The Top 5 Things You Need To Know If You Have Been Notified Of Foreclosure In Tampa Bay, Florida.
- You only have 20 calendar days to respond to a foreclosure lawsuit. If you do not respond within 20 calendar days of being served, you risk losing your case by default.
- If you have been served with a foreclosure lawsuit, do not call the bank. Call a foreclosure defense lawyer.
- Your written response to the lawsuit must raise legally sound defenses to the foreclosure or you can waive your defenses. Do not simply write a letter explaining your hardship.
- There are defenses available to you besides payment. Banks are required to provide you with certain notices prior to suing you and the bank must prove it has the rights to the Note. There are also certain certifications that must be in compliance with the law. There are other defenses available as well. Just like any other lawsuit, the bank must prove its case. A good foreclosure defense lawyer will make the bank prove its case.
- If you have been served with foreclosure papers you need to focus on the Court case. Do not call the bank and if you have already done so, do not listen to what they tell you. Remember – the bank is suing you. The bank is not your friend. Keep your focus on the litigation, which is what is taking place in Court. This is how you fight the bank and keep you and your family in your home. The folks at the bank do not understand litigation and are not lawyers.
For more information read our FAQ below.
Call for Advice. Call Torrens Law Group P.A. at (813) 260-4883. Serving all of Tampa Bay, Florida.
Tampa Foreclosure Attorneys FAQ
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How do I know if I have been sued in foreclosure?
You will know that you have been sued in foreclosure when you are served by a process server with a thick stack of papers. This thick stack of papers will be a Complaint and Summons and it will state that you have 20 days to file a response. If you are served with these papers, do not call the bank. Call a foreclosure defense lawyer.
If I am served with a foreclosure lawsuit, do I need to start packing immediately?
While lawyers cannot make any guarantees, if you hire a competent foreclosure defense lawyer to defend you in the foreclosure lawsuit, you will not need to start packing immediately. You will probably have much more time in the home than you think.
What is the purpose of hiring a foreclosure defense lawyer? Why not just contact the bank and explain my situation?
A foreclosure lawsuit is just like any other lawsuit against you. You have the right to assert legal defenses to foreclosure and sometimes the bank’s foreclosure case can actually be dismissed. You have the right to file a Motion to Dismiss (if proper legal grounds exist), to file an Answer and Affirmative Defenses, to demand the production of documents from the foreclosing bank, and even to take the deposition of the bank’s corporate representative. If the case is not resolved prior to trial, you can even take the case to a contested trial whereby you have the opportunity to cross-examine the bank’s representative. All foreclosure trials in Florida are “bench” trials, which simply means a non-jury trial. The final ruling is made by the judge. This is why it is so important that you hire a competent, aggressive foreclosure defense lawyer. Defending yourself in foreclosure can be a technical process where it is required that one truly understand the litigation process, the rules of procedure, and the relevant case law and statutes.
If I have been sued in foreclosure, is it still possible to save my home?
Yes, it is. Every case has different facts but you may be eligible for a loan modification. Whether you qualify or not depends on various factors, such as whether you have had any previous modifications, what your current monthly income is, and what your current monthly mortgage payment amount is. If you qualify for a loan modification, generally the bank or mortgage servicer will place you on a three month “trial period” in which you will make your modified mortgage payments for three consecutive months. As long as you make your three monthly payments on time, you will receive your permanent loan modification documents to execute and return to the bank for recording in the official records. Then your foreclosure case is dismissed, and the lis pendens released.
What if I want to walk away from the property with no personal liability?
During the initial consultation with a potential foreclosure defense client, we always make sure to ask what your goals are for the case. Some folks would like a loan modification, other folks have fallen on hard times and need more time in the home, whereas other folks are tired of dealing with the property and wish to walk away with no personal liability. Most of our clients are “underwater” on their properties. This means that they owe more on the mortgage than the property is worth. This has serious ramifications for a foreclosure case. Let’s say you owe $200,000 on your mortgage, but the property only sells for $100,000 at a foreclosure sale. You could be facing a deficiency judgment of approximately $100,000. For clients who are interested, we are oftentimes able to work out a deal with the bank and their attorney whereby you agree to give back the title to the property in exchange for a waiver of the deficiency and perhaps some cash relocation assistance as well. This type of deal commonly referred to as “cash for keys,” allows the client to walk away from the property without any personal liability for the mortgage debt.
If I am not paying my mortgage, what defenses to foreclosure could there be?
There are many other defenses to foreclosure other than being current on your mortgage. For example, in most cases, the bank has to send you a certain notice before filing a suit against you. The bank has to prove that it has the rights to the Promissory Note. Many of the mortgage loans have been sold off so many times that often it is difficult for the bank to prove that it actually has the right to enforce your particular loan. Each foreclosure case has different facts. Under the existing case law and the applicable Florida Statutes, there are legal defenses to mortgage foreclosure other than being current on your mortgage.
What if I would like to short sale my property but I have been served with foreclosure papers?
Even if you have your property listed with a Realtor for a short sale, we still highly recommend that you consult with a competent foreclosure defense attorney. We have seen quite a few cases where the homeowner thinks a short sale will be approved, then learns that their home is going to be auctioned off at a foreclosure sale. To ensure you and your realtor will have the time needed to get your short sale through, we highly recommend you at least have a foreclosure defense lawyer file your defenses in the
What time frame am I looking at for my foreclosure case?
Under new rules issued by the Florida Supreme Court, all foreclosure cases are expected to go to trial within one year from the date that your foreclosure case was filed. Cases can be resolved before that and they can go on for longer, depending on the circumstances. Generally, though, most foreclosure cases are now expected to go from the initial lawsuit to a trial within one calendar year.
How does your law firm charge for foreclosure defense representation?
At our firm, we bill on an hourly basis, so the more work that is involved in your case, the more your attorney’s fees will be. We send out invoices at the beginning of the month. If you have a retainer being held by our firm, we will bill against that retainer but will still send you a statement of your account. If your retainer has been exhausted, we will send you an invoice showing how much you owe. Invoices are due upon receipt, but we generally provide 30 calendar days in which to pay the invoice without being considered late by our firm.
Will I need to attend court hearings in my foreclosure case?
Chances are there will be court hearings that the attorneys will need to attend on your behalf. For the most part, your attendance will not be required except for the trial. Should your case go to trial, you can expect to be called as a witness and we will make sure to have you scheduled for time to speak with the attorney who will be trying your case so you can be properly prepared for your day in court. Please remember that even if we prevail in your foreclosure case and win a dismissal, the lender will be able to re-file a new foreclosure case because the Florida Supreme Court has held that the five-year statute of limitations does not apply to foreclosure cases. A dismissal of the foreclosure also does not mean that you get a free house or that your mortgage is extinguished.
How will my mortgage balance change during the foreclosure process?
When there has been a default on a mortgage, you can always expect the balance to go up quite substantially. Your balance will not be the same as the time that you fell behind on payments. This is because you will owe the past due payments, in addition to accrued default interest, as well as any funds for taxes and insurance that your lender has been advancing on your behalf.
What happens if I get a loan modification approved by the bank?
If you are approved for a loan modification, you will most likely be required to make three trial mortgage payments. Upon completion of those three trial mortgage payments, you will then receive a permanent modification of your mortgage. After you execute and return that permanent mortgage modification to the lender, the bank will then dismiss the foreclosure case. We typically recommend you keep our law firm on board until your foreclosure case is dismissed.
Remember To Act Within 20 Days of being served!
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