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It sounded too good to be true...

Joseph Loiero is an associate producer at the CBC News Investigative Content Unit. 

The idea for doing a story about the foreclosure crisis in America, with a Canadian angle, came from Howard Goldenthal, a producer with CBC Radio's The Current, who came across a book called Fire Sale: How to Buy U.S. Foreclosures Now.  After Howard brought us the idea, he was an instrumental part of helping us put our story together.  He found key contacts such as Condo Vultures' Peter Zalewski and lawyer Matt Wiedner.   He also got in touch with Joe Koebel, who was able to give us a tour of a foreclosure house where people simply walked away.

Goldenthal also learned that there are currently more than two million foreclosure homes for sale across the U.S.   Fifty thousand of them are in the state of Florida.  And that's where the Canadian angle comes in - Florida is, after all, a state that Canadians love to call their second home.  Warm weather, short travel time and no snow to shovel!  In fact, Canadians are the second largest foreign purchasers of homes in Florida, and account for about 27 per cent of all foreclosure purchases in the U.S.  Makes sense, given the high dollar, low interest rates, and a distressed U.S. housing market.  On the surface, it does seem like the perfect time to buy.

So what's the story?  

What some Canadians don't know is that their dream house might not be as safe a purchase as they thought.  Recent news of alleged illegal foreclosure paperwork done by foreclosure law firms has sparked a probe into sales across all 50 states.  

Our senior investigative correspondent, Diana Swain, went down to Florida to investigate.  While there, she spoke to Matt Weidner, a Florida real estate attorney who thinks there is definitely reason to be worried.  He told us, "If you are Canadian, you absolutely should be concerned about the property you purchased in the United States, because the paperwork that we see here reveals some gross deficiencies that are going to make the ownership of that property really questionable."

According to depositions in the U.S., some of the people signing the paperwork were not qualified to do so.  Hairstylists and retail employees were among the people who were brought in to sign thousands of documents that led to the foreclosure of homes.  Weidner told Diana that in some cases, the papers were even forged, meaning the foreclosure was not done legally.  Thus, if a Canadian bought one of these homes, they don't actually have clear and proper title.  If the original owner were to contest the title, the Canadian who purchased what they thought was their dream home could potentially end up in litigation, or even worse, lose their purchase.

If you are a Canadian who purchased a Florida foreclosure, we want to hear from you, especially if you experienced any of the problems we've been hearing about.  Please contact us at

Visit The National's in-depth page Florida's Foreclosure Fiasco to watch Diana Swain's story and find out more about the foreclosure problem in Florida.