Foreclosure Q & A
Foreclosure Process in Florida
If you receive a lis pendens which is the beginning of the foreclosure process in Florida, it’s time to call an experienced Florida foreclosure attorney Eric Lanigan or Roddy Lanigan of Lanigan and Lanigan, P.L.
Please note: It is imperative that you keep a file to hold all of your foreclosure documents. All the letters from your lender are important in your foreclosure defense. Every single letter, bill, delivery that you receive from your lender or your lender’s law firm or attorney is important. You should keep note of time, date and names from phone calls that you make or that are made to you from the lender.
Forensic audits may be done to review your foreclosure papers completely for errors made by the lenders. Lenders who Robo-signed accounts signed in multiple locations on mortgage loan papers. Robo-signing is an illegal action where signatures were placed by staff who were not working in actual positions for the bank. For example, a loan modification staff person may have signed twice, illegally, listing him or herself as the bank loan vice president.
While Robo-signing may be a term that you’ve heard in the news, it’s an actual illegal activity. Banks have committed fraud by using and allowing illegal signatures by bank staff members. If your foreclosure papers are reviewed and a forensic audit is done to check and review the legality of your foreclosure paperwork, errors may be uncovered.
What does this mean for you? It will depend upon the errors that are uncovered. There may have been inappropriate signatures, or the signatures may be correct: only a foreclosure attorney will know the difference.
Keep this file and bring it to the meeting with the Lanigans. You may visit the Winter Park office at 831 W. Morse Blvd. to make an appointment at either office.
Steps 1 through 5: When You Get the Foreclosure Notice
Step 1: You’ll receive a foreclosure notice from an attorney or law firm representing your lender from FedEX, USPS or UPS. You don’t need to panic, they’re not going to put locks on the doors and kick you out, but you need to act immediately.
Step 2: It’s time to call an experienced Florida foreclosure attorney. Consider working with Eric Lanigan who has practiced Florida law since 1976. Or contact Orlando, Florida, foreclosure lawyer Roddy Lanigan who has practiced law with Lanigan and Lanigan since 2007.
Note: Price shopping is best left to the grocery store not when hiring a foreclosure defense attorney. If you want to try to save your most valuable asset, your home, you had better hire the best attorney to try to solve the problem. If you’ve waited months to handle a foreclosure, there may still be time, so make the call today. The sooner you act, the sooner a foreclosure defense can begin.
Step 3: Homeowners need to prepare for a fight and need an attorney who can find a strong defense to stop or prevent the foreclosure defense of your property. The foreclosure process in Florida begins the moment you receive legal notice that your mortgage is in default. There’s a limited time frame to act. While the process is indeed complex, it’s commonly defended. The Lanigans have defended many hundreds of Florida homes from foreclosure.
Step 4: Listen to your foreclosure defense attorney for direction. Don’t call the bank, don’t sign any agreement, don’t negotiate, don’t send in payments, don’t call a realtor. And whatever you do, do not take the advice of an unlicensed person or agency. Here is a video on this dangerous practice on the Lanigan&Lanigan YouTube Channel called “Unlicensed Legal Advice is Dangerous If You’re in Foreclosure.” Turn everything over to the capable hands of your foreclosure defense attorney.
Step 5: Choose a Florida foreclosure attorney wisely. Florida clients have been choosing to with foreclosure lawyer Eric Lanigan and Roddy Lanigan because they personally research and handle all foreclosure paperwork. The Lanigans meet personally with every client. There is no hand-off to a paralegal, assistant.
The paperwork is the heart of the foreclosure defense. Knowing where the problems are, what the mistakes are, what the challenges are will be uncovered in the foreclosure and pre-foreclosure paperwork. The Lanigans look for errors, omissions, mistakes, improprieties that may be used to try to save your home. There are many questions to answer. Carefully organized paperwork to present to the Lanigans to get the foreclosure defense process moving.
Foreclosure Law Change June 2013
The foreclosure process in Florida changed in June 2013. Foreclosures were clogging the Florida courts so lawmakers changed Florida foreclosure law to make it move a little more quickly. After the law was passed, it has sped up the process. The Florida’s home foreclosure process used to take up to three years, even longer.
