damages.

Opponents of the law are calling on Governor Deval Patrick to step in.

New England Conference of the NAACP President Juan Cofield, Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, and others community leaders wrote a letter to the Governor requesting that he veto or amend the foreclosure bill on his desk that they say would “codify illegal, racially discriminatory lending practices which differentially harmed communities of color.”

“The finance industry must not be absolved of accountability for their unjust practices,” said the Aug. 7 letter.

Patrick has until Monday to make a decision and take action.

About Author: Derek Templeton

Derek Templeton is an attorney based in Dallas, Texas. He practices in the areas of real estate, financial services, and general corporate transactional law. His experience includes time as an Attorney Adviser for the U.S. Small Business Administration and as General Counsel for a nonprofit organization in Dallas. A self-avowed "policy junkie," he has a keen interest in the effect that evolving federal policy has on the mortgage, default servicing, and greater housing industries.

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