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Understanding the Foreclosure Process

How the Foreclosure Process Works

Falling behind on your payments and getting served with a foreclosure lawsuit is very unsettling. If you are in this situation, you probably have lots of questions about the foreclosure process, how a lawyer might be able to help, and whether you can even afford one. To help you understand how foreclosures usually proceed in Florida, we have assembled a basic timeline that shows key dates and events that can typically take place.

If you or someone you know is facing foreclosure, the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood foreclosure defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Evan M. Rosen, can help. Contact us for a consultation to find out more details about the foreclosure process and the defenses that might be available at 754-400-5150 or by filling out our online form.

Florida’s Foreclosure Process

A borrower is in “default” when they stop making payments to the lender as required by the terms of the note and mortgage. If payments are not brought current or an adequate settlement is not quickly reached, a lawsuit will almost certainly be filed.

Plaintiffs in foreclosure actions are held to the same burden of proof as any plaintiff in a civil matter—they must prove each element of their case by a preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance means the greater weight of the evidence.

A foreclosure plaintiff “must show: (1) an agreement; (2) a default; (3) an acceleration of debt to maturity; and (4) the amount due.” Bank of Am., N.A. v. Delgado, 166 So. 3d 857, 859 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015) (citing Kelsey v. SunTrust Mortg., Inc., 131 So.3d 825, 826 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014); Ernest v. Carter, 368 So.2d 428, 429 (Fla. 2d DCA 1979)).

Part of proving the agreement includes proving that the party suing is the correct party. This is known as “standing” and it requires the plaintiff to plead in the complaint—and prove—how they are entitled to foreclose. There are a few ways a bank can do this. Each with their own unique issues and challenges.

Plaintiffs in the foreclosure lawsuits are often a bank, servicer, investor, trust, or government sponsored entity (“GSE”), like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. In almost every case, this party is not the original lender listed on the closing documents.

In addition to standing, a foreclosing entity must prove that the defendant breached the loan agreement, that the plaintiff complied with all contractual and statutory “conditions precedent,” and that the plaintiff incurred damages. Damages must be a specific amount. Because Florida is a “judicial foreclosure” state, a court must intervene in order for a plaintiff to foreclose on a property. Some other “non-judicial” states do not require a court’s involvement for a lender to take back a mortgaged property when the borrower has defaulted.

It is also extremely important to know that Florida is also considered a “right of recourse” state. This means that a lender has the right to go after the borrower for recourse or the amount of the loan that was not satisfied by the foreclosure auction. In other words, if you owe $100,000 on a property that you lose in foreclosure and the property is only worth $75,000 at the time of the foreclosure sale, the foreclosing party has a right to pursue you for the $25,000 deficiency. This can either be pursued as part of the foreclosure action, as it is typically done, or a bank can file a separate lawsuit.

The timelines below set out the relevant periods in a typical pre-foreclosure and foreclosure process in Florida.

Pre-Foreclosure Timeline

  • Day 1: Payment is due but no payment is made.
  • Day 7-10: Lender/mortgage servicer calls borrower.
  • Day 16: Late charges begin to accrue.
  • Day 20-25: Lender/mortgage servicer calls and writes borrower.
  • Day 30: Default reported to credit bureaus and lender sends second letter.
  • Day 40: Lender/mortgage servicer sends letter with payment options.
  • Day 60: Lender/mortgage servicer sends demand letter or “acceleration notice.” Credit bureaus update their reports.
  • Day 90: Lender/mortgage servicer sends file to attorney. Credit bureaus update their reports.
  • Day 90+: Any time after 90 days, the entity claiming their entitlement to foreclose will typically file suit.

Foreclosure Timeline

  • Day 1: Complaint and lis pendens are filed. Those documents, along with a “summons,” are served on all defendants. This includes all borrowers and the property owner.
  • Day 20: A response is due. If no response is filed, plaintiff moves for default judgment. (With competent legal counsel, there can be a number of legitimate issues raised through motions, hearings, and discovery requests that would extend this time period greatly.)
  • Day 45-60 (If not represented by competent counsel): Court enters a default and then a default judgment. The pertinent statute requires a court to order the sale of the property on a specified day within 20-35 days of judgment. But sales can still lawfully take place later than 35 days and are sometimes set many months after judgment is “rendered.”
  • Day 80-95 (If not represented by competent counsel): Notice of sale published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a local publication, with last posting at least five days prior to sale. The auction is completed and the winning bidder applies five percent deposit from funds advanced electronically prior to sale and then pays the rest by noon the following day. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties conduct their auctions online. Certificate of sale is filed “promptly” after sale, and right of redemption ends when certificate of sale is filed.
  • Day 105 (If not represented by competent counsel): At least ten days after filing certificate of sale, certificate of title is issued. Title vests, and no further action is necessary unless property is still occupied.
  • Day 106 -119 (If not represented by competent counsel): If property is still occupied 1-14 days after certificate of title issues, sheriff issues notice to vacate. This commands the occupants of the property to vacate within 24 hours.
  • Day 119 – 140 (If not represented by competent counsel): Sheriff vacates the property and, if necessary, forcibly removes all occupants and personal property.

However, with competent counsel, this process can take many years, if the bank is, in fact, ever able to foreclose. We have helped clients obtain a satisfaction of mortgage giving them clear title to their home. We’ve also helped structured many different types of settlements to keep clients in their homes indefinitely.

Contact Our Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale Foreclosure Defense Attorneys Today

The information above is intended to be a brief overview to help you understand the basics of how the foreclosure process works.

To find out more about foreclosures or to inquire about how our Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood foreclosure defense attorneys can help, contact us today for a consultation at 754-400-5150 or by filling out our online form.

Let the lawyers and staff of the Law Offices of Evan M. Rosen serve you!

Client Reviews

Mr. Rosen was recommended to us by our friends and we highly recommend him for his excellent service. He represented us in the matter of foreclosure defense. His comprehensive and detailed knowledge of Florida law, federal law, and ongoing relevant cases was key to building a robust and winning...

Jadwiga M.

In a few words, Evan Rosen saved my house. He got a final judgment in my favor. The judge gave the bank many opportunities (continuance of the trial even a mistrial) to solve all the issues that Evan Rosen will bring up to the judge (issues that were wrong with my case). In the end, his arguments...

Oscar D.

I am so grateful first to god and for the blessing of putting attorney Evan Rosen and his team of professional, in our lives. If you are going through a foreclosure and don't know what to do, I can honestly tell you that attorney Evan Rosen is the person to talk (855-55-Rosen) he takes his time to...

Julie D.

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