Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Court Ruling in Rochester May Affect Foreclosures in Minnesota

When you think of Rochester Minnesota - you may think of the winding Zumbro river, the large IBM site or, of course, the Mayo Clinic.  It's not often you think of Rochester as a setting for courtroom drama that may change the way banks and their attorneys handle foreclosures.  However, a recent court decision in Olmsted County may do just that.

A foreclosure that had taken place in August of 2010 was ruled invalid by Olmsted County District Judge Jodi Williamson, because the Notice of Foreclosure Sale (Sheriff's Sale) was posted in a small newspaper in a neighboring township - not in a publication distributed in the area where the house was located.

The State of Minnesota requires that lenders notify homeowners of a pending sale by attempting to serve the occupant of the property with the Sale Notice (via local Sheriff or process server) AND publish, for 6 consecutive weeks, the date and location of the sale in a local publication.  

According to housing counselors in the Rochester area, many attorneys use the smaller nearby papers due to the costs of publishing foreclosure notices in the Rochester paper.  According to sources, the cost to publish a foreclosure notice in the Rochester Post Bulletin was the highest in the state.  

If this ruling holds, it will mean that some foreclosures that took place in Rochester will be ruled invalid.  

However, this won't be the end of foreclosures in Rochester as:

  1. Many homeowners would have been notified via process server anyway, and
  2. Most lenders will simply refile the foreclosure, obtain a new sale date from the Sheriffs Department and notify homeowners again, this time complying with the state statute.  

It's still great to see that Minnesota is "ahead of the curve" when it comes to consumer protections under the law.  Even when a bank must proceed with a foreclosure - if there are no other options - they must comply with the law.

If you're a homeowner struggling with your mortgage - don't wait for a legal ruling or hope for a legal loophole to avoid facing your foreclosure issue - non-profit (free) housing counseling is available throughout the state - including Olmsted County - to help YOU avoid foreclosure.  Don't delay, visit the Minnesota Home Ownership Center's website HERE to find your local counselor.

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