One of the worst news that homeowners can receive is a home foreclosure notice by the bank. It is a hard-hitting reality that some homeowners fear while some experience it. In the US, most people have the homeownership dream. For prospective home buyers, however, it is very rare to pay cash for a home purchase; hence, most of them apply for a mortgage. And that’s when homeowners become exposed to the risk of foreclosure.

Due to the high-interest rate on mortgages and economic crises, things don’t go the way as planned for homebuyers because they default on their mortgages. In other words, once you take out a mortgage, you must pay monthly payments at a certain interest rate to the lender to retain the property and realize your homeownership dream once the full amount for the mortgage is paid. But if you fail to pay your mortgage, the lender can push to repossess the house through foreclosure. Therefore, if you are going through foreclosure, contact our experienced Florida foreclosure defense attorney today. To prevent foreclosure and improve your chances of keeping your house, we will help you move through the process, recommending you the best solution and defense strategies.

Florida Foreclosure Defense Attorneys

Eye-Opening Statistics about Foreclosures in Florida

If you thought you are the only one who has defaulted on your mortgage and undergoing foreclosure in Florida, read the statistics below. You will be surprised to know how common it is in the US and Florida.

According to a study by ATTOM Data Solutions title US Foreclosure Market Report for August 2020:

  • Approximately 9889 properties in the US were filed for foreclosures—including default notices, bank repossessions and scheduled auctions.
  • Although the figures were down compared to August 2019, they showed a rise of 11 percent between July and August 2020.
  • States like South Carolina, New York and Florida were the most affected ones.
  • Florida saw a sharp increase in foreclosures because of moratoria recently brought into place to loosen their restrictions, thus explaining the unexpected rise.

If we look at the statistics for Florida foreclosure individually, here are some statistics that will help you understand how prevalent they are:

  • In August 2020, one in every 7338 housing units received a filing for foreclosure
  • Florida has become the state with the second-highest rate of filing foreclosure
  • It is only behind South Carolina, with one in every 798 housing units to file a foreclosure
  • Jacksonville, Ocala, Lakeland, and Miami are among the top four metropolitan areas in Florida to have the highest foreclosure filing rates.

You shouldn’t panic after receiving a foreclosure notice. Unlike in the past when foreclosures were cut and dry, today, there are plenty of options to contend against foreclosure. Thus, schedule a consultation with our Florida foreclosure defense lawyer at Shiner Law Group to discuss your situation, and we’ll suggest the best option for defense.

Is it worth hiring a Florida foreclosure defense lawyer, or should you handle the case on your own? 

Knowing that foreclosure defense options exist, some people may think of handling the case on their own. But the truth of the matter is that foreclosure defense cases are extremely complex and, thus, frustrating and stressful.

However, if you hire our lawyer to fight your case, here’s how we can help:

  • Serving the clients for years, we understand the overwhelming feelings and stress that comes when you are handed over a foreclosure notice. Therefore, we can help walk you through the legal process with peace of mind and at every step of the way, thereby taking the stress away.
  • Our Florida foreclosure lawyer can help explain your rights.
  • We have dealt with various foreclosure proceedings over the years. Thus, we are no strangers in the Florida courts.
  • We can provide you with valuable information to help avoid foreclosure and identify laws established to protect you from lenders.
  • Our experienced lawyer can ensure that the bank has correctly carried foreclosure proceedings. In other words, we can ensure that your lender doesn’t violate your rights.

Apart from that, our lawyer can also:

  • Fill a notice of appearance, thereby representing you officially in the court and sparing you from the hassle
  • Answer summons and complaints as they work with you as your legal voice advocate
  • Appear at Settlement Conferences or Mediation

It’s vital to understand that not many people who have received a foreclosure notice understand that there are many ways to avoid it. Also, banks or loan modification companies never work in your best interest; only a lawyer does.

Many banks (lenders) present homeowners with self-serving offers and for the bank’s benefit. It is because they only care about collecting interests on the loans. Therefore, if you don’t have a solid legal representation to protect your rights, you will likely have an unfavorable case outcome. 

 

Likewise, sometimes your lender may consistently prompt you to avoid seeking your case representation. And instead, they compel you to file on your own. Some lenders do this because they only stand a greater chance of reaping big profits from the foreclosure. Besides this, as homeowners have no idea about their legal rights and how to proceed with the case, even the slightest of mistake or missed filing along the way from their end can put the lender in a strong position to further legal claims. So, you must seek legal representation. We combine our wealth of experience in foreclosure defense, expertise and profound knowledge to compare offers to help you secure the best deal.

Furthermore, it is also advisable to work with us so that you can avoid loan modification companies. These companies have emerged in the last few years for one reason: to make money from the hardships of homeowners. Most of these companies are not regulated or licensed. Besides this, they charge substantial fees while providing zero protection to clients.

How Can a Well-Defended Foreclosure Benefit?

