A foreclosure is a lawsuit like any other lawsuit that you might see on a legal series on television. But instead of asking the judge to award money, the lender is asking the Court to order that your home be sold because you have not paid your mortgage. The proceeds from the foreclosure sale are applied against the balance that you owe the bank. The process normally starts three months after you have not made payments. In Florida, foreclosures are processed in the circuit courts of the district in which the property is located.
Foreclosure begins when a process server serves a copy of the summons and foreclosure complaint on the homeowner. From the date of service, the homeowner has 20 days to provide a written response to the Court and the bank’s lawyers explaining why he/she should not lose his home. If the homeowner does not provide a response within 20 days, the Clerk of the Court could enter a default and the homeowner could lose the home, his/her wages and other properties.
Unless the case is settled, the foreclosure ends with the Sheriff’s Final Notice of Eviction, which normally gives the homeowners 24 hours to vacate the property. If the homeowners have not voluntarily left by the time the Sheriff comes back, the Sheriff has the legal right to remove them by force.
A foreclosure case in Florida could take as little as 90 days to complete if you don’t present any legal defenses and/or reach a settlement with the bank. If, however, you have competent legal counsel, a foreclosure case could last years while the bank prepares its case for trial.
Foreclosure is a very complicated process involving federal laws, state laws, the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, the Florida Code of Evidence, and local rules and administrative orders. Many homeowners in foreclosure attempt to represent themselves, but the best course of action is to consult an experienced foreclosure defense lawyer.
The Law Office of Malcolm E. Harrison has worked with over 4,000 Floridians facing the tragedy of foreclosure. We have saved hundreds of homeowners from losing their properties. In those cases when the borrowers could not qualify for a loan modification, we have tried to negotiate their exit from the property in ways that were least disruptive to their families. For example, we try to make sure that the property is surrendered during the summer so that school age children don’t have to change schools during the academic year. In addition, we ask the banks to waive the deficiency judgment and/or pay the homeowner’s cash in exchange for submitting to judgment. These are options that will allow a family to pick up and move on from foreclosure with less damage than a straight foreclosure would cause.
Each case of foreclosure is different. The properties are different, and the goals of the homeowners are different. Our firm is a “boutique” foreclosure defense firm in that we do not take a “cookie cutter” approach to these cases. We take the time to know our clients and fashion a legal strategy around their particular needs. We don’t see ourselves as having “files” or “cases.” We have clients – real people fighting to save their homes in the midst of one of the worst real estate depressions in the history of the United States.
The first consultation with our firm is free. You have nothing to lose by coming to see us.