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"Re-Foreclosure" Hits Massachusetts

Question: What's worse than having your house foreclosed upon?

Foreclosure
Fuse | Getty Images
Foreclosure

Answer: having your house foreclosed upon twice . Unless, of course, you get it back the second time.

Homeowners in Massachusetts are now facing "back-to-back foreclosures," due to problems with property titles. When lenders are unable to get title insurance for the property on which they have foreclosed, they are now opting to try the whole process again. In Massachusetts, where the issue has affected at least hundreds, and "possibly thousands," of homeowners, it has become common enough to merit its own name: "re-foreclosure."

It sounds pretty awful. But the “re-foreclosure’’ storm clouds may have a silver lining for some homeowners: Sometimes, the banks lose the second time around.

From the Boston Globe article:

"Zepheniah Taylor lost his Dorchester three-decker to foreclosure two times in 17 months. Now the 59-year-old grandfather has returned home to stay. The scenario, once implausible, is becoming more common in the crazed and fast-changing world of foreclosures."

Also of note, homeowners are able to purchase their houses back at "current market value" — which means if the property value has deteriorated, as is often the case in neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates, the homeowner may be able to benefit by buying the property back at a cheaper price.

In the words of one such beneficiary: "I’m starting over fresh…It feels good. It is a new chance. "

But the whole process can be a little unsettling. In the words of Zoe Cronin, an attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services, a group that represents low income people: "They are weirded out…What is this? I got a letter saying I own my house again."

At the moment, it is still unclear how many properties and homeowners could be affected by these types of issues in the future.

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  • Jeff Cox is finance editor for CNBC.com.

  • Lawrence Develingne

    Lawrence Delevingne is the ‘Big Money’ enterprise reporter for CNBC.com and NetNet.

  • Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of "Fast Money."

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