You had big plans when you bought your house and put your heart into your home, but you now need a Jacksonville foreclosure defense lawyer. You haven’t kept up with the mortgage payments, or you’ve made them, but the mortgage company’s mistakes make it look like you’re behind. Depending on your situation, an effective foreclosure defense can keep you in your home or at least delay when you need to leave.
If you are financially overwhelmed and fear foreclosure will come soon, or the process has already started, take action to protect your rights. A foreclosure attorney in Jacksonville, FL, can protect your rights and may allow you to keep your home. If foreclosure’s an issue you need to confront, call us at 904-329-7249.
What Can a Foreclosure Attorney in Jacksonville, FL, Do for Me?
The mortgage company has the burden of proving its case. The fact that foreclosure proceedings have started doesn’t mean your case is hopeless. They are legally complex, and there may be severe problems with the case that may prevent a foreclosure.
There may also be lesser technical problems that may slow the process down. They may allow you time to find another home or decide whether bankruptcy might be a good way to allow you to pay your mortgage and limit other debts.
No matter your situation, mortgage foreclosure lawyers can help you get the best resolution possible. If you think you’ll be able to defend yourself in a foreclosure matter, you may quickly find you’ll lose your case and house.
What is Foreclosure?
It’s a process by which a party owning the mortgage on the house gets the right to sell it to recoup money the borrower failed to pay. It starts when you miss a certain number of mortgage payments. If there are 90 days without payment, you would have another month before the bank can begin to foreclose on your home.
If the payment issue isn’t resolved, the lender can start to foreclose on your house. If the lender is successful, your home will be sold to recover the losses you caused because you didn’t make the required payment as spelled out in the mortgage contract. There may be tens or hundreds of thousands of your dollars at stake in a foreclosure case. A foreclosure defense attorney is a good investment to make sure your interests are protected.
What is the Court’s Role?
Foreclosure by judicial sale is the sale of your home under the court’s supervision. The lender must get through a detailed, complex legal process to sell the house and ensure that anyone buying it owns the title. Your foreclosure lawyer will make sure the mortgage holder meets all the requirements and goes through the process, as well as coming up with defenses to stop or delay the process.
What Are the Stages of Foreclosure?
Our foreclosure defense lawyer has handled numerous foreclosure cases and knows the process in detail. It generally follows these steps:
- You miss payments. You should get a notice of the missed payment, and there will be late fees. If you miss just one payment, there should be no foreclosures. If you can no longer make payments, barring an agreement with the lender, you’ll probably be subject to a foreclosure proceeding.
- You must be delinquent at least 120 days before anything can be filed in court. This is a good time, with the help of a Florida foreclosure defense lawyer, to try to make up for the missed payments and work out a solution that doesn’t involve foreclosure.
- You receive a notice of default which starts the foreclosure process. It tells you a civil complaint was filed in court.
- A summons and complaint will be filed with a lis pendens (a statement that your property is the subject of a lawsuit). This starts the judicial foreclosure process.
- You and your Florida foreclosure defense lawyer have 20 days to answer the complaint, which is filed with the court. Your answer has your responses to the bank’s factual claims and the defenses you may use. If an answer isn’t filed, the lender can ask the court for a judgment in its favor, and you’d have no opportunity to dispute the lender’s claims or plead your case.
- The lender may file a motion for a summary judgment to try to prevent court proceedings. There’d be a hearing where both sides state why the motion should be approved or not. If the judge agrees it should, it’s probably because there was no answer or the answer was late or insufficient, and the case proceeds to sale of your house.
- There will be a trial if the motion is unsuccessful and no agreement between the parties is made. Both sides present evidence and argue the facts and law. The judge will later issue a ruling.
- If the decision doesn’t go your way, the property will be scheduled to be sold at auction, the sale will be made, the title will be issued to the new owner, and, if you haven’t left the house by now, you’ll be removed from your home.
- If the sale amount is less than what you owe, the lender can seek a deficiency judgment to try to force you to pay the difference.
How Do You Fight a Foreclosure?
