Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button
Technorati button
Reddit button
Myspace button
Linkedin button
Webonews button
Delicious button
Digg button
Flickr button
Stumbleupon button
Newsvine button

Zombie foreclosures claw higher in 10 states


Even as the U.S. housing market healed as a whole, zombie foreclosures clawed their way higher in 10 states over the past year, creating a swath of lingering eyesores and unresolved financial turmoil, according to data released Thursday.

Nationally, the number of zombie properties — homes that have started, but not completed, the foreclosure process and have been vacated by the owners — dropped to about 141,000 in the second quarter, down 16% from the year-earlier period, according to RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure marketplace. But 10 states saw zombie properties climb higher over the past year.

These aren’t the trudging monsters that are lucky to stumble into a mouthful of brains. Rather, zombie foreclosures sprang up 58% over the past year in New Jersey, 56% in Delaware, and 21% in Maryland.

Most of the states with more zombies are those that have seen foreclosure activity rise over the past year. Now that the foreclosure deluge is waning, banks have turned their attention back to properties that have been sitting in limbo for some time.

Looking nationally, foreclosure activity has dropped as the housing market and prices rebounded over the past year. Also, some states have passed legislation to help speed up the foreclosure process for abandoned properties, and some local governments are using land banks to acquire troubled properties, and either fix them up or demolish them.

The problem with zombie foreclosure is that they can be eyesores, driving down neighborhoods property values. Also, they’re a non-performing asset for banks. And governments are missing out of property tax revenue to the tune of more than $400 million, according to RealtyTrac.

“Zombie foreclosures are the most visible lingering negative effect of the Great Recession housing crisis,” said Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac. “For the banks, these zombies represent another black eye from a public perception standpoint.”

–Ruth Mantell

Follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthMantell
Follow the Capitol Report blog on Twitter @CapitolReport

Check out these Capitol Report links:

Obama becomes mocker-in-chief of climate deniers, and more must-reads
Anti-Uber protest snarls D.C. traffic

Article source: http://blogs.marketwatch.com/capitolreport/2014/06/26/zombie-foreclosures-claw-higher-in-10-states/

Medical malpractice lawsuits plummet in Wisconsin














Haven’t activated your account yet?


<!–

Already subscribed?

Login
–>



JSOnline  Milwaukee Journal SentinelJSOnline  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel



A family album shows happier times with Colleen Daniels and her children.


Three years after her mother died, Sarah Schuh received a shocking call: It wasn’t the car accident that had killed her mom, the caller said. She died because of “mess-ups” in the emergency room.

The caller: Zulfiqar Ali, the emergency room doctor who had treated Schuh’s mother on the day she crashed her Honda CR-V into a marshy area near the Sheboygan River.

In almost any other state, that kind of disclosure would have likely paved the way for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Not in Wisconsin.

State laws and court rulings have combined to erect roadblocks at the doors of Wisconsin courthouses, placing strict limits on who can sue for medical malpractice, how much money they can collect and where the money will come from.

“There is no medical malpractice in Wisconsin,” said Charles Stierman, once a top Milwaukee malpractice lawyer who stopped taking such cases in 2000. “Who wants to tilt at windmills?”

The number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Wisconsin fell to 140 last year, a drop of more than 50% since 1999, court records show. Malpractice lawyers blame the decline on state laws that they say are skewed in favor of doctors and hospitals; medical groups contend that malpractice suits have declined because health care professionals have gotten better at their jobs.

At the same time, a state-run malpractice insurance fund — created because of fears that medical malpractice insurance premiums would skyrocket without it — has grown to more than $1.15 billion, a total larger than all the money it has paid out during its entire 39-year history.

“).css({
font: “11px Verdana”,
position: “absolute”,
display: “none”,
border: “1px solid #ccc”,
padding: “2px”,
“background-color”: “#ccc”,
opacity: 0.80
}).appendTo(“body”);

$(“#assets-data”).bind(“plothover”, function (event, pos, item) {
var x = item.datapoint[0].toFixed(0),
y = item.datapoint[1].toFixed(0);

$(“#tooltip”).html(“$” + y + ” million in ” + x)
.css({top: item.pageY+5, left: item.pageX+5})
.fadeIn(200);
});

$(“#assets-data”).bind(“plotclick”, function (event, pos, item) {
if (item) {
$(“#clickdata”).text(” – click point ” + item.dataIndex + ” in ” + item.series.label);
plot.highlight(item.series, item.datapoint);
}
});

});

Yet Schuh and her brother and sister are unable to sue for medical malpractice in the death of their mother, Colleen Daniels, because a state law allows only spouses and minor children to sue for loss of companionship in a medical malpractice death case.

Daniels was divorced, and the youngest of her three children, Katherine Daniels, was 18 — no longer a minor, although she was living at home and attending Kiel High School when her mom died.

So today, even though state regulators have said their mother died after a breathing tube was mistakenly inserted into her esophagus — her food pipe — instead of her windpipe, Wisconsin’s legal system offers Daniels’ children no relief.

“They should have to pay for what they did to her and what they’ve done to us,” said Katherine Daniels, now 21, and expecting her first child. “I mean, I was so young.”

Florida is the only other state with a similar ban.

No such ban exists for other wrongful deaths in Wisconsin, such as those caused by drunken drivers or other negligent acts. In those types of cases, Daniels’ grown children would have had every right to file a lawsuit.

“The rule would not apply if you died because you were hit by a Pepsi truck or a Coke truck,” said Paul Scoptur, a Milwaukee plaintiffs’ lawyer and trial consultant. “To deny accountability when someone is killed is wrong.”

An unnecessary death

Daniels lost control of her Honda CR-V for unknown reasons while driving on Highway 67 on March 19, 2011. It flipped over a guardrail and landed in a marshy area near the Sheboygan River. Emergency personnel performed CPR to revive her at the scene and took her to Calumet Medical Center in Chilton, where she was alert.

Her daughters happened to drive by the accident scene shortly after their mother had been rushed to the hospital. “I just saw them pulling her car out of the river….I was hysterical,” Katherine Daniels recalled.


Photo Gallery: Daughters remember mother’s tragic ordeal

By the time they arrived at the hospital, Schuh said, Ali, the emergency room doctor, told them their mother had taken a dramatic turn for the worse: Her heart had stopped beating, and she had a 1% chance of living.

Daniels was rushed via helicopter to Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, where she died three days later.

In interviews with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and in testimony before the state Medical Examining Board, Ali repeatedly acknowledged that errors were made in treating Daniels and described a hectic scene at the Calumet emergency room that included arguments with a paramedic and others over whether the doctor had mistakenly inserted a breathing tube into Daniels’ esophagus. Ultimately, a paramedic inserted a second tube into Daniels, without Ali’s permission, because he believed the doctor had erred.

Although he called Schuh three years later to tell her that mistakes had been made, Ali denies making any errors himself.

A hospital review committee reviewed Ali’s actions and concluded that ” the patient died and there was significant variation from the standard of care that was preventable,” according to a 2011 letter to state regulators from Mark Kehrberg, chief medical officer at Affinity Health System. Calumet Medical is part of Affinity.

Affinity, through a public relations agency, declined to comment because of “pending legal action involving Dr. Ali.” Ali was fired by the hospital shortly after treating Daniels and is suing for discrimination. Kehrberg’s letter states that Ali was not fired because of the Daniels case.

