Foreclosure survival guide - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, Florida-

Foreclosure survival guide

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Below is a list of tips compiled by a Florida Tri-County Foreclosure Defense Attorney's Group that every homeowner should be aware of when they are sued for foreclosure:

1)      You cannot protect what you do not defend.

2)      Do not ignore the lawsuit.  You have twenty days to respond. 

         Respond no matter what. 

Ignore your lender when you are told by their representative that "you are in foreclosure but have no sale date."  Run, do no walk to the courthouse and file your response to the lawsuit and send a copy to your lender's attorney.

  1. There is no cost to file a request for additional time and Judges are very fair about giving you additional time to file a response.
  2. Even if you are trying to complete a loan modification or short-sale, you will need to respond within. 20 days
  3. Decide what you want to do about your home.  Do you want to try to get your payments down so you can keep your home, do you want to give it back to the bank (This is called a Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure), or something else.  Very few homeowners will end up with free houses as a result of fraud and lost promissory notes, so you need to be realistic.  Additionally, principal reductions to current market value are endangered species so unless you are really committed to the fight, you may have to settle for less, but always try first for what you want.
  4. You should seriously consider hiring an attorney, or going to your local Legal Aid office for legal advice.  Attorneys know how best to defend your case and try to save your home.  Remember, if you qualify, Legal Aid attorneys are free. Make sure you take all documents received from your lender and their lawyers to this meeting.  Most foreclosure defense attorney will provide an initial consult free of charge so maximize that meeting by being prepared 
  5. Start to get your financial information together, so that you know what you can afford to do with your home. Keep track of all your conversations with the lenders representative. Document the date, time, identity, sum and substance of the call and get return email or address.
  6. If your financial situation is desperate, talk with a bankruptcy lawyer and discuss what your options are in bankruptcy, and how the bankruptcy courts can help you keep your home.
  7. Be leery of anyone coming to your house to discuss your foreclosure and claiming that they were sent by your lender.
  8. Most importantly, DON'T PANIC. The Sheriff is not going to come tomorrow and throw you out of your home *(but on the off chance that a realtor attempts to breaking into your house and change the locks---call the police and contact your lender's attorney and file a Notice of Hearing.  And Tell the Judge what happened.  You have RIGHTS, and you should explore all the legal resources at your disposal to protect your home.
  9. Engage a Foreclosure Defense Attorney.  The Foreclosure Lawsuit that you received was prepared by lawyers.  There was be many attorney's fighting against you.  You just need one ready and willing to fight for you.
  10. And back to the #1 thing to do – Do not let the twenty day period go by without doing something – and just ask for additional time if you are unsure what to do.

If a judgment is entered against you and you learn that your lender is under investigation or has declared a moratorium on foreclosures (like GMAC) or that the law firm that handled your foreclosure is under investigation, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.  You may be able to have your judgment set aside for fraud or misrepresentation.  Speak with someone as soon as possible to determine what your rights are and what your recourse should be.

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