If you are under water on your mortgage (i.e. you owe more than the house is actually worth) and you are having difficulty making monthly mortgage payments, you may want to consider a short sale. This type of sale may benefit you in the long-run by avoiding a hit to your credit from a foreclosure.[Read more…]
Every year, hundreds of people and companies are sued on debts and delinquent mortgages. Some of these actions are, of course, legitimate and very much actionable. However, plenty of others are false, fabricated, and bring about a lot of unnecessary physical and financial stress and anxiety for the affected parties.
If you or anyone you know has been served with a foreclosure notice, or you fear that you may be served one, it is important that you understand your legal rights and the possible answers, affirmative defenses, and/or counterclaims that may be filed on your behalf by an experienced Florida foreclosure defense attorney.
The following list of legal defenses may be available to you and/or your loved ones when combating a foreclosure. This list is not meant to be exhaustive and some of the listed defenses may not be applicable to your case.
In Florida, and across the country, many homeowners faced with a foreclosure notice pack up and just desert the home under the assumption that the bank will take over the property and sell it to someone else. However, after the 2008 real estate crash, many banks were confronted with thousands of vacant homes that were left to languish while the title remained in the vacated homeowner’s name. This led to the term “zombie foreclosure” joining common parlance in the real estate world.
According to the Q2 2015 Zombie Foreclosure Report released by RealtyTrac, the nation’s leading source for comprehensive housing data, over 127,000 homes actively in the foreclosure process were vacated by homeowners prior to a completed foreclosure. This represents 24 percent of all active foreclosures. Among all states, Florida came in at the second highest in zombie foreclosures with one in every 324 housing units, surpassed only by New Jersey’s one in every 210 housing units. Florida was closely followed by New York which had one in every 476 housing units, Nevada’s one in every 495 housing units, and Indiana’s one in every 574 housing units.
If you are behind on your mortgage payments, or already in foreclosure, you may still be deciding whether it makes sense to retain a Florida foreclosure defense attorney. Many people, especially those struggling financially, may be hesitant to speak to a lawyer out of fear of having to pay a big retainer fee or high hourly rates.
If you try to fight a foreclosure, it can be risky since the wrong decision could result in the loss of your home. Nevertheless, there are some steps you could take before speaking to a foreclosure lawyer. In some cases, someone facing foreclosure may not behind on mortgage payments, but the payment may be so high that the individual struggles each month to cobble enough funds together to cover the payment. In this scenario, you could contact your lender to see if you qualify to refinance your existing mortgage at a lower interest rate or even a mortgage modification. However, many mortgage companies will not consider a mortgage modification for an applicant who is current on their payments (creating a perverse incentive for people to get behind on their mortgage so they can qualify for a modification).
A foreclosure is a stressful and overwhelming experience. The homeowner may feel very much like David and view the mortgage service company like Goliath. This is understandable, but do not give up hope. You may be able to use one of the four following defenses against the foreclosure proceedings.
Improper Accounting of Your Mortgage Loan
You would think with many mortgages serviced by large banks employing experienced individuals, the error rate would be low; but you would be mistaken. In fact, the records of many mortgage service companies can be completely wrong. How? If your mortgage loan was chopped up and swapped around between multiple servicers, mistakes could have been made and the mortgage servicer attempting to foreclose on your home may not even realize these errors occurred.
The number of foreclosure actions instituted in the state of Florida over the past several years is huge. In fact, media outlets still regularly report on the foreclosure problems facing homeowners throughout the state. With the staggering number of foreclosure actions working their way through the courts – reportedly over 250,000 – it is not surprising that Florida Courts are struggling to keep up. A recent article examined the responses to foreclosure proceedings and the effects on homeowners.
Many people are still feeling the effects of the recession and struggling economy. For some, this includes falling behind on mortgage payments and losing their home – or coming dangerously close to having it happen. Thankfully, there are signs that the economy is improving, though this is not the case everywhere. A recent news article reported that foreclosures in most of Florida are on the decline, but the area of central Florida may not be seeing the same trend.