The billion-dollar cushion

Because Wisconsin laws are unusually protective of doctors and other health care professionals, it is often difficult to find a lawyer willing to consider taking on a medical malpractice case.

One of the biggest roadblocks, lawyers say, is the state’s malpractice insurance fund, called the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund.

Its assets have ballooned from $501 million in June 1999 to more than $1.15 billion in March of this year. Doctors, hospitals and others in the health care industry are required to pay into the fund, which in turn pays malpractice claims and verdicts that exceed $1 million.

Fund officials argue the money is needed in case a series of medical mistakes results in major payouts. But malpractice lawyers say the huge treasury instead enables private insurance companies to dig in and fight claims even when malpractice is obvious, because the most a private insurer would have to pay out if it lost a multimillion-dollar verdict is $1 million.

“They’ve adopted a scorched-earth approach” to fighting claims, said Eric Farnsworth, a Madison lawyer who represents plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases.

The defense won 94.47% of medical malpractice cases that went to verdict nationwide from 2008 to 2012, according to a survey by PIAA, a trade organization for the medical malpractice insurance industry.

Plaintiffs received awards in four of the 18 cases decided by Wisconsin juries last year, according to state Medical Mediation Panels records. The biggest jury award was for $1.8 million, although that was lowered to $250,000 because of a state law limiting damages on state employees.

So it makes sense for insurance companies to fight claims in Wisconsin instead of simply paying them or settling cases out of court. “It’s not a large gamble, especially when you consider the percentage of cases won” by plaintiffs, said Michael Matray, editor of Medical Liability Monitor, a Chicago-based trade journal. “It’s ridiculously low.”

While insurance companies fight medical malpractice complaints throughout the country, there is more pressure elsewhere to settle them out of court, because going to trial could result in a mega-verdict, which in turn can trigger even messier legal actions. Wisconsin’s Patients Compensation Fund eliminates those concerns.

“).css({
font: “11px Verdana”,
position: “absolute”,
display: “none”,
border: “1px solid #ccc”,
padding: “2px”,
“background-color”: “#ccc”,
opacity: 0.80
}).appendTo(“body”);

$(“#mediation-data”).bind(“plothover”, function (event, pos, item) {
var x = item.datapoint[0].toFixed(0),
y = item.datapoint[1].toFixed(0);

$(“#tooltip”).html(y + ” requests in ” + x)
.css({top: item.pageY+5, left: item.pageX+5})
.fadeIn(200);
});

$(“#mediation-data”).bind(“plotclick”, function (event, pos, item) {
if (item) {
$(“#clickdata”).text(” – click point ” + item.dataIndex + ” in ” + item.series.label);
plot.highlight(item.series, item.datapoint);
}
});

});

“The fund has a huge effect on the overall Wisconsin medical liability market — no question about it,” said Howard Friedman, president of the health care professional liability group for ProAssurance Corp., an Alabama firm that has the largest share (nearly 30%) of the medical malpractice insurance market in Wisconsin. “It enables the stability of the market because you don’t have the shock losses.”

Friedman and other insurance executives say their companies pay claims for medical malpractice that are justified without putting the claimant through a wringer. But if a doctor argues against settling, the insurer considers it good business to listen to the client — the doctor.

“We’re a company that defends physicians,” Friedman said. “That’s our reputation.”

The state malpractice insurance fund provides unlimited coverage to more than 15,600 physicians, hospitals and some other health care providers. It was created in 1975 amid fears that a crisis in medical malpractice insurance would strike Wisconsin and make it difficult to keep good doctors here.

Seven other states have similar funds. Wisconsin, though, is the only state where every doctor and hospital must pay premiums into the fund and where victims of medical malpractice are guaranteed to collect the full judgment awarded, including lost future wages.

“).css({
font: “11px Verdana”,
position: “absolute”,
display: “none”,
border: “1px solid #ccc”,
padding: “2px”,
“background-color”: “#ccc”,
opacity: 0.80
}).appendTo(“body”);

$(“#payouts-data”).bind(“plothover”, function (event, pos, item) {
var x = item.datapoint[0].toFixed(0),
y = item.datapoint[1].toFixed(2);

$(“#tooltip”).html(“$” + y + ” in ” + x)
.css({top: item.pageY+5, left: item.pageX+5})
.fadeIn(200);
});

$(“#payouts-data”).bind(“plotclick”, function (event, pos, item) {
if (item) {
$(“#clickdata”).text(” – click point ” + item.dataIndex + ” in ” + item.series.label);
plot.highlight(item.series, item.datapoint);
}
});

});

Hidden assets elsewhere

Patricia Epstein, a Madison attorney who represents health care providers and who used to practice in New York, said physicians in that state will sometimes put ownership of their homes in a spouse’s name to protect the property from litigation.

Also, Mark Grapentine, lobbyist for the Wisconsin Medical Society, notes that in other states, physicians’ trade groups hold seminars teaching doctors how to hide their assets from verdicts. Here, there is no risk of losing a home, even in a rare mega-verdict.

“Wisconsin is a very good state for doctors and protecting their personal assets,” Epstein said.

Grapentine considers the fund good for doctors and patients, because it protects doctors while ensuring that a wronged patient will actually be paid any large, court-ordered award. “In some states you’ll have a gigantic award given to a plaintiff who will then exit the courtroom and look around and there’s no one there to write the check,” he said.

Before injured parties can receive a nickel from the fund, however, they must first collect $1 million from a medical malpractice insurance company, which is no easy task.

“These cases always become a World War III battle,” said Patrick Dunphy, a Brookfield plaintiffs’ lawyer. “That raises the costs. Combined with the caps and the difficulty of winning medical malpractice cases, the ultimate effect is that there is decreased access to the courthouse.”

Collecting on a medical malpractice claim has gotten more difficult nationwide — the number of claims paid dropped 39% from 2003 to 2013. In Wisconsin, the decline was more than 66%, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank, a registry maintained by the federal government.

Meanwhile, the number of issues reported to the federal database increased substantially. The issues — known as adverse actions — include reports of medical errors, loss of privileges and disciplinary actions. In Wisconsin there were 38 adverse action reports involving doctors filed in 2003, a figure that increased to 105 in 2013.

“).css({
font: “11px Verdana”,
position: “absolute”,
display: “none”,
border: “1px solid #ccc”,
padding: “2px”,
“background-color”: “#ccc”,
opacity: 0.80
}).appendTo(“body”);

$(“#wisc-data”).bind(“plothover”, function (event, pos, item) {
var x = item.datapoint[0].toFixed(0),
y = item.datapoint[1].toFixed(0);

$(“#tooltip”).html(y + ” cases in ” + x)
.css({top: item.pageY+5, left: item.pageX+5})
.fadeIn(200);
});

$(“#wisc-data”).bind(“plotclick”, function (event, pos, item) {
if (item) {
$(“#clickdata”).text(” – click point ” + item.dataIndex + ” in ” + item.series.label);
plot.highlight(item.series, item.datapoint);
}
});

});

Dunphy, though, has shown that under certain circumstances, large malpractice awards are possible in Wisconsin. In 2008, he won a $35.3 million jury verdict on behalf of a newborn who suffered a severe brain injury because of an error by a Waukesha Memorial Hospital nurse.The bulk of the award was for medical costs, a category that is not capped by state law.

From its inception in 1975 through the end of 2013, the state’s malpractice insurance fund has paid 667 claims totaling $845.7 million, with the amount paid varying widely from year to year.

