Whether you know it or not, there is a crisis going on in the Florida housing market. If you are facing foreclosure, then you are already aware of the problem.
Don't worry, you are certainly not alone. Florida has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the United States.
- You may have purchased your home with the expectation that it would go up in value; instead, it has actually dropped in value: even below what you owe on it, with no foreseeable increase in value in the future.
- Perhaps you lost your job due to the economy, and your mortgage payments are now unaffordable.
- Some families are going through a divorce and will not be able to afford the mortgage on their marital home, because they cannot sell it, and one of the spouses has to find another place to live.
- There are still many other scenarios giving rise to foreclosures; for example, you may have bought a second or third property as a sound real estate investment, only to find yourself in a position of facing declining values and insufficient funds to make the payments. Or, perhaps, your ability to pay has been wiped out by unexpected, massive medical bills brought about by a medical crisis.
These are all too common scenarios.
You still have options. There are a number of ways to fight foreclosure in Florida. The banks and mortgage servicing companies have done a poor job keeping track of their ownership interests. For example, you mortgaged with property with Company X. Later, Company X sells it to Company Y, who, still later, sells it to Company Z. Company Z sues you to foreclose on the mortgage. But the paperwork of all of these sells and purchases has not caught up to Company Z yet. So in Court, Company Z cannot even prove it owns the mortgage (debt) and has the right to foreclose on your property. Take nothing for granted and nothing at face value. Make the party suing you prove it actually owns the mortgage! By doing so, you will be in a much better position than if you walk away from your property. Once you take a stand and make them prove they own your loan, you will give yourself the upper hand in negotiating with them.
In some cases it is possible to get the foreclosure case dismissed, modify the terms of the mortgage so that they are more favorable to you, get the lender to rewrite the terms of the loan, get the lender to accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure, or negotiate a short sale.
In Florida Foreclosures, the lenders hire law firms who have proven that they can push a large amount of foreclosure cases through the court system as quickly as possible, to reduce the amount of money the lender or servicer has to spend on legal fees. Therefore, time is of the essence in a Florida Foreclosure case. Even if you are currently negotiating a modification of your mortgage, the attorneys for the lender may be pursuing a foreclosure as well. Often the "loss mitigation department" for the lender is not communicating with the law firm hired by the same lender to pursue foreclosures on their behalf.
If you are behind on your mortgage payments, chances are the "foreclosure mill" (a large law firm churning out foreclosures at a high rate) has started processing your case for litigation. These firms will not negotiate with you once they have filed the foreclosure action. You will only have twenty days to respond to a foreclosure complaint before the law firm handling the case will attempt to get a default judgment against you. It is important that you have a Florida Foreclosure Attorney respond to the complaint within that time period. This will significantly improve your chances at keeping your home or at least buying you time to consider other options.
A Florida Foreclosure Attorney can help protect your rights and keep you in your home while we fight the foreclosure. Generally the lender will not accept payments once this process has been initiated. However, you are still entitled to stay in your home during the lawsuit. This means that you will be able to stay in the house without making mortgage payments until the outcome of your case is determined by a judge or settled outside of court.
In many of the foreclosure cases that are filed in Florida there are valid defenses and counterclaims which have proven to be successful in keeping homeowners in their homes. If the lender has pursued the foreclosure in violation of collection laws or the proper disclosures were not given to you at the time of closing under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), then you may be entitled to damages as well. A Florida Foreclosure Attorney can examine your case and identify valuable defenses on your behalf if they exist. Such defenses often exist and you don't even know it.
If you have been served with a foreclosure complaint or are behind on your mortgage payments, you need to speak with a Florida Foreclosure Attorney about your case. We can discuss your options with you and develop a course of action that protects your financial and personal interests. In some cases you may be able to use bankruptcy to keep you in your house as well. A Florida Bankruptcy Attorney can explain to you how this valuable remedy may or may not apply in your particular case. Many of the same issues that are involved in Florida Foreclosure Defense are also involved in Florida Bankruptcy Cases.
Wood, Atter, & Wolf, P.A. is in a unique position to be able to answer your questions about both of these extremely specialized areas of law. Call us today to schedule a consult with our firm.