Although the foreclosure rate has fallen in the wake of the Great Recession, more than 1.1 million properties were repossessed in 2014. For those facing the prospect of losing their homes, the process can be confusing. Because lenders have different standards and practices, there is no way to know for certain how long it will take. Furthermore, the financial institution (typically a bank) that owns your mortgage is under no obligation to help you out. As such, it is always a good idea to hire a foreclosure attorney as soon as possible. With that in mind, here are answers to a few common questions you might have.
I Received A Foreclosure Notice. What Should I Do?
To initiate the process, mortgage lenders are required to file a foreclosure notice with the court. This notice expresses their intent to repossess your property on a certain date unless you can make up for all missed payments. Under the laws of most states, you have a firm deadline to either admit or deny that you missed payments. But even if you affirm that you are in arrears, you can enter a defense the court may consider. If, for example, someone in your family is suffering from a life-threatening condition that required you to exhaust your savings, a judge may take that into account. A foreclosure attorney cannot only help you file the necessary paperwork with the court, he or she can also represent you in all future legal proceedings.
How Long Does The Process Take?
Because different states have different laws, there is no way to say for certain. State averages range widely from six months to three years. With that said, hiring an attorney will almost certainly delay the process, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, the longer it lasts, the more time you will have to pay back what you owe.
How Can I Afford Legal Counsel?
It might surprise you to learn that the average foreclosure attorney doesn’t charge all that much. Because he or she knows the process inside and out, he or she generally asks for a flat fee of between $1,500 and $4,500. Now, that might seem like a lot when you can’t pay your mortgage, but it’s a drop in the proverbial bucket compared with what you’d spend on moving costs and future lawsuits. Even after they take your home, your lender has the right to sue you for missed payments. A reputable lawyer will help you fight these suits. He or she may even be able to arrange principal reductions, enabling you to pay much less on the total amount you owe.
How Can I Win?
In their haste to repossess a property, a mortgage lender may ignore established legal procedure. When this happen, a good representative may be able to stop or win a case. If he or she can prove that the lender violated state and/or federal laws, the case may be thrown out of court. At the very least, you will have more time to save your pennies and prepare for a fresh start.
If you have received a notice from your mortgage lender, do not delay. Contact an experienced attorney immediately.