A well-defended foreclosure can benefit you in numerous ways:

  • You and your family can continue to live in the same house while our Florida foreclosure defense lawyer fights your case
  • You can ensure that you get a meaningful modification on your loan that helps bring down the principal balance on loan to the home’s market value
  • You can easily avoid a deficiency judgment

Simply put, the only way to save the property/ your home from foreclosure is to fight back for your home in court.

Defenses to Foreclosure

As Florida is a judicial foreclosure state, it means that banks must first get approval from the court before they can foreclose your home. Therefore, because the mortgage process is through the court system, homeowners have the right to pursue a legal defense against the banks’ foreclosures. Among the most common and proven defense strategies used to fight the foreclosure in Florida include the following:

Lack of Standing

Standing precisely means that the party that wants to seek foreclosure has a right to bring the lawsuit. Hence, if seen in the foreclosure context, the word standing is used as a defense to argue that the bank is not the right plaintiff in the case for foreclosure. Therefore, the bank must prove their standing to proceed with their foreclosure action.

In other words, the bank must provide evidence to prove their standing by showing that they have the promissory note and mortgage. Here it is important to understand that proving standing for banks in such situations can be difficult because, in the majority of the cases related to foreclosures, the bank proceeding foreclosure is not the originator of the loan mortgage. This is because mortgages are transferred and sold to other institutions very often. And in addition, banks frequently lose the initial mortgage or promissory note as well, making it much harder to prove their position.

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA)

This is a consumer protection statute in Florida enacted by Congress to help loan borrowers’ police lenders who didn’t disclose the financial charges accurately. This act gives loan borrowers (homeowners) the right to seek legal actions for actual and statutory damages. Thus, if your situation qualifies, we can use it to defend your case.

Through TILA, homeowners get the right to rescind their transactions for up to 3 years in case of a material violation. Put simply, the bank then should undo the deal and return all interest and fees paid on the mortgage loan.

RESPA (The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) 

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act is another statute designed for consumer protection that stops lenders from illegal fee charges, which otherwise makes loans unaffordable or expensive.

This act forces lenders or banks to provide accurate disclosures related to:

  • The closing costs
  • Lender relationships with other companies that offer services before, during and after closing
  • Lender practices

It covers loans which are secured with a loan placed on residential properties of one to four.

Home Owners Equity Protection Act (HOEPA)

Our attorney can review the documents to identify whether the lender charged excessive fees or a high interest. These practices violate the Home Owners Equity Protection Act. Thus, a violation can be raised as a defense to the foreclosure.

Predatory Lending

Our experienced Florida foreclosure defense lawyer at Shiner Law Group can also help you fight back predatory lending practices. For example, if the mortgage broker compelled you to sign a negative amortizing loan or a teaser rate. These are abusive tactics that target borrowers who qualify for regular loans.

Financial institutions like banks make thousands of dollars by putting borrowers in subprime loans to receive higher commissions. Therefore, if the bank makes you a victim of predatory lending, we can use it to negotiate a resolution to your property foreclosure.

Failure to Offer Notice of the Default

The majority of the mortgages have a condition that states that the lender/bank shall notify the homeowner that their loan defaults before initiating a foreclosure lawsuit. This condition is usually in the mortgage’s 22nd paragraph.

Furthermore, the homeowner’s notice should also provide a suitable cure or action to avoid default along with a month to correct the default situation before a foreclosure is initiated. However, if the bank doesn’t do so, the borrower can raise the issue as an affirmative defense to its foreclosure. They must prove that the notice was sent to the homeowner.

Unclean Hands

Since the cases related to foreclosures are heard in the courts of equity, the courts must apply principles of fairness. Thus, unclean hands are an equitable defense. It can be used to prevent the bank from foreclosure. To establish unclean hands, the homeowner needs to show either an illegal or fraudulent transaction or any unrighteous conduct by the lender seeking foreclosure.

These can be in the following trade practices or acts:

  • Loan “flipping” which refers to refinancing frequently, which generates prepayment penalties and excessive fees.
  • Refinancing special subsidized mortgages that lead to the loss of beneficial loan terms for the borrower
  • Including excessive and hidden fees in the financed amount
  • Using loan terms or structures to make it impossible for the borrowers to lower or repay their loans
  • Using balloon payments to hide the true financing costs and forcing borrowers into costly refinancing transactions or foreclosure

Violation of the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act

Suppose the bank violates the FCCP act and demands foreclosure that our seasoned Florida foreclosure defense lawyer can defend your case. According to Florida Statute §559.715, banks must provide a written notice to homeowners every time there is a mortgage transfer.

Within thirty days of the assignment to the homeowner, the notice served under the statute should be sent. If the homeowner or borrower denies the existence of the notice, the court can rule the foreclosure case in favor of the homeowner.

