Foreclosure can be a scary and overwhelming process. The thought of foreclosure alone is enough to spark fear and anxiety in many homeowners. After all, losing a home means losing shelter for you and your family, and also your sense of security.
Your lender may begin the process of foreclosing on your home or property if your loan has gone into default. A default occurs when you, as the borrower or mortgagor, fail to keep up with the terms of the mortgage. These terms are related to the monthly payment of the mortgage, but they also relate to maintaining property insurance and paying taxes. Therefore, if you fail to pay taxes or property insurance, then you may still face foreclosure.
In this article, we will explain more about what happens if your home or property goes into foreclosure.
An Overview of the Foreclosure Process in Florida
The bank or other lender will first let you know that you are in default by sending a letter. They will usually give you some time to cure or fix the default, such as making up missed payments or making alternate payment arrangements. The foreclosure process only begins after you fail to cure the default as required. This notice of default is a required first step before the lender can file a formal foreclosure action.
In general, if you miss one payment on your mortgage, your bank is unlikely to immediately start the foreclosure process. Instead, you may want to reach out to your lender to make payment arrangements and let them know when they can expect payment. Generally, the loan must have been delinquent for over 120 days before the foreclosure process begins.
The foreclosure process is governed by statute in Florida. That means that there are very specific requirements that your lender must follow to complete the process. If the lender skips any of these steps or does not provide the right notices to you and your family, then the foreclosure complaint can be set aside entirely. The lender will have to restart the process if they make those types of errors.
Here is what the foreclosure process in Florida looks like:
The formal foreclosure process starts with the lender filing a complaint with the Florida State Court. The complaint will provide the basic terms of the loan agreement and information about the alleged default.
As part of this first step, the lender will also file a lis pendens. This is a document that the bank files with the county recorder to let others know that there is litigation pending against particular real estate.
The complaint and summons must be delivered in a particular way that is valid according to Florida State law. Under most circumstances, the sheriff will deliver the complaint and summons to you in person.
You have a limited amount of time in which you must respond to the complaint and summons. This response is called an “Answer”. The answer must be filed within 20 days of the date that you were personally served. You must also assert any defenses that you may have at that time. It is a good idea to have a foreclosure attorney in Stuart, Florida to help you with this process.
The lender will often file what is known as a “motion for summary judgment”. This type of motion asks the Court to rule in favor of the bank as it is relatively easy to show that payments were not made as promised, for example.
However, the motion for summary judgment is not granted in every case. In situations where the case continues, it will proceed to trial so that both sides can present their arguments to a judge. The parties will both also engage in discovery to gather facts and evidence for use during the trial.
How to Handle a Foreclosure in Stuart, Florida
It is much easier to address a foreclosure proceeding with a knowledgeable attorney on your side. Your lawyer will be able to help you negotiate with the bank, spot any non-compliance with Florida law in the foreclosure process, and guide you through the litigation process.