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When a debtor fails to make full payments of principal and interest on a mortgage within the time frame agreed upon in the contract, the lender can take legal control of the property.

Simply put, if a home owner is unable to pay the outstanding debt or sell the property by way of a short sale, the property faces foreclosure auction. At this point, the owner forfeits every right to the property. The lender will also force the debtor to leave the property after the property is sold and if the property was not sold at the auction, then it will go to the lending institution.

A loan becomes delinquent when a home owner, or borrower, does not make a loan payment when it is due. It also gets more difficult to repay the debt as it accumulates because lenders will add fees for late payments after approximately 10 - 15 days. If after 3-6 months of the default payment the borrower is still unable to make the payment, then the foreclosure process can begin.

The Foreclosure Process

The foreclosure process varies from state to state. In Florida, a foreclosure is not able to be initiated until 120 days of delinquency has passed, at which point the lender, which is often a bank, can institute foreclosure proceedings. Some states like Florida utilize a judicial foreclosure process, while others follow a non-judicial process that does not involve the court.

  • In Florida, the foreclosure law demands that the lender must file a lawsuit in the state court where the property is located.
  • This is then served to the borrower informing him/her that the lender demands payment. The borrower has the right to defend his/her right in court. The lender will also have to prove that the borrower has defaulted.
  • The borrower has 30 days to make payment available or face foreclosure, but only when the loan is valid.
  • Failure to repay during the payment period will result in a judgment asking the borrower to sell the property through auction.
  • Upon the sale of the property, the borrower is served an eviction notice by the Sheriff.

Some features of the Florida judicial foreclosure include: compulsory trial by a judge, non-availability of court injunction to stop the process, and acceptance of all the terms of the court ordering the foreclosure.

Getting Foreclosure Help

The current manner of mortgaging and debt collection in Florida allows for various mistakes and loopholes. The borrower therefore has not just the rights, but options on which they can oppose the lender successfully. There are few things you can do to avoid the foreclosure process:

  • Take advantage of the refinance program. For this option to be utilized, you must be current on your home loans.
  • An interest only home loan from your bank can buy you a little time to avoid foreclosure, but keep in mind that it has the possibility to make things more difficult in the future.
  • A forbearance plan can excuse you from payments temporarily, which is suitable for borrowers in a temporary financial crisis.
  • Deed in lieu of foreclosure allows the borrower to resell the property to the bank, resulting in the forfeiture of the property.
  • Similarly, a pre-foreclosure sale can be undertaken where the borrower sells the property but at a lower price than it is actually worth.
  • Work with your state housing finance agency to help you keep your home. Government programs can also help you with free counseling, information, through Housing and Urban Development assistance.

When the foreclosure is already in process, you can fight back by:

  • Educating yourself on the foreclosure process
  • Liaising with your lender for a more suitable compromise that will give you a second chance at repaying your debt.
  • Consider a short sale before the lenderís auction begins.
  • Filing for bankruptcy to get the lenders off your back.
  • Demanding for promissory note from the lender.

To further protect yourself, be aware and educate yourself to avoid falling for a scam.

Foreclosure can be an arduous process that will not only affect you mentally, but can adversely affect you financially and otherwise. Being evicted from your home is a stressful experience in itself. Foreclosure causes your credit score takes a huge hit that will be recorded on your credit report for 7-10 years, which will make it even more difficult to find housing in the future.

There are programs like HUD that can assist you in finding a new home, you can also seek for counseling and financial assistance to help you get back on your feet.

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