Mortgage foreclosure lawyers, depending on the facts of your case, may come up with a way to stop the foreclosure or at least slow it down. Possible defenses include:
- The Mortgage Holder Didn’t Follow Procedures: The process is complicated and takes time, energy, and resources for both sides. Errors could be made along the way, giving you reasons to ask the judge to stop the process.
- The Mortgage Servicer’s Mistakes are to Blame: Mistakes were made when the company pursued a foreclosure while processing a loan modification; your payments went to the wrong party; the claimed amount you owe is incorrect and too high; or the company added fees that aren’t part of the mortgage contract.
- You’re on Active Duty: The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) gives you extra protection if you’re in the military and on active duty.
- The Mortgage Holder Doesn’t Have a Legal Right to Foreclose on Your Home (It Lacks “Standing”): The foreclosing party must own the right to collect on the loan. If they can’t prove they own the loan, they lack “standing” or have no legal basis for filing a legal action. This may happen if your mortgage was grouped with thousands of others and sold to another bank or investors. Without the proper paperwork and evidence transferring to that new owner, it has no right to collect the debt. It’s like buying a car but not getting title to it. A bank lacking proof that it has the right to force a sale to collect on a delinquent mortgage has no more right to sue you than a stranger walking down the street.
- The Company Waited Too Long to Sue: Civil lawsuits have deadlines, or statutes of limitations, for parties wanting to enforce their rights to file suit against others. This forces parties to act and not wait so long that those sued lack information or documents to protect themselves. In Florida, mortgage holders have five years from the date of default (normally defined in the mortgage loan documents) to foreclose. Those five years continue to run until you do something to prevent a foreclosure filing (like filing for bankruptcy).
Can a Foreclosure Defense Attorney Stop My Foreclosure?
In addition to the possible defenses above which might stop a foreclosure process, your foreclosure lawyer can help you with possible steps to bring it to a close:
- Improve Your Finances or Re-Finance Your Mortgage: Even if the process started, we could still negotiate with the mortgage holder. If you sell other assets, get a better paying job, or start working another, that increased income may allow you to reinstate the loan by paying what’s overdue, plus fees, to get back to your mortgage terms.
- Sell Your House: If your financial situation won’t improve soon, you may be better off selling your home than allowing the sale to go through the court.
- Mitigating Your Losses: Banks have an incentive to work with you because foreclosure is an expensive and lengthy process. Forbearance would pause and postpone your payments, not eliminate what you owe. You could work out a repayment plan, restructure or modify your mortgage. The terms would change, and you’d have lower payments but more of them over time. The bank could agree to a deed in lieu of foreclosure, where you hand over to the mortgage company any rights to the property and its title, allowing it to sell the property. A short sale would be a home sale for less than what’s left on the mortgage. The bank will want you to pay what’s left, but that amount could be negotiated.
- Bankruptcy: If you file a petition in federal bankruptcy court, all debt collectors, including the mortgage lender, must stop collection activities, so the foreclosure process would cease. Chapter 13 may allow you to make up for the payments you’re behind on and save your home from foreclosure. There would be a three- to five-year plan to pay your debts, but you may be able to eliminate non-secured debt (no property is used as collateral) like credit card and medical debt. If you don’t keep up with the payment plan, your case will convert to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and you would lose your house.
Could the Lender Garnish My Wages After Foreclosure?
If you still owe the lender money after the house is sold in a foreclosure proceeding, your wages could be garnished, but there are limits. You must have agreed to this as part of the mortgage contract. There’s also an exemption to the earnings of a “head of family” under state law. This person provides more than half of the support for a dependent. Up to $750 a week in wages, salary, commissions, and bonuses can be exempted.
Put Your Foreclosure Defense in the Hands of a Law Firm You Can Trust – The Adam Law Group
The Adam Law Group will provide you with the best foreclosure defense possible. Whether through negotiations or litigation, we may find a way for you to keep your home or delay the foreclosure long enough to get you enough time to start a new chapter in your life. If you have questions about foreclosure or need legal representation, call us at 904-329-7249 to schedule your free consultation.