There are many reasons Florida has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. One of them is that many homeowners think that when a lender forecloses, they have no option but to simply start packing their bags. This is untrue, and just one of the most common misconceptions about the foreclosure process in Florida. By understanding the foreclosure process and knowing the answers to some common questions, you’ll have a better chance of knowing what to do in case you receive a notice of foreclosure from your lender.
What Happens If I Don’t Fight the Foreclosure Process?
The lender will receive a quick and easy judgment and will force you from your home in just a few months. A foreclosure defense attorney can advise on a loan modification, principal reduction, deed in lieu, or a short sale. All of these options can keep you in your home for a much longer period of time. Some foreclosure cases take years before being finalized. In the best of cases, you can use that extra time to collect money for the loan and make a lump sum offer to your lender.
Why Does the Foreclosure Process Take So Long?
Florida is a judicial state for foreclosures. This means the lender must file a foreclosure lawsuit with the courts. The courts must then grant them a judgment that allows them to sell your home. This process takes much longer than non-judicial foreclosure states, such as Georgia, where lenders simply have to print a notice in the newspaper.
The fact that a lender must go through the courts to begin the foreclosure process is one of the main reasons foreclosures take so long in Florida. Court dockets are notoriously backlogged, meaning it takes time before your case is heard.
What Happens If the Party Suing Me Isn’t the Rightful Owner?
Only the rightful owner of a property can sue someone for defaulting on their mortgage and, essentially, begin the foreclosure process. This often provides a solid defense for the foreclosure process, as lenders often sell mortgages in bundles and so ownership rights are transferred. If the party filing the lawsuit is found to not be the rightful owner, the courts will typically give them a chance to refile showing support for ownership.
However, if the lawsuit involved any type of fraud, the courts will bar the plaintiff from filing another foreclosure lawsuit against the homeowner in the future. In some cases, this may mean you can keep your home, and possibly not even make payments on it. Most of the time in these cases, though, the rightful owner simply files a lawsuit against the defaulted homeowner.
What Happens If I Lose My Home?
Hopefully, you win your foreclosure case and get to keep your home for as long as possible, or permanently. Unfortunately, not all cases are won, especially for those that don’t have legal representation. If you do lose your foreclosure case, hopefully, you have saved up enough money to put down on a new home.
Once the auction is held and the home is sold, a certificate of title is issued. It is possible to contest the sale, but you only have 10 days to do this and the process is extremely challenging. After the certificate of title is issued, you will have a very short amount of time to leave the home.
After the sale, the lender may pursue a deficiency judgment against you. If they are granted a deficiency judgment, the courts will hold you liable for paying the difference between the proceeds of the sale and the amount you still owe. If you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court may discharge the debt associated with the deficiency judgment. Deficiency judgments also aren’t granted in every foreclosure case. Sometimes the lender simply writes off the debt.
Should I Agree to a Conciliation Conference?
A conciliation conference is a meeting between your foreclosure defense attorney and the lender’s attorneys. They may try to come to a resolution on the debt, or agree to alternatives such as loan modifications. While these meetings are possible, it’s important you understand they are not mandatory. You are not under any obligation to attend, or have your lawyer attend, these meetings. Doing so in certain instances can even hurt your case. Additionally, it’s also important you realize the attorney for the lender will have no authority to agree to any arrangement made. They will simply go back to the lender and inform them of what was discussed.
What Happens If There Are Tenants in the Property?
It’s not only residential properties that lenders foreclose on. Sometimes, apartment buildings and other rental properties are foreclosed on, too. When this is the case, and a lender tries to foreclose on the property, they must allow tenants to remain in the building for the remainder of their lease. In cases when the tenants are considered month-to-month renters, the lender must provide them with 90 days to leave the property. If a tenant signed a lease after foreclosure had already been filed, the lender is not required to uphold the lease. Owners of apartment buildings should not rent out units once a foreclosure is filed, or should inform new tenants that the property is in foreclosure.
How Much Does Foreclosure Defense Cost?
If your home is in foreclosure and you want to save it, there’s a good chance you’re concerned about how much it will cost to defend the foreclosure. Unfortunately, no one can say with certainty because it depends on several factors. The stage of litigation your case is in and the amount of your monthly mortgage payment are just two factors that will affect the cost of your foreclosure defense case.
Have More Questions? Call Our Florida Foreclosure Defense Attorneys
If you’re facing foreclosure, or fear you’re about to, you likely have a lot of questions. Our Fort Lauderdale foreclosure defense attorneys at Loan Lawyers can answer them. We’ll explain all the legal options you have available, and will fight to help keep you in your home for as long as possible. Call us today at (954) 523-HELP (4357) or fill out our online form for your free consultation.
Loan Lawyers has helped over 5,000 South Florida homeowners and consumers with their debt problems, we have saved over 2,000 homes from foreclosure, eliminated more than $100,000,000 in mortgage principal and consumer debt, and have recovered over $10,000,000 on behalf of our clients due to bank, loan servicer, and debt collector violations. Contact us for a free consultation to see how we may be able to help you.