When faced with a Florida foreclosure, a number of thoughts go through your mind—people tell you things about what to expect, you get e-mails and letters that make all sorts of promises, you hear rumors of others and what happened to them. It’s confusing to sort it out and decide the proper course of action.

In earlier articles, I discussed what to expect and choices available. Now it’s time to put to rest some wrong ideas that seem to be most common among clients that come to me for advice.

  1. Just because you have been served with a foreclosure lawsuit, you do NOT have to leave your house…at least not yet. As explained in my newsletter about the process, foreclosure can take one, two or three years depending on the bank, the lawyers and the court system. You do NOT have to move out until it’s all over, and definitely not when it’s just starting. That means that you have until the judgment has been entered and the house sold at a foreclosure sale in the courthouse—and that happens way down the line. You get plenty of notice if you pay a little attention and you will know when it’s time to leave. The important thing to remember is that the lawsuit itself does NOT require you to move out, it’s at the very end, many months away, that you will finally have to give up the house. In the meantime, you stay in it and it’s still yours.
  2. Just because you have been served with a foreclosure lawsuit, the negotiating is NOT over. Often the banks will promise to work with you, to modify your mortgage, to make your payments smaller, to move the late payments till the end of the payment time. You try to do as they ask, to give them the paperwork, the information, the documents they request but it’s never enough. Suddenly a man shows up at your door and says that you’ve been sued by the bank for foreclosure. That’s strange, you thought everything was being taken care of, that it was all coming together and now the bank has stabbed you in the back with this lawsuit. Remember, you can still continue to find a way to keep your house. Often the people at the bank who are working with you to solve the problem don’t even know that the foreclosure department has referred the case to a lawyer. Keep trying and you still may have a chance to fix it so you can stay.
  3. You believe that you should be able to make partial payments, payments less than the total amount owed for all the time you’ve missed. Not so, no bank will accept less than the full amount to bring the account current unless a very specific plan has been put in writing and agreed upon. If you send in part of the money owed, it will be sent back. If the bank does accept any part payment they may be required to start the whole process of finding you in default all over again. They don’t want to do that so they insist on ALL of the payments—interest, late fees, costs—that are necessary to put your mortgage back where it should be. Again, the only exception is if you and the bank have agreed on a workout plan and it has been put in writing.
  4. You believe that you can just give the bank a deed to your house and walk away. It is possible that a bank will take what they call a ‘Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure’, however, don’t count on it. A deed is no good if you have a second mortgage, a home equity line of credit, a lien, a judgment, or anything else the messes up the title to your house. Also, a deed is just too fast for most banks, they can’t react to getting your house back without all of the time that a court foreclosure takes, they simply aren’t that organized. Also, even if they do consider a deed, there will be many hoops for you to jump through. You will have to fill out financial disclosures, have an appraisal, produce documents, and perform a number of other requirements that will seem to take forever. Finally, if the bank has already started foreclosure, its often cheaper for them to just finish that process than change directions and take a deed. There are a number of costs that go along with a deed that make it somewhat expensive, especially if they’ve already spent money in the court proceeding.
  5. You believe that a bank will act logically and in their own best interest. Don’t. Most banks are huge corporations run by executives, upper management, middle management, lower management and the front line hourly employees who actually do most of the work. You never get past the front line hourly folks. They just want to do their job and get a paycheck. What’s best for the company is not their problem. They follow procedures written by higher-ups who have never dealt with the reality of someone who is losing their home, who don’t really understand what is taking place in the world, who have never faced unemployment, who are making decisions based on some economic formula that doesn’t take you into account. Your goal is to be tougher then they are, to push your position, to never let up. Sooner or later, despite the fact that the bank doesn’t really care, they deal with you because it’s the easiest thing for them to do.

Remember, this is just a summary of the entire confusing process. If you have a problem and need more information, call or e-mail Your Florida Attorney for an appointment, right here in Ocala, and I’ll be glad to talk with you. That’s mcooper@michaeljcooper.com, 352-732-4500.