1. What is foreclosure?
Foreclosure is the legal process that banks and mortgage companies use to force the sale of your home to repay a debt; usually what people refer to as the "mortgage." Even if one payment is missed the lending institution can take the property back and then sell it to repay the money owed them. A foreclosure notice is typically filed after three or four payments are missed.
2. Can I afford an attorney?
YES! First of all, it’s always FREE to discuss your case with the foreclosure defense experts at the Byrne Law Group. Discuss your case in detail, learn about your options, and figure out a plan by calling the Byrne Law Group at 813-413-6565.
Foreclosure defense is affordable! We have many different types of fee plans, ranging from a "by the hour" plan to a specific flat fee for services. Our most popular plan is the flat monthly plan – pay just $495 a month to defend your foreclosure.
If your mortgage is $1,500 a month, and you can only afford to pay $1,000 a month but the bank won’t work with you, by paying the Byrne Law Group $495 a month, you are able to defend your foreclosure for months or even years, save your money, and live in your home without having to pay rent elsewhere! Discuss your case in detail by calling the Byrne Law Group at 813-413-6565 for more information.
3. What is the foreclosure process and how long does it take?
In Florida, foreclosure occurs through the Florida civil courts. The bank or mortgage company files a lawsuit asking the Court to foreclose on your home and evict you from it. At a minimum, you must receive sufficient warning or notice before your home is foreclosed. Notification typically occurs when you are "served" with a foreclosure lawsuit and lis pendens by a Sheriff or process server. After being served, the homeowner has 20 days to respond. If the homeowner does not respond within 20 days, the bank is entitled to a default judgment. A bank may also move for summary judgment of foreclosure, which may occur anywhere from 45 to 90 days after service. If summary judgment is granted, the Court will order a sale date, typically within 45 to 60 days.
4. Do I have any options and if so, how much time do I have to exercise my options?
If you still own your home, you have numerous options available. Once your house is sold, however, many of your rights and options disappear.
Once you are served with a foreclosure lawsuit, you have 20 days to respond! Otherwise, the bank or mortgage company is entitled to a default judgment.
Know your rights and your options – knowledge is power! Discuss your case for FREE with the Byrne Law Group attorneys by calling 813-413-6565 right now! With the right strategy you may be able to delay foreclosure for months or years, possibly save your home from foreclosure, or work out a deal to keep your home.
5. I get letters and notices from people claiming they can help me save my home - are they for real?
A lawsuit is a public record – anyone can view it. Foreclosure lawsuits are no exception. When your bank files a foreclosure lawsuit, it is open to the public to view. Some companies view all court files for the purpose of compiling marketing and mailing lists, which are sold to everybody from real estate agents to lawyers to investors.
Some offers you receive may be legitimate, and others may be scams. Be careful! Only attorneys licensed by the Florida Bar may practice law in Florida – if someone is offering you legal services, make sure they are a licensed attorney! Non-lawyers offering to help you, prepare documents for you, review files, and guide you through the foreclosure process can be dangerous, they can cause harm to your case, steal your money, and they may be guilty of one or more criminal felonies.
Many unscrupulous companies and individuals are taking advantage of the desperate situation Florida homeowners are facing. These companies promise they can help save homes, then take outrageous up-front fees from Florida homeowners facing foreclosure. The companies often keep the fees, take no additional action, and let the homes fall into foreclosure.
By the time the homeowners discover the fraud, it is TOO LATE.
Be careful! You should NEVER pay any up-front fees and should avoid any high-pressure sales tactics. Fees may only be collected AFTER services are completed. Talk to a lawyer before contracting with any third-party company for rescue or modification services. If you believe you have been taken advantage of by a disreputable company, you should call the Florida Attorney General’s fraud hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at myfloridalegal.com. http://myfloridalegal.com/mortgagefraud The complaint will be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force.
6. So, how can I keep my home?
The best place to start is to talk to an attorney with foreclosure defense experience who can discuss your case and tell you your options. Talk to Attorney John Byrne of the Byrne Law Group for free – John will discuss your case for FREE and tell you about your options.
Talking to your mortgage company is always a good idea. If you can work out a mortgage modification with them directly, great! But be sure to get it in writing, and be sure it’s done before your home is foreclosed upon – working out a deal with your mortgage company DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY STOP FORECLOSURE! Often times, the bank’s attorneys don’t know a deal is in the works, so they keep moving forward with foreclosure!
7. I would rather sell my home than lose it to foreclosure... is this possible?
Yes, this process is often referred to as a short sale. Just because your home is in foreclosure doesn’t mean you can’t sell it. However, you must act quickly and select the right real estate professional, one well versed in these type of sales. Make sure to only deal with licensed real estate professionals!
