"Zepheniah Taylor lost his Dorchester three-decker to foreclosure two times in 17 months. Now the 59-year-old grandfather has returned home to stay. The scenario, once implausible, is becoming more common in the crazed and fast-changing world of foreclosures.
Cut, cut, cut....the lenders are so messed up in so many ways. The question now is who will blink first and cry uncle......
Hundreds — and possibly thousands — of Massachusetts homeowners are facing back-to-back foreclosures as lenders realize there were problems with property titles the first time around. Those lenders, often unable to obtain title insurance, are opting to start from scratch with what is being called a “re-foreclosure.’’
The prospect of going through a foreclosure all over again may seem nightmarish for homeowners, but in a growing number of cases the do-overs are creating opportunities for them to repossess their homes.
Such was the case with Taylor, who decided to fight the second foreclosure. The tactic paid off: He won the right to repurchase the home at current market value.
“I’m starting over fresh,’’ said the father of eight and grandfather of nine. “It feels good. It is a new chance.’’
Not all tenants enjoy such an outcome, however, and those who receive notice of a re-foreclosure often are confused.
“They are weirded out,’’ said Zoe Cronin, a staff attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services, which provides legal representation to low-income people. Cronin said she knows of about a dozen recent re-foreclosures. “I’ve met former owners [who are] saying, ‘What is this? I got a letter saying I own my house again,’ ’’ she said.
The recent burst in re-foreclosures can be traced to a 2009 Massachusetts Land Court ruling that called into question the validity of a home’s ownership in cases where foreclosure paperwork was incomplete or inaccurate.
The finding is now being reviewed by the state Supreme Judicial Court. Its decision could determine whether tens of thousands of homes with foreclosures in their backgrounds have valid titles.
At issue is who technically owns a property on the day it is seized by a lender. It’s often difficult to know for sure because during the housing boom millions of mortgages were bundled into bonds and sold to investors. That process, repeated over and over, created a twisted paper trail. As the number of foreclosures increased dramatically across the nation, the morass worsened.