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AMT Homes, LLC v. Fishman

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

June 2, 2016

AMT HOMES, LLC
v.
JEREMY K. FISHMAN, ET AL

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Prince George's County. Thomas P. Smith, JUDGE.

         ARGUED BY: Byron L. Huffman (Byron L. Huffman, P.C. on the brief) all of Columbia, MD. FOR APPELLANT

         ARGUED BY: Erica T. Davis (Axelson, Williarnowsky, Bender & Fishman, P.C. on the brief) all of Rockville, MD, FOR APPELLEES

         ARGUED BEFORE: Nazarian, Reed, Thieme, Raymond G., Jr. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

          OPINION

         Nazarian, J.

         AMT Homes, LLC (" AMT" ) purchased a property at a foreclosure sale. The sale was reported to the Circuit Court for Prince George's County in a timely manner, but the court did not ratify the sale until six months later--not because the parties themselves caused any delay, but as a result of the court's case load and staffing. Soon after ratification, AMT filed a Motion for Abatement of interest and taxes, arguing that it should not be responsible for interest and taxes that accrued more than sixty days after the date of sale until the date of ratification. The circuit court denied the motion after a hearing, AMT appeals, and we affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

          Maryland Rule 14-204(a) allows the beneficiary of a deed of trust to institute a foreclosure action on the property subject to the lien. Before making the sale, the trustee must " publish notice of the time, place, and terms of the sale" at least once a week for three successive weeks. Md. Rule 14-210(a). The trustee or a court-appointed substitute then conducts the foreclosure sale. Md. Rule 14-207(a). The winning bidder pays a portion of the purchase price at the time of sale as a deposit, then pays the balance, plus interest and taxes, at the time of settlement. See, e.g., Donald v. Chaney, 302 Md. 465, 468, 488 A.2d 971 (1985) (explaining the general rule " of ancient lineage" that the purchaser always pays interest from the date of sale). In Zorzit v. 915 W. 36th Street, LLC, we summarized the court's role in these foreclosure actions:

" As soon as practicable, but not more than 30 days after a sale, the person authorized to make the sale shall file with the court a complete report of the sale and an affidavit of the fairness of the sale and the truth of the report." [Md. Rule 14-305(a)]. Once the report of sale is filed with the court, the clerk issues a notice containing " a brief description sufficient to identify the property and stating that the sale will be ratified unless cause to the contrary is shown within 30 days after the date of the notice." Rule 14-305(c). Within this 30-day period, a party may file exceptions to the sale. Rule 14-305(d)(1). If exceptions are filed, the court determines whether a hearing is necessary, but " it may not set aside a sale without a hearing," and must hold a hearing if " a hearing is requested and the exceptions . . . clearly show a need to take evidence." Rule 14-305(d)(2).
A court will ratify the sale if the time for filing exceptions " has expired and exceptions to the report either were not filed or were filed but overruled, and . . . the court is satisfied that the sale was fairly and properly made." Rule 14-305(e). After the court issues a final order of ratification, settlement takes place with the foreclosure purchaser.

197 Md.App. 91, 99, 12 A.3d 698 (2011).

         The estate of Thelma Battle owned the property at issue in this case, a home in Seat Pleasant (the " Property" ), subject to a deed of trust. The estate defaulted, and the group of substitute trustees (Jeremy K. Fishman, Samuel D Williamowsky, and Erica T. Davis Ruth), petitioned the circuit court for a Decree for Sale, then advertised the Property for sale at public auction. The sale advertisement disclosed the terms:

The balance of the purchase price with interest at 2.375% per annum from the date of sale to the date of payment will be paid within ten days after the final ratification of the sale.
Adjustments on all taxes, public charges and special or regular assessments will be made as of the date of sale and ...

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