Improper Mortgage Payment Accounting

The servicers of mortgage loans must apply payments and charges to the mortgage loan conformance to the federal 12 U.S.C. §2605. However, suppose that it is not followed, and the servicer fails to credit payments properly or charge costs in conformance with the statute. In that case, the lender/bank may then have a problem in carrying out the foreclosure action. In this situation, our Florida foreclosure defense lawyer is in a strong position to successfully argue and stop the bank from claiming a mortgage default. The rules governing mortgage loan servicing were violated.

Non-Compliance to HUD Requirements

As per the National Housing Act (12 U.S.C. §1701) statute, lenders must provide counseling options to homeowners of the loans. These counseling options are offered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This affirmative duty is imposed on the lenders of the mortgage. In other words, the homeowners don’t have to request this piece of information before the lender provides them with such options. Therefore, the homeowner has the legal right to raise this matter in the foreclosure case. Here the burden to prove the condition was fulfilled is on the lender. If they fail to prove, the court shall then reject the grant or approval of the foreclosure led by the bank. The rejection is based on failing to fulfill a condition precedent of the foreclosure.  

Strategies for Foreclosure Avoidance

There are numerous more options and strategies to avoid foreclosure in Florida and achieve a desirable result. However, when facing an impending eviction due to foreclosure, it becomes difficult for homeowners to explore these possibilities and opportunities.

Therefore, if you’re in default and the proceedings for foreclosure has not started as yet, or if we are in the middle of defending the foreclosure action in court, our Florida foreclosure defense lawyer can work with the bank/lender to negotiate a suitable alternative to avoid foreclosure.

At Shiner Law Group, our Florida foreclosure defense lawyer is strongly committed to taking every step to help you keep your home or obtain the best result possible when faced with foreclosure.

These strategies for foreclosure avoidance include:

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

This is when you (homeowner) voluntarily give the property title to the mortgage company. It further helps in avoiding the consequences of a foreclosure, which are as follows:

  • It may damage your credit, thereby impacting your ability to get new credit, housing, credit, and even employment. This impact can last for several years
  • May owe a deficiency balance after the foreclosure sale
  • Lose relocation assistance and leasing opportunities that may otherwise be available with other options
  • Moreover, lenders most often accept this deed because it saves them time and legal fees, and more importantly, allows them to close the matter efficiently than filing for foreclosure.

Short Sales

It doesn’t make sense to keep the house if you owe more on the mortgage than the property’s value. However, on the other hand, if you let it go through foreclosure, it will lower your credit. Thus, an alternate strategy could be to find a potential buyer for your home and negotiate with the lender to accept the purchase price as the payment in full for the mortgage owed.

By seeking the legal assistance of our Florida foreclosure defense lawyer, you can ensure that negotiations are fruitful and that you are not held responsible for any deficiency later, such as the difference between the mortgage amount and the purchase price.

Furthermore, a short sale is a suitable option for those homeowners who have no equity in the house and wish to leave the house without going through foreclosure. Besides this, you can minimize the damage to your credit score and walkway without a lengthy legal battle.

Short Payoff

You may be faced with a foreclosure even when you are currently on mortgage payments. Thus, you may find yourself stuck owing more on the mortgage than your home is worth. The short payoff is the best strategy to get out of an underwater mortgage. Our Florida foreclosure defense lawyer can negotiate with the lender to accept a lower amount to fulfill the mortgage. We have good know-how in short payoff negotiations to deal with lenders.

Loan Modifications

This is another strategy for foreclosure avoidance. Under this strategy, our lawyer can negotiate with the lender to create a permanent change to either one or more terms on the mortgage agreement. This modification can help reduce the payments every month by:

  • Lowering the interest rate
  • Eliminating late fees
  • Increasing repayment period
  • Reducing principal balance
  • Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankrupt is also known as the reorganization bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy gives you an opportunity to reorganize your debt into manageable payments. In addition to this, without additional interest charges from the lender, it can give you up to five years to catch up on your missed mortgage monthly payments.

Moreover, it may also help you remove a second home mortgage if you have two mortgages and your primary mortgage exceeds the current market value of the property. Thus, once the mortgage is removed, it shall be treated like any other unsecured debt in the bankruptcy.

Once you file a bankruptcy, the court will enact a stay automatically. Hence, all collection efforts from the lender shall be stopped immediately. In other words, you will not get collection calls and experience wage garnishment. Also, the stay on foreclosure gives you time to organize finances and prepare for a legal challenge to the foreclosure.

Speak With A Foreclosure Defense Lawyer Today

At Shiner Law Group, our Florida foreclosure defense lawyer has the experience and necessary skills to avoid and defend foreclosures efficiently and effectively. Schedule a consultation with us to discuss your case. Upon reviewing your case, our lawyer can easily recognize whether the lender lacks the standing to foreclose due to the wrong mortgage assignment or even unfair lending practices. This understanding works as a defense and is much needed to save homeowners from undergoing foreclosure or delay foreclosure for years.

We can use foreclosure defenses and alternatives to help you successfully manage your Florida home mortgage and regain your financial health. Allow us to review your case and help you select a strategy that best suits your individual needs.

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