9 Investigates: Fast track foreclosures could have high costs



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Facing one of the largest backlogs of foreclosures in the state, central Florida's Ninth Circuit Court has cleared 41 percent of its backlog since June 2012.

However, new numbers obtained by Eyewitness News show the court entered May 2013 with 28,000 cases still pending and another 1,000 new cases filed every month.

Add into this mix more than $5 million from the state to help the courts hire staff to speed up foreclosures and a newly signed "fast-track foreclosure bill" and critics say what you have is a system poised to force many more families out of their homes and many more homes into the market.

"The foreclosure backlog has really been a governor on it just going crazy," said Justin Clark, a central Florida real estate attorney. "The courts are doing everything they can to speed up the foreclosure process."

Among the new provisions in the state law: homeowners can no longer get their homes back in the case of accidental or illegal foreclosure. The new law provides only civil action for homeowners unjustly foreclosed on.

"Now with this fast-track foreclosure system, we're just going to kick these people right out and it's no fault of their own, I think it's setting up for a lot of tragedy for families in central Florida," said Clark.

Since July 2012, no court in the state has disposed of as many cases as the Ninth Circuit in central Florida. Real estate professionals caution putting too many foreclosures back into the market too soon could cause real estate prices, which are still recovering, to suddenly fall.

According to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, the median home price in Orlando has increased 22 percent since June 2012, with foreclosure sales increasing 3 percent in that same time.

"The foreclosure backlog has really been a governor on it just going crazy," said Clark.