Guide to the Foreclosure Process in Florida
Many homeowners are underwater on their Florida mortgages, and many others are struggling to make payments on an unaffordable home loan. If you have fallen behind on payments, you may want to know more about the foreclosure process in Florida. Foreclosure can mean losing your house and destroying your credit, so avoiding foreclosure should be your biggest concern.
There is some good news for homeowners in Florida who are facing foreclosure: all foreclosures in the state must be handled in a court of law, which gives you additional time to fight the foreclosure process in Florida. This guide will help you to understand the entire process, from beginning to end, and provide you with options for stopping foreclosure or delaying it for as long as possible to give you more time to work out an agreement.
Step 1: Notice of Default
Once you have fallen behind on payments, if you and your lender have not talked to work out a payment plan, the foreclosure process in Florida begins when you are served with a “Notice of Default.” While your lender can send this notice after a month of missed payments, it is much more common for lenders to wait until you have fallen 3 months behind or more.
A Notice of Default tells you that you are in default and that legal proceedings are beginning as a result. If you receive a notice of default, you should contact your lender immediately to find out your options for halting the foreclosure process in Florida before legal paperwork is filed.
Step 2: The Lawsuit
If you do not respond to the notice of default, you will be subject to a lawsuit demanding full payment of the amount you owe for your mortgage. You will be served with a “Lis Pendens” that tells you that a lawsuit is pending in the state of Florida against you.
At this point, you will have 20 days to file an answer to the complaint. You are not obligated to file an answer, but doing so will delay the foreclosure process in Florida and give you more time to explore your options. If you file an answer, you will have a foreclosure hearing that will give you time to represent your side in front of a judge. If there has been mortgage or foreclosure fraud with your loan, you may be able to avoid the foreclosure process in Florida or delay it significantly.
Step 3: The Sale
If you lose at the hearing (or if you do not file an answer, which results in your mortgage lender winning the lawsuit automatically), you will be given 30-45 days before your property is sold to the highest bidder at auction.
There may still be time to pursue options for stopping the foreclosure process in Florida at this time, including refinancing your mortgage, selling your home as a “short sale,” or filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A foreclosure lawyer can advise you as to your options for delaying or stopping the foreclosure process in Florida when you have received a notice of sale.
Even after your property is sold at auction, you have a right of redemption for 10 days. This allows you 10 additional days to pay off your mortgage to avoid foreclosure before you can be removed from your home.