The idea of losing your home in a foreclosure may be highly stressful. People who have fallen behind on mortgage payments and face other financial struggles may feel hopeless and as if there is no way to save their homes. The dedicated foreclosure defense attorneys at Owen & Dunivan understand the hardships facing residents of Brandon and other Florida communities as they fight to keep afloat. Mr. Owen’s compassion for his clients drives him to carefully examine all factors involved in their cases so that he can assert their interests.Foreclosure in Florida
Foreclosure refers to the legal proceedings initiated by a lender against a homeowner who has defaulted on a loan, seeking to terminate his or her interest in the property. Typically, this action is filed against a borrower after he or she has failed to pay three to five times consecutively. The goal is either to get a homeowner to make payments again, or obtain a judicial sale of the property for profit to be used towards the loan’s balance. Additionally, if you own a house or condominium that is part of a common interest community and fall behind on your dues to the homeowners’ association (HOA), it may also take action against you.
An HOA must first obtain a lien on your property if your account becomes delinquent. It must provide written notice to a homeowner before filing its lien, giving 45 days to pay. Even if you are not behind with mortgage payments, a HOA can file foreclosure for due assessments.
Defendants in a foreclosure proceeding have 20 calendar days to file a response. Courts in Florida will issue a default final judgment against a defendant who has failed to respond in that time and set a sale date on the home within three weeks or more. However, a correctly filed response by the homeowner provides more time to consider your options.Alternatives for Individuals Facing Financial Difficulties
While foreclosure proceedings are ongoing, a homeowner retains his or her ownership interest in the property, meaning that he or she may still reside in the home or rent it to others to collect money. Often, a person subject to foreclosure may also be facing bankruptcy, and extra income from rent or not worrying about a move could be vital to maintaining a livelihood. As a homeowner defends a foreclosure lawsuit, he or she may also take that time to negotiate and come to a resolution with the lender.
A borrower may consider a few alternatives to avoid foreclosure, including:
- Short Sale – A short sale is an agreement between a lender and homeowner that allows property to be sold for a lesser amount than what is owed on a mortgage. The benefits of a short sale are that a lender may be willing to forgive the remainder of the loan, and a homeowner also avoids the negative impact on his or her credit score. However, this option requires the homeowner to vacate the property, and borrowers also run the risk of a lender rejecting the sale price. If a lender thinks the price is not high enough, it may require the homeowner to provide a seller contribution of cash at closing to make up the difference.
- Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure – A deed in lieu is an agreement between the borrower and lender to transfer the property’s title. Under the agreement, the lender takes title to the property in exchange for forgiveness of all or part of a mortgage debt. This option allows the lender to avoid the cost of foreclosure proceedings and the homeowner to retain the property a little longer.
- Loan Modifications – A loan modification allows a homeowner to renegotiate the terms of a mortgage to alter monthly payments to a more manageable amount. With a loan modification, a homeowner can adjust the interest rate, the loan’s length, and other aspects of the mortgage.
Short sales and deeds in lieu generally require a homeowner to show some kind of financial hardship. This means that documentation must be provided to the lender, such as evidence of unemployment, divorce, disability, or excessive debt. Because of what is at stake and the complexity of negotiating with lenders regarding these options, it is important to consult a knowledgeable attorney to determine what process is best for you.Consult a Riverview Attorney Knowledgeable in Real Estate Matters
A Riverview lawyer knowledgeable in real estate and related areas, Owen & Dunivan carefully evaluates each homeowner’s situation to determine a sensible legal path. Our office represents clients in Tampa, Hillsborough County, and across Florida. If you need assistance negotiating with your lender or HOA, or have been summoned in a foreclosure proceeding, we can help you examine your options. Please contact our office online or call us at 813-502-6768 today to discuss your case.