It paid out $23.5 million to five people in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013.

The fund is so rich that if it had to pay every claim currently pending — plus the claims that its actuary anticipates may be filed — it would still have $532.3 million in its coffers.

Regardless, Randy Blumer, a former deputy insurance commissioner whose term on the fund’s 13-member board recently ended, rejects the suggestion that the fund is too big. Blumer said it is difficult to predict how much money the fund needs because malpractice claims frequently are not paid until several years after the event occurs. “It is similar to predicting weather patterns,” Blumer said.

Still, the board is lowering the premium rates by 10% effective Wednesday. Physicians will pay annual premiums to the fund of between $1,311 and $8,653 depending on their specialty and the amount of surgery they perform.

Limiting the damage

— Cary Spivak

Also working in doctors’ favor in medical malpractice cases is Wisconsin’s $750,000 cap on “noneconomic” damages — for instance, claims that malpractice caused pain and suffering or loss of companionship. Wisconsin is one of about 35 states with such caps, according to A.M. Best Co., an insurance company rating firm.

Wisconsin has had various ceilings on medical malpractice damages since 1986. A $350,000 cap was enacted in 1995, which with inflation adjustments rose to $445,775 before it was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 2005 as being arbitrary and violating the equal protection provision of the state constitution.

State lawmakers led by then-Rep. Curt Gielow (R-Mequon), a former hospital administrator, then approved a $450,000 cap that was vetoed by then-Gov. Jim Doyle. The Democratic governor ultimately approved the $750,000 cap in 2006.

Gielow, now chief executive at Concordia University’s campus in Ann Arbor, Mich., said in an interview that caps are needed “to give surety to the insurance market.”

The state also caps noneconomic damages in any wrongful death case at $500,000, and it bans punitive damages in medical malpractice cases.

The cap on malpractice damages is even lower if the doctor is employed by the state, a category that includes the more than 1,350 who practice at Madison’s University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics or associated facilities. Because the UW doctors are state employees — all state employees are covered by the cap — the ceiling on damage awards of any type is $250,000 per defendant, a cap that applies even if a doctor’s negligence results in a lifetime injury that will require millions of dollars of future treatment.

“This is a great place to be a physician,” said Farnsworth, the Madison lawyer, who is challenging the $250,000 cap in appellate court. “They have de facto immunity.”

Milwaukee lawyer Ric Domnitz argues that all of the damage caps lack logic.

The cap would not apply if a doctor — or any other person — gets drunk, climbs behind the wheel of a car and runs over a pedestrian, resulting in the victim’s becoming a paraplegic, Domnitz said. If the same injury were to result from negligence during surgery, even if the negligence were caused by drug or alcohol use, the noneconomic damages would be capped.

“If you’re given the privilege of practicing medicine…how are you on the hook for less money than if you make a mistake and you roll through a stop sign or you blow through a red light?” Domnitz said. In the car accident, “you’re on the hook for everything. But the same guy gets protected with a $750,000 cap if he injures you with a scalpel in his hand.”

In most cases, lawyers for plaintiffs take medical malpractice cases on a contingency basis, meaning they get paid only if they win. The lawyers generally pay the expenses required to bring the suit — money that is recouped only if they win.

It generally costs at least $60,000 to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, a figure that could easily hit six figures if the case goes to trial. So attorneys say they frequently shy away from cases that do not have a large amount of economic damages, such as medical bills or lost wages.

The fees that lawyers can receive in a medical malpractice case are also capped by state law. They are limited to one-third of the first $1 million won, plus 20% of any awards over that amount. If a case is settled within 180 days, the top fee drops to 25%. Attorneys’ fees in other lawsuits, such as car accident claims, are not capped.

“Ultimately law is a business,” said Ann S. Jacobs, a Milwaukee plaintiffs’ lawyer who is president-elect of the state’s trial lawyer association. ” …So if it’s going to cost you $60,000 to $80,000 in costs but the most you’re going to get in fees is (about) $200,000 and costs or a little less, it’s not a great investment.”

The number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Wisconsin dropped from 294 in 1999 to 140 last year.

The decrease has driven some lawyers out of the medical malpractice litigation business. “They’re not as willing to take them on as they were many years ago partly because (of) the caps,” said James Gutglass, a veteran Milwaukee defense lawyer.

While lawyers contend that’s largely because of the strict state laws, Ruth Heitz, general counsel for the State Medical Society, said doctors and hospitals should get much of the credit.

“Some of the decline in cases is due to doctors’ getting it right, doing the right kinds of things,” Heitz said. “There are fewer incidents of medical negligence.”

Heitz argues that the caps and other tort reforms are needed to keep the Wisconsin health care system strong.

The Wisconsin system “works fairly well for almost everyone,” Heitz said. “There are some claims that are excluded, but in looking at the entire picture for the medical liability system, it tries to strike that balance so that you have health care access.”

A circuitous route

That is a tough argument for the children of Colleen Daniels to accept. Before her death, Daniels worked two jobs, and the family’s home was in the midst of foreclosure — and Katherine Daniels says the situation has deteriorated since her mother’s death.

“My mom was my biggest financial supporter,” said Katherine, now 21 and a housekeeper at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake.

On the last day before the statute of limitations on the case would have expired, a highly regarded medical malpractice lawyer, Michael End, reluctantly agreed to file a request for mediation on behalf of the family. State law requires the request for mediation before a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed.

End is mapping a circuitous route to the courthouse by seeking a pain-and-suffering award for Daniels’ estate, thus bypassing the ban on suits by adult children.

“Mike End is the patron saint of lost causes,” said Stierman, the lawyer who stopped taking medical malpractice cases in 2000.

It’s not an easy case. Not only will End have to prove a breathing tube was put into Daniels’ esophagus; he’ll also have to convince a jury that Daniels was aware of the error and felt the air surging into her stomach. He’ll also try to prove that Daniels heard Ali, the ER doctor, and others argue over whether she was being treated properly.

Without that, it will be difficult to show that she suffered and collect damages on behalf of the estate.

“It’s much more difficult to prove pain and suffering than it would be to show loss of companionship,” End said.

Even if he wins, state law caps the award at $750,000, a portion of which would pay End’s fee and expenses.

‘Absolutely wrong’

Daniels’ children would never have reached out to End had Ali not contacted Schuh in March. Ali said he made the call because he felt the family should know what happened.

He said that even he was amazed to learn later that Daniels’ children could not sue him directly.

“To me it was unimaginable,” Ali said during an interview at the recently opened Lisbon Urgent Care in Milwaukee, where he was practicing until last week. “I personally think it is absolutely wrong.

“If a patient survives, then they can sue me,” Ali said, waving his arms in disbelief at the situation. “If a patient dies, then it is less liability on me.”

Ali’s medical license was suspended Wednesday by the state Medical Examining Board, after the state’s expert witness, an emergency medicine physician, concluded that Ali had inserted a breathing tube into Daniels’ esophagus, depriving her of oxygen for more than 30 minutes.

Facebook: fb.me/cary.spivak

Twitter: twitter.com/cspivak

No malpractice lawyers will take case in death of Wisconsin baby

Harper Streblow died 10 days after she was born following an emergency Caesarean section — a procedure that was performed about 30 minutes after serious medical problems were detected by hospital nurses.