However, the new Florida foreclosure law changes how banks and lenders can go after families and individuals to repossess the homes. The burden of proof has switched from the plaintiff, banks and lenders, to the defendant, homeowners. Homeowners have to prove the bank lacks the legal right to take a home within 20 to 45 days of the date that the bank served the foreclosure notice.
Usually the homeowner is two to five months late in payments before foreclosure papers are sent. This notice is sent because the homeowner has not been paying their mortgage in full or is not paying it on time. When payments are late or if any partial payments are made, there is little a layperson can do to stop a foreclosure.
Foreclosure is NOT a DIY Project
Foreclosure is a very serious legal process and it is never a do-it-yourself project. The banks have an attorney and have the top Florida lawyers in the state. Every aspect of foreclosure is important, it’s time sensitive and requires legal attention to detail. By taking an hour, investing in a consultation with Lanigan & Lanigan, you’ll find out what your situation is, what your options are and what kind of timeline you’ll be looking at based on your choices.
Do not start packing the house up to move. The foreclosure process takes time and you’re not going to be evicted. Relax and know that by working with experienced foreclosure lawyers your legal problems can be handled and resolved.
Worst case scenario, you’re months late on paying your mortgage. The lender is going to write to you and say, you’re late. You’re behind and you can make it right by paying in full, with late fees and penalties–sometimes. Or they’re going to file a foreclosure suit against you to get title back on your home because you defaulted on the loan.
How Long Does Foreclosure Take?
How long does a foreclosure take? As of February 1, 2012, in Central Florida it takes about 24 months minimum from start to finish on a foreclosure on average. Lanigan and Lanigan have had foreclosure clients who have taken 36 months. There are clients who due to varied circumstance have been in foreclosure for over three years. Individual reasons vary. Do not compare any situation of your own to this situation.
Eric and Roddy Lanigan said that the amount of time a foreclosure takes within the Central Florida market and with the large number of people filing foreclosures through the law firm cannot be predicted. The rocket docket has been stopped (cases were being rushed to get foreclosures completed due to extreme volume) at the Orlando courthouse.
All Florida Foreclosures Differ
Nobody really knows how long an average foreclosure is going to take. There are so many foreclosures happening really quickly, rapidly increasing over the last three years. In addition, there is a new foreclosure law that will drastically affect the amount of time that a foreclosure will take.
All Florida foreclosures differ. There is no way to predict the amount of time it will take to foreclose on a business or individual in Florida. Don’t listen to a friend or associate claiming that you can save money, be in foreclosure process for many months. The new foreclosure law in Florida has altered the way that foreclosure occurs.
The first thing to do is to keep all of your paperwork from the moment your mortgage cannot be paid. Keep letters. Keep FedEX, USPS and UPS deliveries from the lender. Then, bring the file to the foreclosure attorney immediately.
Some people who face foreclosures are just going to give up on saving the home. They’re not concerned about having bad credit because they’ve already filed bankruptcy. They feel that they don’t have to do anything because the debt is already discharged.
But what if you could have the mortgage refinanced, receive a lowered APR, have a portion of the principal balance forgiven? There are still options if you respond by going to meet with an attorney who will show you your options.
There are people still in their homes who are trying to workout their mortgages with a refinance or what is known as a mortgage workout. There is not a foreclosure damaging their credit. They are trying to save their homes and looking at the options that will vary based on their financial situations. They are paying for insurance. They are paying the attorneys for foreclosure help and they are determining what is best for them based on what they want and what is affordable.
What is a Short Sale?
What is a short sale? In a short sale the bank agrees to allow you to sell your home for less than what you owe on it. By working with an attorney who will negotiate with the lender on your first and second mortgage repayments you may be able to avoid the difference between what you owe and what you sell the home for. This difference is known as a deficiency.
The premise of a short sale is to short the lender: you’re selling your home for an amount SHORT of what is owed. But the big issue is whether a lender will forgive that amount, whether you will be required to take out a smaller, low interest loan to repay the deficiency or whether using existing cash, plus, funds from a national program that provides loans or grants to homeowners to repay what is still owed.
A short sale is NOT a quick, short sale. Remember, the SHORT comes from the shortened or lesser amount that is repaid the lender. The short sale process can take many, many months.
