This morning, RealtyTrac issued its Year-End 2012 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report and, in what is no surprise to most Florida foreclosure defense lawyers particularly those dealing with foreclosures in the Miami-Dade and Broward County areas, Florida broke the record in the RealtyTrac Foreclosure Market Report as Florida was first in the nation for foreclosure filings last year.
Specifically, from today’s RealtyTrac release:
- Foreclosure activity in 2012 increased from 2011 in Florida by 53%
- Florida’s foreclosure rate surpasses every other state in the country last year, as one in 32 homes in the State of Florida got a foreclosure filing during the year.
- In 2012, a total of 279,230 Florida properties had a foreclosure filing, a 53% percent increase from 2011 but still 42% lower than 2010’s historic total of 485,000 Florida properties in foreclosure.
- Florida had the biggest share of foreclosure inventory in the U.S., with 305,766 properties in some stage of foreclosure or bank owned (20 percent of the national total).
- The average time to foreclose in Florida ranks 3rd highest in the country at 853 days (or 2.3 years).
Florida Foreclosure Filings Expected to Be High in 2013, Too
According to RealtyTrac’s Darin Bloomquist, the foreclosure frenzy is far from over here in Florida. In today’s release, Bloomquist states his belief that:
“2013 is likely to be book-ended by two discrete jumps in foreclosure activity…. We expect to see continued increases in judicial foreclosure states near the beginning of the year as lenders finish catching up with the backlogs in those states, and another set of increases in some non-judicial states near the end of the year as lenders adjust to the new laws and process some deferred foreclosures in those states.”
Florida Home Owners and Foreclosure Filings: What Should You Expect?
Florida borrowers know if they are at risk for a foreclosure on their home. Florida home owners with underwater mortgages or those with financial strains know whether or not a default on their mortgage is in their future, or if they have already are behind in their payments.
The first step to foreclosure is not making a mortgage payment, after all.
However, the formal foreclosure process in Florida is a procedure established in Florida real estate law. Unlike other states (those non-judicial states), Florida requires that foreclosures proceed through the court system. In other words, in Florida foreclosures must be done via a lawsuit.
The foreclosure lawsuit must follow the same rules of procedure as other lawsuits do. An official complaint (pleading) must be filed by the bank down at the county courthouse that comports with state law. Fees must be paid with the filing, as well: most clerks have online fee schedules for foreclosure lawsuits.
Afterwards, there must be service of process upon the defendant. This means that the party who filed the lawsuit has a responsibility to let the defendant, the person getting sued, know that the lawsuit has been formally filed down at the courthouse.
Once the borrower is served, then Florida procedure makes demands upon him as a party to a Florida lawsuit. As a defendant, there is a time deadline to respond to the lawsuit. This is an official filing that is placed in the court records which is the defendant’s response to the pleadings that started the ball rolling. This filing is called the “Answer.”
Under Florida law, an answer (or some legal alternatives to an “answer” – legal twists that are sometimes available as filings for defendants) must be on file in the public record within approximately three (3) weeks to protect the defendant from bad things. Officially, the deadline is 20 days under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.140.
If the Florida borrower misses that deadline or decides to ignore the foreclosure lawsuit altogether, then the bank has the standard avenue open to any plantiff with a silent, missing defendant who fails to respond. The bank can move the court for a “default judgment.”
Default judgments are quick and clean ends to lawsuits that aren’t in controversy. Civil procedure finds them helpful to get lawsuits finalized and off the court’s calendar and out of the active docket when there’s not going to be a fight. It’s housekeeping from a court point of view.
If the judge can be convinced that a default judgment is appropriate in the foreclosure action, then the bank can win its motion and the judge will sign a default judgment.
This means that unless the Florida home owner acts – and takings action promptly – the bank can have a foreclosure judgment and be ready to take that home within as little as six (6) weeks of filing the foreclosure lawsuit.
Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:
Florida will be facing lots and lots and LOTS of foreclosure filings in 2013. Notices of default are going to be sent to Florida home owners all over the state and these Florida borrowers need to be aware that action must be taken — and taken fast. The banks are ready to get the Foreclosure Fraud Crisis behind them; they’ve settled with the Attorneys General or the federal government in many instances, and the banks are going to have teams in place to get this stuff done.
Prudent and savvy Florida home owners should be ready. If they are at risk of a Florida foreclosure, then they should understand the steps of a judicial foreclosure as well as the defenses that may apply to their particular situation.
Florida foreclosure defense attorneys stand ready, too — just like the bank’s lawyers. Many Florida foreclosure defense law firms (like ours) offer reasonable fee schedules and free initial consultations to help Florida home owners in their fight against banks trying to foreclose. However, we can’t help a client who doesn’t ask for help and it’s discouraging to think some people are going to be slammed and blindsided with a foreclosure. There are going to be Florida home owners who get hurt in 2013.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at email@example.com, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments. He’s happy to take your call.