Medical lobby is a powerhouse in Wisconsin Capitol

The medical lobby, supported by powerful business groups, outmaneuvered trial lawyers once again this spring and won passage of the “I’m sorry” bill, which prohibits apologies by doctors from being used as evidence in malpractice lawsuits. Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill into law in April.

Malpractice insurance business is booming in Wisconsin and nation

Just 10 years ago, malpractice insurance industry executives said their industry was hurting: Premium rates were increasing, losses were accumulating and the insurers were warning of yet another medical malpractice crisis.




  • Write a reply…


  1. gary53177Yesterday at 5:07 PMReport Abuse




    • PanchitaYesterday at 6:16 PMReport Abuse




    • SwiftYesterday at 8:05 PMReport Abuse




    • TeahadistYesterday at 8:31 PMReport Abuse




    • brouhardYesterday at 9:14 PMReport Abuse




    • John CasperYesterday at 9:21 PMReport Abuse




      • VeganHealthYesterday at 10:32 PMReport Abuse




      • D oakcreekYesterday at 10:46 PMReport Abuse




        • brumskiYesterday at 10:58 PMReport Abuse




          • ZulfiYesterday at 11:47 PMReport Abuse


            I am Zulfiqar Ali mentioned here.
            I will try to put few things which I think are necessary to clear my name. I have been fighting this case for about three years.
            I refused two settlement offers from Medical Examining Board (MEB).

            On March 27th 2012 MEB me that if I accept that my tube was in esophagus and do two hours education course, I will just get simple warning. That means nothing in record. I refused that offer.

            On February 4th 2013, day after Super Bowel, I was told that MEB everything will be dropped against me. Only thing I had to agree was that sign agreement with MEB that I will NOT challenge their investigations. I refused that too.

            I have sued Calumet Medical Center (CMC) for unlawful discharge.

            I have refused two money settlement offers.

            I have sued Bridget Boyle my second attorney. I have refused two money settlement offers on that two.

            So far I have refused more than half a Million Dollars money offers.

            https://www.facebook.com/notes/zulfiqar-ali/reckless-homicide-promoter-medical-examining-board-of-wisconsin-and-corrupt-alj-/10152489835116067


          ‘;
          return comment;
          }
          var validateForm = function(form) {

          if(isnowSite == true){
          var response_cap = document.getElementById(“recaptcha_response_field”).value;
          var captchaValidated = “”;
          var comment_input = document.getElementById(“main-comment-input”).value;
          if(response_cap==”") {
          alert(“Please enter the captcha values.”);
          }else{
          var remoteip = “127.0.0.1″;
          var challenge_cap = document.getElementById(“recaptcha_challenge_field”).value;
          var url = “/templates/UGC_captchaResponse.html?remoteIP=”+remoteip+”privatekey=6LfJZeUSAAAAAPUFK3W_hVR0CEB4bzpcOfOkOmc1recaptcha_challenge_field=”+challenge_cap+”recaptcha_response_field=”+response_cap;
          var xmlHttp;
          if (window.XMLHttpRequest) { // Mozilla, Safari, …
          var xmlHttp = new XMLHttpRequest();
          }else if (window.ActiveXObject) { // IE
          var xmlHttp = new ActiveXObject(“Microsoft.XMLHTTP”);
          }
          xmlHttp.open(‘GET’, url, false);
          xmlHttp.send();
          /*
          xmlHttp.onreadystatechange = function() {
          if (xmlHttp.readyState == 4) {
          var resp = xmlHttp.responseText;
          alert(resp);
          if(resp.indexOf(true) -1){
          captchaValidated= true;
          Recaptcha.reload();
          setTimeout(‘if(‘ + captchaValidated + ‘){alert(“captcha validated in set timeout”);return true;}’, 1000);
          }else{
          alert(“Invalid captcha value, please try again.”);
          Recaptcha.reload();
          return false;
          }
          }
          } */
          var resp = xmlHttp.responseText;
          if(resp.indexOf(true) -1){
          captchaValidated= true;
          Recaptcha.reload();
          return true;
          }else{
          alert(“Invalid captcha value, please try again.”);
          Recaptcha.reload();
          return false;
          }
          }
          }else{return true;}
          }

          $(“#comments”).delegate(“.edit-comment-form,.reply-to-comment-form,#comment-form”,”submit”,function(e){

          e.preventDefault();
          var thisForm = $(this);

          var mainMessageContainer = $(“#comment-form-messages”);
          if(thisForm.is(“.reply-to-comment-form”)){
          var messageCont = thisForm.parent(“.reply”).siblings(“.active-reply-container”);
          if(messageCont.length == 0){
          messageCont = $(‘

        • ‘);
          thisForm.parent(“li”).before(messageCont);
          }
          if(_commentUser.isLoggedIn){
          insertComment(this,true,function(obj){
          if(obj.error){
          if(obj.error == “User must be logged in to perform the action.”){
          messageCont.html(“

          Please login to post your comment.

          “);
          thisForm.hide().parent(“li”).hide();
          }else{
          messageCont.html(“

          Sorry, there was a problem when submitting your comment, please try again.

          “);
          }
          messageCont.removeClass(“hide”);
          }else{ // possible status APPROVED,NOTAPPROVED, FLAGGED, AUTHOR, BOT, REJECTED
          if(obj.status == “APPROVED”){
          messageCont.attr(“id”,”comment-”+obj.id).html(buildCommentHTMLString(obj));
          _commentUser.refreshComments = true;
          $.cookie(‘_commentSession’,_commentUser,{expires:_commentUser.expires,path:’/'});
          if ($(‘#navbar-social .ss-icon.ss-chat .chat-count’).length == 1) {
          var chatCountCont = $(‘#navbar-social .ss-icon.ss-chat .chat-count’);
          var chatCount = chatCountCont.html();
          chatCountCont.html(parseInt(chatCount)+1);
          }
          }else{// handle all other cases with this blanket
          messageCont.html(“

          Your comment has been received. If you do not see it immediately, it is being routed for approval.

          “);
          }
          //reset form
          messageCont.removeClass(“active-reply-container hide”);
          thisForm.find(“.reply-to-comment-body”).val(“”).css(“height”,”18px”).trigger(“blur”);
          }
          });
          }else{
          messageCont.html(“

          Please login to post your comment.

          “);
          thisForm.hide().parent(“li”).hide();
          messageCont.removeClass(“hide”);
          }
          }else{ // new
          if(thisForm.is(“#comment-form”)){
          if(validateForm(thisForm)){
          if(_commentUser.isLoggedIn){
          insertComment(this,true,function(obj){
          //debugResponse(obj);
          if(obj.error){
          if(obj.error == “User must be logged in to perform the action.”){
          mainMessageContainer.html(“

          Please login to post your comment.

          “);
          thisForm.hide();
          }else{
          mainMessageContainer.html(“

          Sorry, there was a problem when submitting your comment, please try again.

          “);
          }
          }else{ // possible status APPROVED,NOTAPPROVED, FLAGGED, AUTHOR, BOT, REJECTED
          if(obj.status == “APPROVED”){
          $(“#comments-list ol”).eq(0).prepend(‘

        • ‘+buildCommentHTMLString(obj)+’
          • ‘);
            _commentUser.refreshComments = true;
            $.cookie(‘_commentSession’,_commentUser,{expires:_commentUser.expires,path:’/'});
            if ($(‘#navbar-social .ss-icon.ss-chat .chat-count’).length == 1) {
            var chatCountCont = $(‘#navbar-social .ss-icon.ss-chat .chat-count’);
            var chatCount = chatCountCont.html();
            chatCountCont.html(parseInt(chatCount)+1);
            }
            }else{// handle all other cases with this blanket
            mainMessageContainer.html(“

            Your comment has been received. If you do not see it immediately, it is being routed for approval.