8. I don't want to keep the house nor bother with trying to sell it. What would happen if I just walked away?
There are ways to walk away from your home, and then there’s the right way to walk away from your home. There is a legal process in which you agree to give the deed for your house to your mortgage company without forcing them to foreclose and evict you. But talk to an attorney at the Byrne Law Group first! It is sometimes possible to negotiate a deal where the bank actually pays you money for voluntarily leaving your home! Sometimes the bank may agree to waive its right to seek a deficiency judgment from you.
Be sure to seek the advice of the Byrne Law Group or other attorneys first – call 813-413-6565 right now to discuss your options for FREE because there can be catastrophic consequences if you just walk away.
9. What happens when the bank forecloses?
When the Judge enters a judgment of foreclosure, he or she will set the date on which your home is to be sold. Ads will be run in local newspapers announcing the sale date and time, often in the classified section, and they will list the location of the foreclosure sale. Often the sale is held in the lobby of the local county courthouse. At the time and date of the foreclosure sale, anyone may bid on your home. Often the bank or mortgage company will bid the amount you owe on the mortgage Once the property is sold or reverts back to the lender, the eviction process begins!
10. What does "Short Payoff" mean?
Your lender agrees to accept less than the total owed in exchange for releasing the mortgage as a lien on the property. (it's also called pre-foreclosure sale, short sale, pre-sale and compromise sale).
WARNING! There may be serious tax consequences. Be sure to talk to an attorney at the Byrne Law Group to understand your rights by calling 813-413-6565.
11. Can they sell my house for less than what I owe?
Yes! Banks are not in the business of owning or selling homes and they do not like to foreclose on property because it's expensive and they usually lose money. They must prepare the home for sale, hire a real estate agent to sell it, and until it's sold, it remains a non-producing asset on their books. The lending institution would rather take a loss on the home than have it remain on their books as a non-producing asset.
If your home is sold for less than what you owe, the balance is known as a deficiency, and the bank may seek a deficiency judgment against you. For instance, if you owe $100,000, and your home is sold at auction for $60,000, there is a $40,000 deficiency. If the bank obtains a deficiency judgment against you, it may try to collect $40,000 from you.
On the other hand, if your home is sold for more than you owe, you are entitled to part of the money exceeding the amount you owe.
12. Who can bid on my home at the auction?
Anyone, including yourself can bid at the auction.
13. What happens if no one bids on my property?
The bank simply takes possession of your property, through eviction if necessary, and then hires a real estate agent to sell the property.
14. If I'm evicted, how many days notice do I get?
You may get as few as 3 days notice after a sale! Most banks will start the eviction process immediately after the foreclosure process but the FHA, HUD and VA are usually much slower.
15. Do I really stand a chance of saving my home from foreclosure?
Yes! You have many rights and options at your disposal. Your bank is not automatically entitled to kick you out of your home! They have to prove numerous things, including that they legally own your mortgage…and sometimes they don’t!
If you are willing to fight for it, it is very possible that you can continue to stay in your home. The first step is to know and understand what options are available to you. Discuss your options with the foreclosure defense experts at the Byrne Law Group for FREE today! Call 813-413-6565 right now for a FREE consultation.
Your success depends on you knowing your options and your rights and acting quickly!
16. I've missed a few mortgage payments, now what happens?
Foreclosure may occur. This is the legal means that your lender can use to repossess (take over) your home.
When the actual foreclosure happens you must move or you'll be evicted anyway. Also, you may still owe the lender if they sell the house for less than you owe. You do have several options but because foreclosure or a deficiency judgment could seriously affect your ability to qualify for credit in the future, you should avoid foreclosure it if all possible!
17. I’ve received letters from the bank saying I’m late with my payments – what should I do?
was just served with foreclosure papers! Help! What should I do?
Contact your lender immediately, explain your situation and why you are having trouble making your payments. Provide them with your monthly income and expenses . . . be honest! Do not ignore the letter! Try to work out a deal you can live with – it doesn’t solve the problem if your "workout" means paying more than you can afford to pay!
Do not move out of your home! If you do, it may be considered abandoned and cause you to not qualify for assistance.
Contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency. Call (800) 569-4287 or TDD (800) 877-8339 or go online for the housing counseling agency nearest you. These services are usually free of charge.
If you bought your home with a Veterans Administration (VA) guaranteed loan, see Veterans Services for more information or call the VA office nearest you.
18. HELP!!!! I was just served with foreclosure papers! What should I do?
Do not panic – take a deep breath. You have 20 days beginning the day after you were served to respond. Pick up the telephone and call the experienced foreclosure defense attorneys at the Byrne Law Group for free to discuss your options.
You should NOT do nothing. You should NOT write a letter to the Court explaining your situation – you could accidently "confess judgment." You should not seek legal advice from someone who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in Florida.
19. What about foreclosure scams?
You can usually spot a scam because it sounds too simple or too good to be true.