No short sale is the same and every case is different because home value, loan amount and the economic situation of the homeowner varies. If you’re going to do a short sale you absolutely need an attorney to oversee the documents that you sign at the closing. An attorney can try to make sure that it’s structured in a way that you are not responsible for the deficiency.
What is a Deficiency?
There is likely to be a difference in what a home sells for and what is owed to the bank due to the many upside down or under water Florida properties today. A home that is sold through a short sale may benefit from using a short sale specific realtor. A home in short sale may be in need of repair which will require a specific marketing plan and a special buyer which means the short sale is not a short process.
The large concern of any homeowner considering a short sale is the deficiency: Will you or won’t you be required to repay the full amount of the loan, and often second loan on a home. The home may be under water meaning its value is vastly lower than what is owed on the mortgage.
Lenders are tough to negotiate with. Often a very kind person from the lender’s office will call and suggest to you that you sell the home through a short sale. But the danger lies in agreeing to do so without a legally binding document that keeps you from having to pay back the deficiency. The lender knows that you’re stressed out and that you’d like to sell the property and get it and the overwhelming debt off of your back. But the suggestion by the bank to do a short sale does not mean that the bank or lender will be OK or that they approve of receiving less money back than is owed on the home.
That short sale comes with a price tag known as a deficiency. A deficiency is the amount of money between what an owner owes on a home and what a home is sold for in a short sale. It’s the difference in price for what’s on the mortgage a person holds and what the short sale brings in.
If there’s a shortage in what the home sells for and what is still owed on the mortgage after a short sale is completed there can be a deficiency. The homeowner isn’t automatically forgiven a deficiency. In fact, why would a bank forgive any part of the principal owed on a home? Only when a homeowner is covered by legal language that only an attorney can assure through negotiation in the closing documents of a short sale is a deficiency eliminated. Otherwise the homeowner can be 100% responsible for paying the amount of the deficiency.
What’s the Worst That Can Happen?
There are many situations and every case is different. What’s the worst that can happen? But an example is someone who tries to avoid bankruptcy and foreclosure, but ends up filing bankruptcy after owing the deficiency from the short sale.
The deficiency amount was so high that the individual could never make it up and has to file bankruptcy to discharge the debt from the deficiency. Filing bankruptcy and foreclosure can happen when you wait too long to do anything to avoid the foreclosure.
Don’t wait. Don’t ignore the notices. There are many ways to avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy. Find out what the choices are from Eric and Roddy Lanigan so that you can stay in your home or negotiate a mortgage workout.
The Economics of Foreclosure
You want an attorney that understands how foreclosures work economically because your personal finance determines foreclosure choices. What are the economics of foreclosure? What makes sense and what the banks think makes sense. Does your attorney actually understand how the banks operate?
When you have an attorney who understand the way that banks think and what your situation is financially, that’s when you’re going to get a best case scenario. You’re in a better position of keeping your home when you walk in and sit down for that mediation.
The attorney can examine your file and determine if you have any defenses including:
a. Is your mortgage signed?
b. Was there a “robo-signer”?
c. Is the bank the lender who holds the mortgage on the home?
There are many options and when you come to the offices of Lanigan and Lanigan. They will carefully review your economic situation, the value of your home, your mortgage, your economic statements. Then they ask you questions. They’ll find out what you want and work together with you for the best outcome. You’ll decide from the choices they provide what will be in your best interests.
Do Foreclosure Papers Mean Eviction?
One of fears homeowners have is do foreclosure papers mean eviction? After actually receiving a foreclosure notice there is a fear that they are going to be immediately ejected from their home with no other option for their home or for their family. That is simply not the case if you follow the steps correctly after being served with a complaint.
On average in Central Florida right now a foreclosure is taking between 12 and 24 months to complete. The bank does not own the home if you stop paying. You own the home until the bank forecloses on it. They are suing you for foreclosure in court to regain the title free and clear from you for the interest in the home.
When do I Hire an Attorney?
When do I hire an attorney? It’s important that you go and engage an experienced attorney to represent you in the matter after you’ve been served with a foreclosure complaint because you do have options. There are many. If you take the right steps and seek legal representation you are not going to get tossed out of your home tomorrow.