            “);
            }
            //reset form
            mainMessageContainer.html(“”);
            $(“#comment-body”).val(“”).trigger(“blur”);
            }
            });
            }else{
            mainMessageContainer.html(“

            Please login to post your comment.

            “);
            thisForm.hide();
            }

            }
            }

            }
            });
            $(“#comments-list”).delegate(“.pagination a”,”click”,function(e){
            e.preventDefault();
            _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
            $(“#comments-list”).html(‘

            Loading comments…

            ‘);
            $(“html,body”).animate({scrollTop:$(“#comments”).offset().top},”fast”);
            if($(e.currentTarget).is(“.all”)){
            _paging.setHash(true,{event:”viewall”,viewAll:$(e.currentTarget).html().indexOf(“Page”) -1 ? 0 : 1});
            }else{
            var p = $(e.currentTarget).attr(“href”).replace(“#comments”,”");
            p = p.substring(p.indexOf(“page=”)+5);
            if(p.indexOf(“”) -1){
            p = p.substring(0,p.indexOf(“”));
            }
            var srt = $(“.sorting select option:selected”).val();
            srt = srt.substring(srt.indexOf(“sort=”)+5);
            _paging.setHash(true,{event:”loadpage”,sortString:srt,page:parseInt(p)});
            }
            });
            $(“.sorting select”).change(function(){
            _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
            $(“#comments-list”).html(‘

            Sorting comments…

            ‘);
            var srt = $(“.sorting select option:selected”).val();
            srt = srt.substring(srt.indexOf(“sort=”)+5);
            var p = srt.indexOf(“newest”) -1 ? _paging.pages : 1;
            _paging.setHash(true,{event:”sort”,sortString:srt,page:p});
            });
            $(“.pagesize a”).click(function(e){
            e.preventDefault();
            _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
            $(“#comments-list”).html(‘

            Adjusting page size…

            ‘);
            var srt = $(“.sorting select option:selected”).val();
            srt = srt.substring(srt.indexOf(“sort=”)+5);
            var p = srt.indexOf(“newest”) -1 ? _paging.pages : 1;
            _paging.setHash(true,{event:”pagesize”,pageSize:parseInt($(this).html()),sortString:srt,page:p});
            $(this).addClass(‘active’).siblings().removeClass(‘active’);
            });
            var getCommentBody = function(__comment){
            var j = [];
            j.push(‘

            ‘,__comment.userString,’‘,__comment.timeStamp,’ – Report Abuse

            ‘);
            return j.join(“”);
            }
            function spew(array, process, context){
            setTimeout(function(){
            var item = array.shift();
            process.call(context, item);
            if (array.length 0){
            setTimeout(arguments.callee, 100);
            }
            }, 100);
            }

            function createCommentsList(__data){
            var __comnts = __data.comments;
            var __comntsLength = __comnts.length;
            if(__comntsLength 0){
            var comts = [];
            var appendNth = 10;
            if(__comntsLength ‘,getCommentBody(__comment),’

              ‘);
              if(__comment.hasResponses){
              var __commentResponses = __comment.responses;
              var __commentResponsesLength = __commentResponses.length;
              for (var r=0; r ‘,getCommentBody(__response),”);
              }
              }
              comts.push(‘

            ‘);
            if((i+1) % appendNth == 0 || (i+1) == __comntsLength) {
            if((i+1) == __comntsLength){
            que.push(‘

              ‘+comts.join(”)+’

            ‘+__data.html);
            }else{
            que.push(‘

              ‘+comts.join(”)+’

            ‘);
            }
            comts = [];
            _chunk++;
            }
            }
            if(que.length 1){
            spew(que,function(chunk){
            $(“#comments-list”).append(chunk);
            $(“#comments-list .bzdu.commenter-”+_commentUser.id).removeClass(“bzdu”).addClass(“bzbu”);
            });
            }else{
            $(“#comments-list”).append(que.join(”));
            $(“#comments-list .bzdu.commenter-”+_commentUser.id).removeClass(“bzdu”).addClass(“bzbu”);
            }

            _paging.setHash(false,{event:”pageload”});
            if(window.location.hash.indexOf(“comment=”) -1){
            var scrl = window.location.hash;
            scrl = scrl.substring(scrl.indexOf(“comment=”)+8);
            if(scrl.indexOf(“”) -1){
            scrl = scrl.substring(0,scrl.indexOf(“”));
            }
            $(“html,body”).animate({scrollTop:$(“#comment-”+scrl).offset().top},”fast”);
            }
            }else{
            $(“#comments-list”).html(‘

              ‘);
              }
              }

              $(window).hashchange(function(){
              if(_paging.event == “pageload”){
              var windowLocationHash = window.location.hash;
              windowLocationHash = windowLocationHash.replace(/^#!/,”");
              if(windowLocationHash (windowLocationHash.indexOf(“sort=”) -1 || windowLocationHash.indexOf(“page=”) -1 || windowLocationHash.indexOf(“viewAll=”) -1 || windowLocationHash.indexOf(“pageSize=”) -1 || windowLocationHash.indexOf(“comment=”) -1)){
              var urlVars = [], hash;
              var hashes = windowLocationHash.split(”);
              for(var i = 0; i Refreshing comments…’);
              }
              if(!window.location.hash || window.location.hash.indexOf(“comments”) -1){
              //this sets default sort order to newestfirst on initial page load (“oldestfirst” for Fresh)
              //condition for #comments on blog posts and no hash on article urls, we do ajax
              $(“#comments-list”).html(‘

              Refreshing comments…

              ‘);
              $(“.sorting select option:selected”).removeAttr(‘selected’);
              $(“.sorting select .newestfirst”).attr(‘selected’, ‘selected’);
              _paging.setHash(false,{event:”pagerefresh”,sortString:”newestfirst”,page:_paging.pages,pageSize:_paging.pageSize});
              }
              }

              $.ajax({
              url:_paging.url(),
              cache:false,
              dataType: ‘json’,
              success:function(__data){
              createCommentsList(__data);
              },
              error: function(a,b,c){
              //alert(“ajax error:” + a+”,”+b+”,”+c);
              $(“#comments-list”).html(__data.html+’

                Oops, its taking too long to retrieve comments, please try again.

              ‘+__data.html);
              }
              });

              });
              if(_commentUser.refreshComments == true){//occurs when someone posts a comment then refreshes page
              _commentUser.refreshComments = false;
              $.cookie(‘_commentSession’,_commentUser,{expires:_commentUser.expires,path:’/'});
              $(“#comments-list”).html(‘

              Refreshing comments…

              ‘);
              $(“.sorting select option:selected”).removeAttr(‘selected’);
              $(“.sorting select .newestfirst”).attr(‘selected’, ‘selected’);
              _paging.setHash(true,{event:”pagerefresh”,sortString:”newestfirst”,page:_paging.pages});
              }
              $(window).hashchange();


              PRIVACY POLICY/YOUR CALIFORNIA PRIVACY RIGHTS | Updated Terms of Use | Contact Us | PR Hub

              Article source: http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/medical-malpractice-lawsuits-plummet-in-wisconsin-b99290329z1-264436841.html

              Bradenton’s DeSoto Square mall set to be sold at auction; minimum bid: $9M

              BRADENTON — With a new luxury mall only months from opening its doors 12 miles away, owners of the rundown DeSoto Square Mall have listed the property for auction next month.

