Effort to Require Judge to Sign Off on Foreclosures in Michigan


Michigan’s been hit hard this year by the mortgage crisis. And what’s worse is it’s been plagued by fraudulent and illegitimate foreclosures. There’s an effort now to protect homeowners from that kind of activity.

Michigan is a state that allows foreclosure by advertisement, which means “banks can post citizens’ names in the newspaper, and post a notice on their door and then go ahead with the foreclosure,” according to Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel, Jr.

“It really provides very little checks and balances to make sure a citizen is being rightfully foreclosed,” Hertel said.

And in a market clouded by foreclosure fraud, Hertel sees more need for that than ever.

“Foreclosure by advertisement worked when we had a community bank and that community bank would actually work with citizens,” he said. “We don’t have that any longer.”

Hertel hopes requiring a judge to sign off on foreclosures would prevent forged signatures like we saw in the “Linda Green” scandal.

“That would be much more difficult to do when you have to go in front of a judge to show those documents,” Hertel said.

A bill introduced in the house would require judicial review for every foreclosure. But some aren’t convinced that’s a good idea.

“If they do all go through the courts there has to be the funding and the staffing to the court system, new funding and new staffing to be able to handle the volume,” said Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing.

In the last four years, that volume has been about 1700 mortgage foreclosures a year just in Ingham County. Schertzing points to states like Florida that use judicial foreclosure.

“It’s taken four or five hundred days for a foreclosure to go through the court process. The judge is just signing a stack of foreclosures, it isn’t necessarily a process where the owner and the lender are even showing up,” said Schertzing.

Still, some want the right to their day in court.