Foreclosure proceedings begin with the filing of a civil action complaint, the recording of a notice that there is a lien (lis pendens) in the public records and the issuance of a summons to each defendant in the case, including the homeowner.
The courts have been inundated with foreclosures and have begun to aggressively push them to conclusion, regardless of whether the parties want that. Most homeowners what to either a) avoid a judgment for money that may haunt them for years ( deficiency judgment) and to buy time to either sell the property, or find another place to live; or b) modify their loan so they can remain in their house.
For either option the banks require a great deal of financial information and paperwork. They seem to be very good at notifying homeowners that they need the paperwork, but when it comes to processing it, they take much longer, often years.
Many clients report having to send the same paperwork over and over and over again and not getting anywhere. There have been a number of organizations that promise to get you modifications, but my experience is they seldom help at all and charge a lot. You can process the modification yourself, just document what you sent and make sure you are thorough.
However as the case proceeds closer to trial, banks lately seem to be more willing to agree to no deficiency judgment even without the paperwork in order to avoid a trial.
Once you are served the summons and complaint you will be given 20 days from the date you are served respond to the complaint. Your response should be filed with the Clerk of the Court and a copy sent to the plaintiff s attorney. If you fail to reply a default will likely be entered against you, and your ability to slow or defend the lawsuit will be extremely limited.
If you file a response you will have the chance to defend and buy time to accomplish what you want. The lawsuit process can take from a few months to years, depending on how you or your attorney proceed. At the end there is a determination by the court that will result in a judgment or dismissal.
If a Final Judgment is signed by the Judge it will instruct the Clerk of Court to sell the property at a public auction to the highest bidder. The Foreclosure Clerk assigns a date to sell the property and places a Notice of Sale in a publication that meets the requirements of the Florida Statutes. Notification is given to all parties.
On the day of the auction, the Clerk of Court will sell the property to the highest bidder. Once full payment of the bid amount has been timely received from the successful bidder, the sale is complete and the Certificate of Sale is issued to the new owner. The owner then generally gets the court to issue a writ of possession which the sheriff serves advising whomever is in the home that they have 24 hours to leave.
There are many ways a lawyer can help you defend your case and obtain a dismissal, avoid a money judgment or obtain a modification and remain in your home. Recently, as property values increase, some homeowners are able to sell their properties and pay off the loan, even walking away with some money. A half hour consult is an inexpensive way to check out your options.