              The auction is set to begin July 28 with an opening bid of $9 million, the Bradenton Herald has learned. Bidders will be required to make a $25,000 deposit for the 58.5 acres at the intersection of U.S. 301 Blvd. W and U.S. 41.

              Many have predicted that the new Mall at University Town Center, on track to open in October, would hasten the demise of DeSoto Square. The Bradenton mall also competes with Ellenton Premium Outlets’ 130 stores just eight miles away.

              Originally built in 1973, DeSoto Square was purchased by Simon Property Group in August 1996, 23 years after the mall first opened. At the time, the Indianapolis-based company was the largest publicly traded real estate investment trust in North America and owned or held interest in 284 malls, lifestyle centers, outlet malls and other shopping centers in 38 states and Puerto Rico.

              At the height of the real estate boom in 2004, DeSoto Square was valued at $80.2 million, property records show.

              In November 2012, how

              ever, Mason Asset Management acquired the county’s only indoor shopping mall for about $25 million from Simon, which had let its $61.9 million loan on the property fall into foreclosure.

              At the time, Mason Asset President Elliot Nassim told the Herald he believed the mall was viable and promised to “roll up our sleeves.”

              Retailers who have left the mall in recent years include: FootLocker, Old Navy, Hallmark and Boater’s World along with the restaurants Sbarro’s and Starbucks.

              According to the auction listing, the mall’s current occupancy is about 95 percent.

              On Saturday afternoon, however, 16 storefronts and two spots in the food court sat empty, making the choices limited for shoppers. Despite sales and major markdowns posted from store to store, the mall was sparse with customers.

              Contact for the auction item is listed as Thomas Dobrowski, senior managing director and head of Eastern U.S. capital markets for Rockwood Real Estate Advisors, according to the New York firm’s website. Neither he nor mall representatives returned calls for comment Saturday.

              Ben Bakker, a commercial real estate agent for Michael Saunders Co, was saddened but not surprised when he learned of the auction announcement.

              “I’m sad to see the demise of the mall,” Bakker said. “But with the expansion that’s taken place out in Ellenton, and the new one going into University Park and all the development that Benderson already has going on out there, there’s no way, I think, to resuscitate that mall.”

              Shopping in the area will not suffer, he added.

              “I think that property could be put to better use,” Bakker said. “I would love to see some social service center there. If we could, we’re able to make it into one massive one-stop center.”

              Growing up in Bradenton, he knows it will be disappointing to see the mall close, if in fact the new owners choose to find a new use for the property.

              “It is what it is — no one wants to see the cool place from their childhood close,” Bakker said. “But these things happen.”

              – Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, contributed to this report.

              Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

              Article source: http://www.bradenton.com/2014/06/29/5231539/bradentons-desoto-square-mall.html

              ADJOURNED FORECLOSURE: Deutsche v. Kristine Abrahamson; Case No. 13 …

              (Pub. July 2, 9 and 16, 2014)
              STATE OF WISCONSIN
              CIRCUIT COURT
              PIERCE COUNTY
              ADJOURNED NOTICE OF
              FORECLOSURE SALE
              Case No. 13-CV-224
              Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee, in trust for the registered holders of Morgan Stanley ABS Capital I Trust 2004-HE9, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2004-HE9
              Plaintiff,
              vs.
              Kristine Abrahamson a/k/a
              Kristine L. Abrahamson as Trustee of the Kristine L.
              Abrahamson Revocable Trust and John Moe Abrahamson, Jane Doe Abrahamson and
              such other known or unknown Trustees or Successor Trustees or known or unknown
              Beneficiaries of the Kristine L. Abrahamson Revocable Trust,
              Defendants.
              PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that by virtue of a judgment of foreclosure entered on March 25, 2014 in the amount of $115,951.81 the Sheriff will sell the described premises at public auction as follows:
              ORIGINAL TIME: July 1, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.
              ADJOURNED TIME: August 5, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.
              TERMS: Pursuant to said judgment, 10% of the successful bid must be paid to the sheriff at the sale in cash, cashierapos;s check or certified funds, payable to the clerk of courts (personal checks cannot and will not be accepted). The balance of the successful bid must be paid to the clerk of courts in cash, cashierapos;s check or certified funds no later than ten days after the courtapos;s confirmation of the sale or else the 10% down payment is forfeited to the plaintiff. The property is sold apos;as isapos; and subject to all liens and encumbrances.
              PLACE: On the steps of the Pierce County Courthouse, in the Village of Ellsworth
              DESCRIPTION: Lots Ten (10) and Eleven (11), Block Fourteen (14), O.S. Powellapos;s Third Addition to the City of River Falls, Pierce County, Wisconsin, EXCEPT the South 7 feet of the East 100 feet of Lot 11.
              PROPERTY ADDRESS: 455 N 4th St, River Falls, WI 54022- 2338
              DATED: June 26, 2014
              Nancy Hove
              Pierce County Sheriff
              Gray Associates, L.L.P.
              Attorneys for Plaintiff
              16345 West Glendale Drive
              New Berlin, WI 53151-2841
              (414) 224-8404
              Please go to www.gray-law.com to obtain the bid for this sale.
              Gray Associates, L.L.P. is attempting to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose. If you have previously received a discharge in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case, this communication should not be construed as an attempt to hold you personally liable for the debt.
              WNAXLP

              Article source: http://www.piercecountyherald.com/content/adjourned-foreclosure-deutsche-v-kristine-abrahamson-case-no-13-cv-224

              New Reverse-Mortgage Rule Can Keep Surviving Spouse in House

              foreclosed notice on a main...
              ShutterstockIf you already have a reverse mortgage and you are not named in the documents, you might be at risk of foreclosure.

              By Tom Roberts

              Imagine receiving a foreclosure notice after your spouse dies, even though you are current on all of the payments. That’s just what happened to some widows and widowers who took out a reverse mortgage while their spouses were still alive.

              Reverse mortgages allow individuals or couples over the age of 62 to receive cash payments based on the equity they have built on their home. The loan does not come due until all of the participants in the

              A recent court ruling forced HUD to update its rules.

              reverse mortgage have left the property, so what’s the problem?

              Since the age of the individuals is used to calculate the withdrawal amount, many couples were advised to take the younger spouse off the title, so they could get a higher payment. Then, once the older spouse dies, the surviving spouse receives a foreclosure notice because their name is not on the mortgage!

              A recent court ruling forced HUD to update its rules in order to avoid this problem. Starting Aug. 4, reverse mortgages must list both spouses, so the survivor won’t have to worry about facing foreclosure. But what can you do if you already have a reverse mortgage?

              Here’s how to protect yourself:

              • Declare that you are married — on the HUD application, confirm it with the lender when you close, and every year that the mortgage is in effect via a HUD form.
              • Remain married to your spouse.
              • Make sure that the non-borrowing spouse appears in the mortgage documents (if one spouse is not, there’s more on that below).
              • Remain current with property taxes and insurance coverage.
              • Continue to live in the home.
              • When your spouse dies, you must establish legal ownership within 90 days.

              The Bad News: The new rule dictates that the amount of money that can be borrowed will be based on the age of the younger spouse, whether he or she is on the mortgage or not. If one person is much younger than 62, the payment will be substantially lower.

