Blame the big banks, blame whoever said they were “too big to fail,” or their corporate executives who were “too big to jail.” Blame the crooks on Wall Street who thought sub-prime lending was a good idea, or blame whoever you want—just don’t blame the couples and families who made the financial decisions to purchase property beyond their means. At least, that’s what a recent Utah Judge’s ruling tends to look like to a Salt Lake City real estate lawyer upon reading the headlines reporting that foreclosed-upon residents can’t be chucked out after years of not paying their mortgage.
But before we make snap judgments about who we can and can’t blame, it’s probably better to get a few more facts on the story. In this couple’s case, for example, Fifth District Court Judge Jeffrey Wilcox ruled that “because Bank of America’s foreclosure arm, ReconTrust, did not follow state law in foreclosing on Samuel and Courtney Adamson, they could not be evicted despite their lack of mortgage and tax payments.” This is when your Salt Lake City real estate lawyer leans over and reminds you that not following the rules (i.e. the law) can land you in a pickle.
Sandy Real Estate Attorney Find Further Aftershocks from Market
Bank of America can probably handle this pickle though—it’s wriggled itself out of far sourer and stickier situations before, after all. But what Judge Wilcox’s ruling does do is “further roils the legal waters in Utah” where BoA has been fighting lawsuits over whether it broke Utah law in its foreclosure strategies during the “real estate market meltdown” that began seven years ago. So what actually went down with the Adamsons? After attempting to negotiate a new mortgage when originally foreclosed upon, the couple fought back when BoA attempted to use its own personnel to carry out the foreclosure—something which Utah law stipulates can only be done by a Salt Lake City real estate lawyer (or any Utah attorney, really) or a title company. BoA says it was following the law—the Texas law, where its foreclosure arm is headquartered, and that U.S. bank laws have said that’s okay.
Well, apparently Utah doesn’t agree, when “the Utah Supreme Court ruled that Utah laws and not those of another state govern foreclosures here.” Balking at the ruling, BoA is trying to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court while currently waiting for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a definitive ruling. And in the Adamson’s case, the judge declared the foreclosure sale void because it didn’t comply with the Utah state laws, so the Adamsons can stay. For now, BoA won’t give up so easily; after all, their tenacity in surviving what should have been the biggest bank failure in a century seven years ago shows some grit, even if their survival wasn’t wholly merit-based. In the meantime, though, Samuel and Courtney are among a few Utah families who feel that BoA may be finally being held accountable for some of its unscrupulous manipulation of the law.
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