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Illegal foreclosures on soldiers could slow housing recovery

In exchange for risking their lives, military members enjoy some very basic financial protections under the law, but not all financial institutions observe these laws.

In exchange for risking their lives, military members enjoy some very basic financial protections under the law, but not all financial institutions observe these laws.

Imagine being an active service member and enduring battle abroad. Many of you have served in the military and know the difficulties of daily life of those that dedicate themselves to defending our nation.

Imagine your wife calling you with your youngest child crying in the background and his sister throwing a tantrum in the other room. Your wife is in tears because she’s gotten a foreclosure notice.

You’re doing the best you can to hold it all together from so far away, but you were just talking with your buddy about the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) about how legally, even in states that don’t require it, only a judge can authorize a foreclosure and only after hearing where you’re represented.

Nonetheless, the bank violates the law and kicks your wife and children to the curb, takes back the house where you built a small tree house for the kids, skipped rocks on the river with your wife, held countless barbecues and last kissed your wife goodbye when you were called to fight abroad.

Coming home to no home…

That’s not a horror story, it’s the story of Sgt. James Hurley who since before his return to the states in Decmeber 2005 (two years after Bush signed into law the revised SCRA) has had his home foreclosed on (sans judge) and sold by the bank for only $76,000.

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Sgt. Hurley’s battle with Deutsche Bank is not an isolate incident. Service members are returning home to foreclosed houses without a judicial ruling, interest rates above 6% (also illegal under SCRA), evictions not in line with SCRA and more.

We take it with a grain of salt that foreclosure rates are up, but there are protections in place to protect service members against specific bank and landlord actions and Deutsche Bank (alongside several others like Morgan Stanley) are blatantly violating SCRA and getting away with it. We are appalled not only at the bank’s behavior but their directly giving a reason for more governmental oversight and regulation (oh boy, this should be fun).

How dare you abuse our defenders this way and how dare you beg Uncle Sam to micromanage you and slow down the housing recovery? Realtors, please get to know SCRA so you can stand up when you see wrongdoings! For the SCRA summary, click here and for the full text, click here.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Aaron Catt

    January 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    How again does this story support the headline with regard to “could slow the housing recovery”.

    Yes, the behavior and violation of the SCRA is appalling, but I’m interested in seeing how this could slow recovery. Are these types of violations making up a significant amount of distressed real estate? What concentrations or percentages of these violations have a direct impact on stabilizing housing?

    • Lani Rosales

      January 28, 2011 at 1:07 am

      Aaron, I probably wasn’t very clear, so let me elaborate…

      When you take a patriotic situation and turn it into a news soundbite (as Sgt. Hurley’s has been), people begin to say, “how dare banks treat our soldiers this way?” and they’re right- how dare they?

      But then, people start saying, “we have to do something about it!” and a rally cry begins. People begin looking deeper into SCRA violations and say that the banks are out of control (which they are). So far, so good.

      But then come the talking heads that say that the banking industry needs more regulation and there needs to be more committees formed to oversee and micromanage banking. From there, it’s easy for governmental agencies to go ahead and step in to other banking issues since they’re already there and before you know it, Uncle Sam’s tricky sticky fingers are in all facets of finance. Still see no problem? That’s fine, let’s keep going.

      So then, the government has stepped in to regulate and then regulate some more and the system becomes overwhelmed because (for example), servicers have limited processing staff and governmental programs like HAMP have proven to be a complete failure.

      So yes, I see this patriotic symbol as a potential talking point for politicians who seek deep regulation which ultimately slows the already fatigued industry (partly their own fault, I’m certainly not excusing them) and stresses the entire system, potentially slowing the recovery of the housing industry. We’re bouncing at the bottom and might be able to recover in the next three years, but if Sticky Fingers steps in, the gears will get all gummed up!

      What do you think? 🙂

  2. MH for Movoto

    January 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    This is the kind of thing that’s just so reprehensible in every way that it completely takes my breath away.

  3. naplesflorida

    February 3, 2011 at 10:28 am

    What a shame.

    I was drafted for 2 years in the South African army and we got nothing other than dicipline out of it.

    At least here there is the GI bill

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