              The new rules are not retroactive, however. If you already have a reverse mortgage, and you are not named in the documents, check with a lawyer or with your lender to find out how you can avoid foreclosure. HUD is looking at ways to cover spouses who are not named in the mortgage and, in some cases, will allow extensions.

              Does Getting a Reverse Mortgage Make Sense?: It all depends on your situation. If you need cash for expenses, and you have equity in your home, a reverse mortgage may be a good option. There are several ways to receive the money: You can get a lump sum payment, a line of credit or monthly payments. As with any other mortgage or loan, though, there are associated costs, so explore all your options before you apply.

              The amount of money you can obtain is restricted by your age and the amount of equity in the home. You need to keep up with property taxes, insurance and maintenance and, once all of the homeowners have left the home, the lender must be repaid. If the family does not buy the home, the lender will sell the home in order to settle the debt.

              The Good News: There is a required counseling program that will help you sort through all of these rules so you can make an informed decision. Check out HUD’s Reverse Mortgage FAQs or Mortgagee Letter 2014-07 for more information about the new changes.

              Article source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2014/06/27/new-reverse-mortgage-rule-can-keep-surviving-spouse-in-house/

              Obama administration expands affordable housing plan


              WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration said on Thursday it would tap Treasury funds to bolster the construction of affordable rental housing and extend the life of a program aimed at helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.

              The announcement by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew was timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Making Home Affordable program, an Obama administration initiative launched at the height of the economic crisis in 2009 to revitalize the housing sector and curb runaway foreclosures.

              He said the program would be extended through December 2016.

              “We need to continue to be there for homeowners who are facing foreclosure, those who are struggling with increasing interest rates on their modified mortgages, and those whose homes are caught underwater,” Lew said at an event to mark the program’s anniversary.

              According to Treasury Department, more than 1.3 million homeowners have modified their mortgages under the program, reducing monthly payments by about $540 a month.

              Although nationwide foreclosure rates have started dropping, millions of families are still struggling. Different estimates of underwater households range from 6.5 million to 9.7 million at the end of 2013.

              Lew also said the administration would use money from the Treasury Department’s Federal Financing Bank to help housing finance agencies fund the construction of more affordable rental housing.

              The collapse of the housing market created a spike in demand for rental housing, which has driven up costs. Many Americans are renting because they lost their homes, are afraid to buy a home, or cannot access mortgage credit.

              The Obama administration has called on Congress to allow Ginnie Mae, a government-sponsored enterprise, to securitize loans made under the Federal Housing Administration risk-sharing program, but so far lawmakers have not acted.

              The risk-sharing program allows state housing finance agencies to underwrite multifamily FHA loans while agreeing to share the risk of losses on those loans.

              Lew said that until Congress acts, the administration was directing the Federal Financing Bank to fund FHA-insured mortgages. Under the new plan, the Federal Financing Bank could provide $500 million to $1 billion in annual funding for rental housing projects.

              Allowing Ginnie Mae to securitize those loans would lower the interest rates and bring down the cost of financing rental housing projects.

              Lew said the administration was also looking for ways to attract more private capital to the housing market, which is dominated by government-controlled mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB).

              The Treasury Department is seeking public comments on what it can do to foster a more robust private-sector mortgage securitization market with the hope of making loans more available.

              “I have directed my team to bring investors and securitizers together in the months ahead so we can uncover new paths to increase private investment,” Lew said.

              (Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna; Editing by Paul Simao, Toni Reinhold)

              Article source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/26/us-usa-housing-idUSKBN0F12QA20140626

              Schneiderman announces program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure

              New
              York state mortgage assistance program will provide loans to families
              struggling to avoid foreclosure; program will
              bridge struggling homeowners to affordable mortgage modifications

              Attorney General Eric T.
              Schneiderman has announced the launch of the New York state mortgage assistance
              program, or NYS MAP, which will provide small loans to families struggling to
              avoid foreclosure. The loans will assist families in securing mortgage modifications
              and result in more families staying in their homes.

              The program is an
              enhancement to the attorney general’s homeowner protection program, which
              provides struggling borrowers with free legal and housing counseling services,
              and has served more than 28,000 homeowners across the state since the launch of
              the program in October of 2012.

              Borrowers can apply
              beginning Oct. 15.

              “For many families
              across New York state, receiving a small loan through this program will mean
              the difference between a mortgage modification and the loss of a home,” Schneiderman said. “It’s hard to
              imagine a better investment in communities and families still feeling the effects
              of the housing crisis. We know
              that our homeowner protection program has had real results, helping thousands
              of families keep their homes. I’m pleased to announce that the mortgage
              assistance program will go even further, providing a lifeline to families still
              in need.”

              In the course of its
              work mitigating the damaging effects of the housing crisis in New York state,
              Schneiderman’s office discovered many families are being denied mortgage
              modifications as a result of small outstanding debts. Even families with
              reliable income streams are denied modifications due to things like a series of
              missed mortgage payments, delinquent second or third mortgage liens, or unpaid
              property tax bills, which need to be satisfied before a first mortgage holder
              will grant a modification. By filling the gap for families, the NYS MAP program
              will empower consumers to negotiate with their mortgage holders and ultimately
              remain in their homes.

              Eligible loan uses will
              include, but not be limited to, paying off arrears, including mortgage payments or unpaid interests and fees;
              paying down second or third mortgages; satisfying property tax liens or other
              liens that might lead to loss of homeownership; and supplying borrowers with a
              “matching” fund to achieve principal reduction or other beneficial first lien
              modification terms.

              Consumers will be
              eligible to apply for loans of varying amounts not to exceed $40,000 per
              borrower; the attorney general anticipates the program will have the capacity
              to disburse several hundred NYS MAP loans over the next 18 months. In all
              cases, a NYS MAP loan will result in homeownership retention at the time the
              loan is made. 

              To access NYS MAP,
              homeowners will work with an existing HOPP counselor or legal aid provider to
              complete the application. The attorney general’s office launched the website www.nysmap.org where prospective applicants
              can find out about the program and get connected to a HOPP lawyer or counselor.
              Consumers can also contact the New York attorney general consumer hotline at
              855-HOME-456. 

              The program is modeled
              after a New York City-funded pilot program administered through the Center for
              New York City Neighborhoods. The attorney general program is working with
              CNYCN, as well as the Empire Justice Center, to assist in the operations of NYS
              MAP. Both agencies are contracted by the office of the attorney general to
              assist with the administration of the HOPP program.

              Ms. Veneta Burton is one example of how
              the NYS MAP program expects to change lives. Burton lives with her daughter and
              three grandchildren in the Bronx. After getting diagnosed with breast cancer,
              Burton fell behind on both her mortgage and her condo association payments.
              Soon after, she received a foreclose notice. Fortunately, Burton found her way
              to Legal Services, Bronx NYC, a
              HOPP grantee, who connected her with the MAP pilot program. With her $22,000
              loan, she was able to pay down her mortgage and her condo association arrears,
              which also brought down her housing expenses by $300 per month. “We would have
              lost our home to foreclosure without this program,” Burton said.

              Across upstate and
              Western New York, the distressed mortgage problem is concentrated in certain
              communities, with the highest rates in Troy (9 percent), Rochester (7 percent)
              and certain neighborhoods in Buffalo, such as Kensington (10 percent). Overall,
              Erie County has the fifth-highest distressed mortgage rate in New York.