If you're selling your home without professional guidance, beware of buyers who try to rush you through the process. Unfortunately, there are people who may try to take advantage of your financial difficulty.
Be especially alert for the following:
Equity skimming. In this type of scam, a "buyer" approaches you, offering to get you out of financial trouble by promising to pay off your mortgage or give you a sum of money when the property is sold. The "buyer" may suggest that you move out quickly and deed the property to him or her. The "buyer" then collects rent for a time, does not make any mortgage payments, and allows the lender to foreclose. Remember that signing over your deed to someone else does not necessarily relieve you of your obligation on your loan. See Question 22; Avoiding Scams
Phony counseling agencies. Some groups calling themselves "counseling agencies" may approach you and offer to perform certain services for a fee. Most of the time these services are things you can do such negotiating a new payment plan with your lender, or pursuing a pre-foreclosure sale.
If you have any doubt about paying for such services talk to an attorney licensed to practice law in Florida. Call the Byrne Law Group for FREE right now at 813-413-6565 to discuss your case!
20. How can I avoid foreclosure scams?
Follow these precautions:
Talk to a licensed attorney! Call the Byrne Law Group for FREE at 813-413-6565.
Don't sign any papers you don't fully understand. Ask questions.
Make sure you get all "promises" in writing.
Beware of any loan assumption where you are not formally released from liability for your mortgage debt and contracts of sale.
Check with an attorney and a real estate professional or your lender before entering into any deal involving your home.
If you're selling the house yourself to avoid foreclosure, check to see if there are any complaints against the prospective buyer. You can contact you’re the Florida Attorney General, the State Real Estate Commission, or the local District Attorney's Consumer Fraud Unit for this type of information.
The best advice is to talk to an attorney!
21. Can the bank just kick me out of my house?
No. Only a court order, called eviction, can force you to leave your home. The lender must file a foreclosure notice first, and then, only after the foreclosure process is complete, can the bank start eviction proceedings.
22. What is the actual foreclosure process?
It's a two-step process: pre-foreclosure and formal foreclosure. The process is basically the same for every state.
- You miss a payment (it usually takes 3 or 4 missed payments to kick off a foreclosure process).
- The bank sends you late notices and, if you fail to respond, they attempt to contact you (in writing or by phone) to resolve situation.
- You continue to miss payments and, you and the bank, fail to agree upon payment arrangements.
- The bank invokes the acceleration clause and demands the mortgage or lien be paid in full. Now you are legally obligated to immediately pay the full amount plus back interest, late fees, and any legal fees incurred by the lender.
- You have made no payments or arrangements acceptable to the bank. Note: Once you reach this stage, the bank will not accept your regular monthly payments but will instead, demand much higher payments to bring your loan current.
- Formal Foreclosure Process
- You receive a formal foreclosure notice, either by a process server or the local sheriff.
- The lender begins foreclosure action in court.
- Legal notices are published in local papers.
- You still have not been able to reach a payment or settlement arrangement with the lender.
- Your notice and waiting periods expire.
- The Court holds a hearing regarding the bank's claim.
- The Court issues a foreclosure order. This gives the bank the legal right to sell the home.
- Legal notice of actual foreclosure sale and advertisements published in local papers.
- You still have not been able to reach a payment or settlement agreement with the lender.
- The house is sold at auction to the highest bidder or not sold and the bank takes possession of the home.
- You move out or the bank or new owner evicts you.
- You are notified of any debt still outstanding as a result of the sale. (i.e. the home is sold for less than you owe)
23. How long does the foreclosure process usually take?
It depends on you. If you don’t respond to your foreclosure, it could be as quickly as 60 days. If you aggressively fight your lender, foreclosure can sometimes be delayed years or even indefinitely.
24. What is the Soldiers and Sailors Act?
This was an law passed during World War II to protect active duty military members from financial difficulty. One portion of the law may be able to stop foreclosure for anyone on active duty if they meet certain requirements outlined in the Soldiers and Sailors Act.
25. Who gets the money when the house is sold at auction?
First, all real estate taxes are paid. Then first, second, third etc., mortgages are paid. Next comes any lien holders or attaching creditors. Finally, you'll get any money left over after all debts are satisfied.
26. What does merged debts mean?
This applies only if you have a second, third, or more mortgages! If the lender holding your first mortgage forecloses then the second, third and so forth lenders no longer hold any right or title to your home. Although, you will probably still owe them money, they have no security interest in the home nor any right to foreclose on the home.
However, if you buy your own home back at the foreclosure auction, the debt may "merge" back (reattach) to the property, as if the foreclosure never happened.Note: If you file chapter 7 bankruptcy prior to the foreclosure sale and receive a discharge (released from all debts) you will not owe any money and the lenders will no longer hold a security interest in your home.