Although the economy is looking up and record foreclosures are down, you may still find yourself in foreclosure. If losing your home is something you can’t fathom, realize that the first few steps you take can determine the outcome. Similar to diagnosing a health issue with an internet search, the last thing you want to do is attempt to defend yourself using the advice (and form templates) of non-attorneys that do not fully understand your current situation. Attempting to square off with the bank’s attorneys on your own can be nerve-wracking. Everyone’s situation is different, but there are certain steps you should not take. Here are three of them:
SEE ALSO: 7 Pitfalls to Avoid in a Short Sale
Facing foreclosure is usually coupled with a job loss, health issue or some other life-changing event. The problems you face can be overwhelming and a common tendency is to avoid the problems one is facing. To be sure, the foreclosure lawsuit won’t go away of you ignore it. By doing nothing, the bank’s attorneys will swiftly take control of the case, default you an get a final judgment before you know it. By filing a pleading – no matter what it may be – you could give yourself the time you need to figure out what you need to do to save your home. However, by filing the wrong pleading, you could still end up facing a sale date much sooner than you should.
Your first inclination is to answer the complaint. Or maybe write a long letter to the judge explaining why you haven’t made the payments on your loan (it happens more often than I like to think). Certainly, the procedures involved with any court case require that you file an Answer that responds to the allegations in the Complaint (that court document and summons you were officially served with). However, by filing the Answer prematurely and prior to filing other motions, will waive your right to file motions that can have a dramatic effect on the on the outcome. Each case is different, however, there are steps that you can take prior to filing the Answer. Figuring what the proper initial pleading is can be difficult, I know. But don’t just file an Answer or write a long letter to the judge. Which leads us to the third thing you shouldn’t do.
While you may think that a foreclosure defense attorney is expensive, failing to get the advice of one can potentially cost you months – if not years – of staying in your home pending the resolution of your case. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is not expensive, particularly when you realize that an attorney can keep you in your home much longer than you can on your own.
If you ever find yourself fighting for your home in a foreclosure lawsuit, you need every day or month you can muster. The less time you have will only make the prospect of saving your home that much more difficult. It can certainly mean the difference between losing it outright or finding a resolution that can help you keep your home (a loan modification, for example, can take months to finalize). By taking the wrong steps, not only do you risk having the case proceed quickly, but you may also have lost an opportunity to fight and win your case. Indeed, not all foreclosures end in the banks taking the homes. But if you do any of the three steps mentioned above, you may have little to no chance of saving your home.
Kevin L. Deeb writes for Florida Law Talk, a family of websites that covers Florida’s current legal issues. He is an attorney with Florida Consumer Law Group, P.A. handling Consumer Law and Real Estate Law matters for clients in Florida. You may reach him at info@defendusnow or on Twitter at @FlaConsumer