Florida foreclosures: it’s still a sad reality in today’s economy that many people either face the possibility of foreclosure, are in the process of defending against a foreclosure, or know a family that is dealing with foreclosure issues. Florida’s foreclosure rates are rising and the next few years look to be filled with foreclosure issues – with the State of Florida being hit harder than many other parts of the country.
A lot of these people are probably wondering about the nuts and bolts of a Florida foreclosure: what exactly happens when the foreclosure process begins? Does someone just show up to go through your house? Does the Sheriff come to arrest you? Do they take your car or your TV? (No, no, and no.)
Here’s a brief overview of the Florida Foreclosure Process in 10 Steps:
The Florida Foreclosure Process: What Happens – Steps in a Florida Home Foreclosure
1. Home owner (Borrower) does not do something that he or she agreed to do when they got the mortgage (“defaults”) either by:
- not paying the mortgage payment;
- not paying the insurance on the property; or
- not paying the property taxes.
2. There are communications and negotiations between the home owner and the mortgage servicer and/or the bank that will be filing for foreclosure (this can be months and months and months of time) and can include:
3. The bank files a foreclosure lawsuit by having its lawyer file a pleading down at the courthouse in the county where the property is located and then serve the home owner with the lawsuit (the home owner receives an official notice of the Complaint for Foreclosure and Summons from a process server);
4. The homeowner (Borrower) has 20 days to respond in writing to the Complaint. This has to be done in accordance with Florida law and procedure. Failure to do so, or failure to do so within the deadline (as explained in the Complaint and Summons) means that the Borrower risks a “default judgment” being entered in the bank’s favor by the court. Do nothing, you lose.
5. Negotiations continue. Formal discovery can be filed by either side (legal request for documents, etc.) as part of the lawsuit. The judge may order a mediation to try and force a settlement but don’t count on it.
6. Borrower determines his or her defenses to the foreclosure suit and files pleadings in the lawsuit that formally challenge the right to foreclose. Here’s where robosigning and other foreclosure fraud issues come into play.
7. The Bank may ask for a summary judgment based upon the fact there are no disputed facts – they will say it’s undisputed that the home owner has failed to make payment etc… It is only when a heavy burden of establishing facts and meeting law that the court will grant a summary judgment, since this ends the lawsuit and foregoes any trial.
8. Trial. Not many foreclosures ago through a full trial in Florida these days.
9. If the judgment is entered against the Borrower/Home owner, then the home is sold at an auction. Defense attorneys can try to hold this sale off, especially if the bank is willing to continue negotiations.
10. If negotiations fail, the Borrower/Home owner must move out of their home because they have lost title to it at the foreclosure sale (it’s “been foreclosed upon”). In some situations, this may be 2 to 3 months after the foreclosure judgment; however, there are times when the home is lost even sooner and the Borrower/Home owner must vacate the home and remove all of their belongings.
Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:
When is it too soon to start considering your options in a possible default on your home? Never. It’s never too soon to start thinking about what might happen once a foreclosure lawsuit is filed – it’s never too early to be planning strategies to fight against losing your home. Foreclosure defense is complicated and each case is different. Florida law is changing all the time in this area. We write about this being the Wild Wild West these days because things are really are in such a mess.
Foreclosure defense attorneys, who know the ropes and deal with real people at the various banks and mortgage servicers, can be invaluable in helping Florida home owners facing the possibility of foreclosure. And many foreclosure defense lawyers, like our law firm, are able to work with clients on fees and expenses – it’s surprising to many clients how reasonable and cost-effective lawyers can be.
Not calling a lawyer because you assume they are too expensive is not wise. Call us to find out, because having a skilled and experienced advocate on your side of the table in a negotiation with a bank can make all the difference.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 458-8655.