South Florida has been one of the hardest hit markets in the United States by the Foreclosure Crisis. According to RealtyTrac, in July, 2012, 1 in every 361 homes in Miami-Dade County was currently in Foreclosure. Although many government and lender instituted programs exist to try and assist homeowners with their hardships, most of them involve a complicated application process, and have very stringent requirements and deadlines that if not met, could preclude you from ever qualifying for the relief in the future.
Foreclosure is the process by which a lender or bank takes control of a mortgaged property and sells it to raise money to pay on the debt created by the Note. In Florida, mortgage foreclosure is a judicial process. This means it is a lawsuit, similar to other kinds of lawsuits. It is formal and potentially complex. The point of a judicial foreclosure is for the lender to obtain from the court a judgment in foreclosure, and the right to hold a sale of the mortgaged property. The court is involved in the foreclosure process all the way through. So, if a borrower feels there is something wrong or improper occurring, he or she must raise those issues within the judicial foreclosure proceeding.
Due to the sheer volume and complexity involved in the Court foreclosure process, these cases can take a long time. But ignoring the problem will not make it go away, ever. Most people don’t realize that, even if they walk away and their foreclosed property is sold, they might still owe money to the lender. If the market value of the property is less than the amount owed on the mortgage debt, then the lender can obtain what is called a deficiency judgment for the difference against the original borrower. Since the bank has five years after the foreclosure judgment to even begin pursuing a deficiency judgment, many people who think their mortgage problem is behind them do not realize they have overlooked this serious problem.
Florida has the second highest foreclosure rate in the United States. Florida mortgages are heavily upside down and Florida law makes the process of pursuing deficiency judgments quite simple.
There are options available to you if you are currently in or facing a foreclosure lawsuit. You may have options you know nothing about, but as the process moves forward toward foreclosure and then toward deficiency judgment, the options that you may have disappear if you are not careful to preserve them. Careful analysis by a knowledgeable attorney who understands both foreclosure defense and bankruptcy is necessary, to determine and protect your rights.
Some alternatives to foreclosure and deficiency judgments include the following:
- Loan Modification
- Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure
- Short Sale
- Short Payoff
Some of these will allow you to stay in your home, others may require that you surrender your home to the bank, but many reduce or eliminate the potential for a deficiency judgment.
A Lawyer with experience in these areas can help you make the right decisions in these difficult times. For a free consultation, call us at (305) 771-3529 and speak with an Attorney that can help you with your issue.