From the APP:
Four lenders can resume foreclosing on homeowners who have defaulted on their mortgages after a state judge ruled Monday that she was confident the companies will no longer engage in so-called robo-signing.
General Equity Judge Mary C. Jacobson said Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have upgraded their foreclosure procedures enough to ensure that their customers will get a fair shake.
The companies were found in compliance seven months after state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner essentially placed a moratorium on foreclosures until it was clear that lenders weren’t robo-signing documents — a process in which company employees or contractors, inundated with foreclosures, sign off on documents so fast that they don’t know what they are signing.
Judges overseeing the foreclosure process said the practice meant there was no way for them to know if an affidavit or certification was, in fact, true.
Rabner’s order gave homeowners some breathing room; the number of foreclosures filed in New Jersey fell from 58,000 in 2010 to 6,000 through July 2011, said Winnie Comfort, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey judiciary.
But observers have said the latest ruling threatens to contribute to the slumping real estate market. Thousands of foreclosed homes could come on the market at a time when home prices continue to fall.
When the company can’t modify the homeowner’s mortgage, “it is important for the surrounding community that banks move forward with foreclosure sales to prevent problems with vacant and unkempt homes,” Friedlander said. “Now that the New Jersey court has validated Wells Fargo’s foreclosure processes, we will resume these practices for the benefit of New Jersey’s communities.”