In a foreclosure situation timing is absolutely imperative. After being served with a foreclosure complaint the most important thing that you can do is to see an attorney. Not next week, not the week after, but the next day you should have an appointment with a licensed attorney.
Your bank has an attorney and if you call that attorney you had better be informed before you make any verbal or written commitments.
Foreclosure Defense & Mortgage Workouts
Small to medium-sized businesses and individuals and companies usually wait until a foreclosure is filed before coming in to speak with an attorney about what to do when a foreclosure notice is received.
Lanigan and Lanigan, P.L., tell all clients with mortgage payment problems that waiting is the biggest mistake of all. People who wait until the foreclosure has been filed have missed out and eliminated the many openings to work something out with the bank. The idea is not to wait or lose any opportunity to make changes. Options will disappear and your family home or your business property can end up in foreclosure when you do nothing. There is foreclosure defense & mortgage workouts to possibly address the problems you face.
Bankruptcy After Foreclosure? Yes
Can you face bankruptcy after foreclosure? Yes. There are many situations and every case is different. But an example is someone who tries to avoid bankruptcy and foreclosure, but ends up filing bankruptcy after owing the deficiency from the short sale. The deficiency amount was so high that the individual could never make it up and has to file bankruptcy to discharge the debt from the deficiency.
Will I See an Attorney in the First Meeting?
Foreclosures are form-driven and at Lanigan and Lanigan, P.L., all foreclosure cases are overseen and handled personally by Eric and Roddy Lanigan for accurate and careful execution of all forms. Most clients want to know will I see an attorney in the first meeting? Yes.
Every pleading, every file is prepared personally. It’s prepared by and signed only by Eric or Roddy Lanigan. There are no paralegals or assistants: only the Lanigans.
They feel that they’re a family firm. They’re a small firm. They’ve purposely made the decision not to go big. They feel that we do a better service to our clients by personally overseeing every single case. They prepare the pleadings ourselves and sign them. They answer phone calls and talk with clients directly. It’s their choice to be close to the work and to their clients as they go through the legal process of foreclosure.
What Lanigan and Lanigan Provide Clients
One of the most important things to look for in a foreclosure attorney is finding one who understands the process and understands how mediation fits into the process. One who can look at your financial statements, who has done an evaluation on the value of your home; looks at the cost of your home, the appraised value of your home vs. any equity in your home. What Lanigan and Lanigan provide clients is experience and representation with a personal touch.
Why Hire an Attorney For a Foreclosure?
Why hire an attorney for a foreclosure? In any foreclosure case, without an attorney, a homeowner can lose the home, owe a deficiency and have to file bankruptcy because they went through a short sale without knowing they were responsible for the deficiency. The bank contacts the homeowner, says, yes, they could do a short sale; they didn’t have the right document signed because they did it on their own. The only creditor on a bankruptcy was the bank that held the mortgage on the home.
An experienced foreclosure attorney can examine your file and determine if you have any defenses. Was your mortgage signed? Was it a situation where you had your mortgage “robo-signed” at the bank?
The No. 1 one thing to look for is whether your attorney is someone who understands the economics of a foreclosure. Do they understand how the banks operate and what they’re doing on that end?
If the attorney does have that knowledge it can be one of the best reasons and one of the greatest likelihoods that you’re going to have in keeping your home and working out a deal in the mediation.
Non-Attorney Companies Offering Help
Be very skeptical of anyone who comes to you, who is not an attorney but who says that they can help you. Your rights are not their interest. They’re in it for financial gain. There are non-attorney companies offering help. Be cautious and only take advice from an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Stay If You Can Afford It
Sometimes clients say “I cannot lose this home under any circumstance.” And many times after The Lanigans take people through an economic analysis there is no way some families or individuals should stay in the home. You can’t argue with numbers that show you can’t afford it.
You can stay if you can afford it. The only way to stay is to bring in additional income to pay for the home.
Benefits to Keeping Your Home
Does it make any economic sense for you to keep your home? A lot of times people ask how to go into foreclosure because they know they’re going to run out of money soon and are afraid of what will happen to their home. Do they file bankruptcy, foreclosure or both? Every situation is different. Find out if there are benefits to keeping your home. There is not one easy answer so it’s best to receive a consultation with Lanigan and Lanigan to clarify options with a plan that makes sense for individuals and businesses.