Levels of Mortgage-Related Litigation Remain Elevated
The level of litigation tied to mortgage-related issues remains elevated, according to Mortgage Daily's First Quarter 2013 Mortgage Litigation Index. A decline in foreclosure-related actions was offset by an increase in other categories. There were 227 mortgage-related cases tracked that had some activity in the first quarter. While the count was little changed from Q4 2012, activity remained elevated based on historical data. A year earlier, 216 cases were tracked. The busiest category was foreclosures, though activity sank from the record set in the first quarter.
An accompanying white paper from Ballard Spahr LLP indicated that foreclosure case count was in line with foreclosure filings during the period. As a result, the number of foreclosure-related claims filed is normalizing and the number of related claims has decreased significantly, the white paper stated. Cases involving loan modifications saw a big drop-off, which the white paper attributed to, among other things, reduced foreclosure activity.
"Failed loan modification efforts continue to be a frustration for consumers and we not only expect to see the number of consumer advanced loan modification claims rise, but also anticipate regulatory involvement and enforcement actions," the White Paper stated.
In addition to MBS litigation, categories to see increased activity included regulation, commercial mortgages and investor.
The White Paper indicated that consumer-advanced claims dominated first-quarter activity, suggesting that the phenomena that led to the surge in consumer litigation in the past few years—including a record high 264 mortgage-related claims in 2012—will continue.
"Thus, while we anticipate a shift in the types of actions pursued resulting in a normalization of previously hot litigation areas, we predict a continued dominance of consumer-advanced claims and a volume of claims similar to 2012," Ballard Spahr partner Martin C. Bryce, Jr., wrote in the White Paper.
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