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You’ve Been Served!
Don’t Ignore a Summons – Once you receive a summons and complaint a foreclosure action has already been filed in the court system. Pursuant to Florida law, you have twenty (20) days to file a written response with the court. If you do not file a response the lender will be able to file a motion for default and obtain a default judgment against you. A default means that you have no defenses to present in the case. Once a default is in place against you, you will be prevented from defending yourself at any later date, even if you have excellent defenses. It is true that most times a default will not be filed right on the twentieth day. This is due to the overwhelming number of foreclosure cases. But why take the chance? If you do not respond, or have an attorney respond for you, you will default which makes it very easy for the bank to obtain a sale date of your property.
Don’t file something you don’t want the bank to see – Before you file your response you need to be aware that everything you file will become a permanent record in the case. You also need to be aware that some defenses that may be available to you are waived if you do not raise them in your initial response. Therefore, it is imperative that you thoroughly examine your mortgage documents as well as the court documents for any defenses, defects or standing issues.
Don’t expect the lender to put the foreclosure on hold while you try to get a loan modification – Countless homeowners believe that the lender will halt foreclosure proceedings while they are going through the modification process. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Lenders most certainly continue with foreclosure proceedings while you apply for various alternatives. Your foreclosure may be put on hold if you are given a trial modification under the Making Home Affordable program, but if your final modification is denied, foreclosure proceedings will pick up right where they left off.
Don’t miss your court mandated mediation – In Florida the Supreme Court has mandated mediation for all residential homestead property in foreclosure. Mediation is a great opportunity for you to sit down with the bank representative and their attorney and try to work out a resolution to your mortgage issue. The bank representative must have settlement authority which means they must have the authority to offer you a modification, reinstatement or other resolution on the spot. The mediation centers that have been designated to handle these mediations will contact you shortly after you are served with the foreclosure documents. If you fail to take advantage of their services the lender will file an affidavit of non-compliance with the mediation program and you will miss a great opportunity to resolve your case.
Don’t represent yourself in court – You wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself, or give yourself a root canal. So why would you go into a hearing, stand in front of a judge, and try to defeat the bank’s attorney? The truth is, the legal process is complex and without the proper training you are ill-equipped to defend yourself. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve listened to heartbroken homeowners who came to me after trying to defend themselves and ended up with a judgment and a sale date on their property. For most people, a home is the single largest purchase you will ever make. It’s just not worth it to leave a foreclosure to chance. So before you walk into the courtroom consult with an experienced foreclosure attorney and make sure you are properly represented.
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