While this year’s $25 billion mortgage settlement may have eased mortgage litigation in the first quarter, legal activity still remains relatively high, according to a report from Mortgage Daily.
The site tracked 216 mortgage-related lawsuits that saw activity during the first quarter of 2012, a slight easing from activity in fourth-quarter 2011, during which 244 cases were tracked. The decline in activity was attributed mostly to changing standards brought on in response to the national mortgage settlement.
However, mortgage litigation activity remains high by historical standards. Legal activity in Q1 was higher year-over-year, and most categories experienced elevated activity compared to Q1 2011.
Cases related to foreclosure, servicing, and criminal activity all fell from the end of 2011 but jumped up year-over-year. Meanwhile, investor cases saw the same amount of legal activity as reported for Q4 2011 and were up year-over-year.
Meanwhile, the number of title cases saw a huge increase year-over-year, spiking to 47 cases – a small quarter-to-quarter increase from 46, but a massive leap from 8 cases tracked in Q1 2011.
The ranking of busiest categories didn’t change from the end of 2011, with foreclosure litigation topping the list (89 cases tracked). It was followed by servicing (65) and investor (62) cases.
In a white paper released with the report, Ballard Spahr LLP partner Christopher Willis commented that a quarter-to-quarter drop in mortgage litigation shouldn’t be interpreted by itself as the start of a positive trend.
“This continued high level of foreclosure activity, coupled with the sustained media and governmental interest in the mortgage industry, suggests that we may see a plateau of mortgage litigation that remains at levels comparable to the last three quarters for the remainder of the year,” Willis wrote. “At least for the time being, a high level of litigation seems to be the ‘new normal’ for the industry.”