We recognize that sometimes unexpected events occur that can cause you to fall behind with your mortgage payments. Unfortunately, the delinquent payments can eventually result in the mortgage company to file a foreclosure.
A foreclosure is a legal action in which the mortgage company sues you under the terms of the mortgage in order to receive their collateral (your home) back due to the default on the loan. Florida is a judicial foreclosure state, which means that the mortgage company must go through the court system in order to receive a Final Judgment and eventual sale date. Judicial foreclosures can take several months to complete, which gives the homeowner an opportunity to work with the mortgage company to either negotiate terms of a loan modification or to surrender the property.
Creating a custom action plan
We believe each client's circumstances are truly unique. We feel that attacking problems from fresh and different directions, as well as creating custom action plans, is crucial to getting your real estate legal issues resolved with the best possible results.
For example, we may defend a client's foreclosure case while simultaneously negotiating a loan modification with the mortgage company. The goal is to create a solution that is tailored to your specific needs.
At your initial free consultation, we will discuss your short and long term goals and work with you to create a custom action plan with those goals in mind.
If your home is in foreclosure and you want to keep your home, we can assist you with a loan modification or in some cases, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you do not wish to keep the property but want to get out from under the debt, we can assist you with foreclosure defense, a short sale, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There are many options available and we analyze each option in order to determine which route will help you achieve your goals.
If you want to keep your home but cannot afford your monthly payments or cannot afford to catch up what you are behind, loan modification may be an option for you.
Loan modification entails the mortgage lender modifying the interest rate, length of loan and/or principal balance based upon a hardship and a subsequent change in a borrower’s income and expenses. Usually, a loan modification will bring a delinquent loan current by adding the past due amounts to the balance and allowing the arrearage to be paid over the life of the loan.
Although the government-sponsored "HAMP" program ended in December 2016, the majority of mortgage companies are still offering in-house loan modification programs. This means each individual servicing agent and/or investor usually has their own “in-house” loan modification program to review with individuals who do not qualify under any of the above programs.
The loan modification process can be long, tedious and frustrating. It is helpful to have an attorney assist you with loan modification who is educated on the different type of programs available and the criteria for each program.
In order to help a mortgage company review your loan for modification, we prepare a package of information outlining your current income, your monthly expenses, including an explanation of any recent changes in income or hardships you may have suffered. During the negotiation process, we prepare sample re-amortizations of your loan, adjust or fix the interest rate or ask for other concessions in order to come up with a monthly mortgage payment that you can afford. This service is offered with or without defense of a pending foreclosure action. Please see this list of documents with what is generally needed in order to process a loan modification.
A short sale is a transaction in which a borrower who has suffered a hardship approaches the Lender and requests that the Lender allow the sale of the home to a third party for an amount less than what is owed on the mortgage. In a short sale, the Lender saves the time, effort and expense of foreclosure and re-marketing the property. The borrower finds an appropriate buyer, offering market price for the real estate, and agrees to devote the net proceeds from the sale of the property towards paying off the mortgage debt.
Critical in processing short sales is determining and negotiating whether the borrower is going to be relieved of any remaining liability for the short fall between the sale of the property and the amount that was owed on the loan, i.e. a waiver of deficiency. There are also tax concerns to be addressed with a CPA prior to entering into a short sale. Many people who have consummated a short sale are surprised to find out later that the assistance they received with their short sale did not include waiver of deficiency and only released the lien on the property. That is why it is important that you use an experienced attorney to make sure that your legal rights are protected. Please see our Short Sale Information Form for information & documents needed in order to proceed with a short sale.
Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure
If you do not wish to keep the home, one option is to approach the lender to allow you to sign a Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure. This means that you sign the property over to the lender rather than go through the formal foreclosure process, which saves the lender money and time. Often, in exchange for signing a deed-in-lieu, a homeowner may be entitled to a "cash for keys" incentive whereby the lender provides you with a relocation payment in exchange for you signing the deed-in-lieu and leaving the property in a clean broom-swept condition.
The requirements for deed-in-lieu programs vary with each lender, so having an attorney who is familiar with the deed-in-lieu process is essential.
Condominium or Homeowner's Association Foreclosure
If you live in a condominium, townhome or neighborhood with a homeowner's association, the dues and assessments that are owed are secured by your home. This means that if you fail to pay the homeowner's dues, the association can put a lien against your home and file a foreclosure. If you receive notices from your association regarding delinquent assessments, it is important to respond as quickly as possible since they can add on attorney's fees, costs and other expenses associated with collecting the past due assessments. In some cases, an assessment of a couple hundred dollars can turn into several thousand.
If you receive a foreclosure complaint and summons from the condominium or homeowner's association, contact an attorney right away in order to discuss your options and defend your rights. If the assessments are past due, then your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement or payment arrangement on your behalf. It is important not to ignore these notices, as a condominium or homeowner's association can foreclose on the home - leaving you without your home but still owing the mortgage.
Answers to our most frequently asked questions can be found here.