State initiative to speed foreclosures requires banks to send higher-ups to court

February 23, 2012 09:00AM

Banks will be required to send representatives who can approve loan modifications to courts in foreclosure cases, in a new effort by New York state to speed through the backlog of foreclosures, the New York Times reported. The program, which also gives judges more control of the settlement process, will start in Queens in the spring and, if successful, will be expanded to other parts of the city.

The law isn’t technically new, as state law has long required bank representatives with authorization “to dispose of the case” be present in court, but that has largely gone unenforced. That will change thanks to agreements with Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Now, attorneys and their clients can talk to someone with sway on the lenders side “There will be no more excuses, no more delays,” said the state’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman. “Real negotiations will take place.”

State officials hope the program can help reduce the time foreclosure cases linger in courts to several months from up to two years, the Times said.

While the program was celebrated by many sources cited by the Times, some lawyers questioned the plan to provide lawyers for homeowners in the wake of state initiatives to layoff lawyers who specialize in foreclosure prevention. [NYT]