              Article source: http://www.wnypapers.com/news/article/current/2014/06/27/116658/schneiderman-announces-program-to-help-homeowners-avoid-foreclosure

              Foreclosure rate declines across county; State agency has program to help …

              From January to May 31, Burke County has had 109 foreclosure filings, according to information from the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

              Burke County had 301 foreclosures in 2013; 347 foreclosures in 2012; 379 foreclosures in 2011; 463 foreclosures in 2010; and 372 foreclosures in 2009.

              Home sales have been on the increase since 2010 in the Unifour area, said Tom Bell, an analyst with Western Piedmont Council of Governments. He said existing home sales increased 19 percent between 2012 and 2013 in the Catawba Valley region.

              Bell said there is a greater number of minorities, mainly Hispanics, becoming homeowners. He said in Catawba County between 2005 and 2009, 38 percent of minorities were homeowners. By 2012, that number had increased to 59 percent, he said.

              Bell said if there is a demand for housing in the area, then the number of foreclosures will decrease.

              Housing values have gone up about 10.5 percent between 2011 and 2013, Bell said.

              Existing home prices plummeted in 2008 in the Catawba Valley region, going from an average price of $168,610 to an average price of $127,471 in 2011. Home prices in the area are on the rise, reaching $136,021 by 2013, according to information from the council of governments.

              Even before the Great Recession hit North Carolina, Burke County’s foreclosure numbers jumped from 2002 to 2003, which was around the time manufacturing companies started closing their doors. The county had 281 foreclosures in 2002 but that number increased to 423 foreclosures in 2003. The average unemployment rate for Burke County in 2002 was 7.8 percent, according to information from the U.S Department of Labor Statistics.

              It was around 2003 to 2004 that foreclosures started climbing and new home construction started declining in the Hickory metropolitan area, which includes Burke County, according to information from Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

              New home construction started climbing again in Burke County around 2006 and 2007 but then plummeted around 2008. There were 304 new home constructions in the county in 2008, but by 2012 that number fell to 71, the information says. New home construction climbed in 2013 to 104.

              While home values have increased since the recession, it’s not where it was in 2000, Bell said.

              For those who want to keep their homes, there is help available to keep their homes out of foreclosure.

              N.C. Housing Finance Agency — a state agency — offers a service called the North Carolina Foreclosure Prevention Fund for unemployed homeowners who are struggling with mortgage payments or facing foreclosure. The fund gets its money from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and is used to make mortgage payments for qualified unemployed workers while they look for jobs or complete job training, according to information from the agency. There is no cost for assistance.

              The agency has helped 173 homeowners since the program began in the fall of 2010, which was the peak for foreclosures in Burke County and the state. With the 173 homeowners helped equates to nearly $19.5 million in property value saved, according to information from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.

              North Carolina had 66, 278 foreclosure filings in 2010.

              In addition to the state housing finance agency, Western Piedmont Council of Governments also has a foreclosure prevention assistance program and offers housing counseling for free.

              The council says it’s illegal in the state for a company to charge an upfront fee for foreclosure prevention services. If someone is in jeopardy of foreclosure and needs an attorney, the council says Legal Aid of North Carolina or the North Carolina Justice Center may be able to help.

              To get more information on help with preventing foreclosures, go to wpcog.org and hold the cursor over services on the left side of the page and scroll down to Housing Resource and over to Foreclosure Prevention or call 322-9191.

              To find out more about the N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund, go to www.ncforeclosureprevention.gov or call 888-623-8631.

              Article source: http://www.morganton.com/news/foreclosure-rate-declines-across-county-state-agency-has-program-to/article_83f172d4-fd88-11e3-83ae-001a4bcf6878.html

              Awesome NYT Graphic Chronicles Detroit’s 44000 Foreclosure-Endangered …

              “Detroit Needs Residents, but Sends Some Packing” is the headline on a Page One story Friday in The New York Times that takes a big-picture look at the tens of thousands of homes in Detroit endangered by foreclosure.

              The story, by Monica Davey, who writes frequently about Detroit, notes that in a city that desperately needs to hold onto residents, there is a virtual pipeline out.

              At least 70,000 foreclosures have taken place since 2009 because of delinquent property taxes. And more than 43,000 properties — more than one in 10 in this city — were subject to foreclosure this year, some of them headed for a public auction where prices can start as low as $500. 

              Other cities wrestle with unpaid taxes, too, but the size of Detroit’s problem is staggering. Several factors have brought the city to the point that crucial revenues are not being collected and thousands of houses are being taken away each year — not by banks, for failure to make mortgage payments, but by the government, for failure to pay taxes. Contributing are soaring rates of poverty, high taxes despite painfully diminished city services and a long pattern of lackadaisical tax collection by the city.

              While Davey’s story is comprehensive and revealing — even to local readers — the interactive graphic that accompanies the article shows multi-page mosaic of the homes that were subject to foreclosure as of Jan. 1.

              The images are so numerous that even scrolling through them rapidly takes nearly three minutes.

              According to The Times:

              This mosaic, created with images from Google Maps Street View, shows one of the many enormous challenges facing Detroit as it tries to climb out of debt. As of January, the owners of these properties collectively owed more than $328 million. Since then, some have paid their debts, entered in payment plans or qualified for assistance. But 26,038 properties, shown with a  yellow triangle, remain in jeopardy, and many are headed for public auction.

              Click here for Davey’s story.

              Click here for the interactive graphic.

              Article source: http://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/9719/awesome_nyt_graphic_chronicles_detroit_s_44_000_foreclosure-endangered_properties

              Oregon highest percentage of vacant foreclosures

              PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Vacant homes in foreclosure are often dirty, dangerous and depressing for neighbors. Many times they’re taken over by squatters.

              The 40% of Oregon’s homes in foreclosure vacant ranks the state dead last in that category. The Portland-Vancouver metro area is in the Top 10 for cities, with 37% of homes in foreclosure vacant, a RealtyTrac study showed.

              State Rep. Lew Frederick of Portland has been working on this issue for years and in 2013 had his “Good Neighbor” bill passed.

              Graffiti covers the side of a boarded-up home on N. Interstate Ave. in Portland. But neighbors said squatters have still found their way inside -- using this 100-year-old home as a haven for drugs and other crimes, Sept. 10, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
              Graffiti covers the side of a boarded-up home on N. Interstate Ave. in Portland. But neighbors said squatters have still found their way inside — using this 100-year-old home as a haven for drugs and other crimes, Sept. 10, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

              It gives local governments the ability to get their money back if they repair or work on a foreclosed home. It also requires the posting of a contact name and number so neighbors know who is responsible for the home.

              Frederick knows more needs to be done.

              “Obviously enough isn’t being done but at least you have a tool to do something,” he told KOIN 6 News. “I think there is going to be another set of discussions on how we approach this to avoid these things in the first place.”

              Daren Blomquist, a vice president with RealtyTrac, said recent legislation designed to help homeowners who want to stay in their homes has slowed down the foreclosure process.

              Vacant homes are a result.

              “It can sometimes take two or three years for that foreclosure to take place,” Blomquist said. “During that time, what we’re seeing is more of the homeowners are just deciding to walk away.”

              Blomquist said some areas passed laws allowing a foreclosure fast-tracking for people who want to walk away.

              Article source: http://koin.com/2014/06/27/oregon-has-most-vacant-homes-in-foreclosure/