Foreclosure Questions and Answers

Foreclosure Questions and Answers

Foreclosure Q&AThe more you know, the better prepared you will be. Take some time to learn more about the process and other helpful hints.

Questions and Answers

Foreclosure may occur, but it doesn't have to. You can take action to save your home.


What should I do if I get behind in my mortgage payments?

It is never too late to receive help. By seeking help early, there is a greater chance of success in avoiding foreclosure. As soon as you anticipate problems in paying your mortgage payment, contact your mortgage servicer to explain your current financial situation. Many servicers are willing to work with you if you contact them immediately, because they understand that individuals and families can face temporary job loss, serious illness, or other major life events that can impact their ability to pay their mortgage. Contact your loan servicer's Loss Mitigation Department. Ask if you can participate in a "work out" resolution or obtain a loan modification. Be honest with the loss mitigation staff about your situation so they can help you choose the best option.


What is a "work out" resolution?

Generally, a "work out" resolution involves resuming payments and arranging to pay the past-due amount over a short period of time. Sometimes, lenders will allow a "loan modification" which might lower your interest rate or extend the final due date of your loan - making your monthly payments lower.


Where can I go to find help?

In addition to contacting your mortgage servicer, you can call the HOPE NOW Homeowner's Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673) or visit www.hopenow.com. They have independent nonprofits that provide HUD-approved counselors. You can call a housing counselor approved by HUD at: http://www.hud.gov/local/fl/homeownership/hsgcounseling.cfm or a local resource in your area. These counselors are experienced in communicating with mortgage servicers and are able to determine where you are in the process and what "work out" options may be available to you.


How do I know if I qualify for any alternatives to foreclosure?
Your mortgage servicer and a HUD-approved housing counselor will be able to determine if you qualify for any of the alternatives.


What should I do if I receive letters saying my home is going to be foreclosed upon?
Do not ignore letters or phone calls from your mortgage servicer. If you are having difficulty in making your payments, take action immediately by calling or writing to your mortgage servicer's Loss Mitigation Department to explain your situation. Make sure that you have a copy of your mortgage loan documents in hand prior to contacting your servicer.


Should I continue to live in my home?
Yes, you are in a far better position to save your home by continuing to live in it. If you abandon your property, you may not qualify for assistance.


What should I do if I get a foreclosure notice?

Call your servicer immediately to discuss alternatives to foreclosure.


Should I be aware of anything else?

Beware of scams. Solutions that sound too simple or too good to be true usually are. Unfortunately, there are people who may try to take advantage of your financial difficulty. Once your loan is in the foreclosure process, you may be contacted by those who will tell you that they can "help" you keep your house. Be cautious. Most of the time, these self-proclaimed specialists charge a hefty fee for services that are worthless or that you can perform for yourself just by calling your servicer's Loss Mitigation Department or by calling a HUD approved housing counseling agency. To learn more about avoiding being scammed, call the Florida Attorney General's office at (850) 414-3300, or go to their Web site at http://myfloridalegal.com/. The best way to avoid scams is to work directly with your mortgage company and a HUD approved housing counselor.


Are all offers to "help" scams?

Because of the public nature of foreclosures, anyone can access foreclosure listings on a daily basis. These listings include the owner's name and address and could include other sensitive information. Armed with this data, individuals pitch their scam to take advantage of a desperate owner. Please see our 'Foreclosure Scams' section.


How long does a foreclosure take?

If a bank or mortgage company has started foreclosure against you, you will be served court papers by the sheriff or a process server. As soon as you receive court papers, read them and talk with an attorney to get advice, you must respond to these papers within 20 days.

You may receive an 'Order to Show Cause'. This document will let you know the date, time and location of the hearing where a Judge will decide whether or not to foreclose on your house. You can go to the hearing and tell the judge why there should be no foreclosure. If the judge decides that the house should be foreclosed, he/she will set a day and time for the sale. That day will be between 20 - 35 days after the hearing.

If you do not file an answer or if you do not show up at the "Show Cause" hearing, a default can be entered against you. This is like automatically losing your case. The document you could receive is the actual notice to leave your house.


Can I retain my house after it goes to trustee sale?

Yes, you may retain ownership of your home (and continue to live in it) up until the time that the confirmation of sale has been filed with the court.


When do I actually have to leave the house?

You should be prepared to vacate the property once the foreclosure sale has been confirmed, which usually takes place 30 days to 60 days after the trustee sale. If you choose not to vacate the property, an eviction notice will be placed on your door informing you of the date you will be evicted by the Sheriff. Your personal belongings will be placed outside your home and eventually removed. If you have not made alternative living arrangements, a HUD-approved housing counseling agency can refer you to community services in your area.


Should I consider refinancing?

Being able to refinance your loan depends on several factors. If you are already behind on your mortgage, your credit rating will be adversely affected. This could prevent you from obtaining a new mortgage at a reasonable interest rate. In addition, you may not be able to afford the fees and points that most lenders charge, especially if you have little or no equity in your home. If you do want to refinance, shop around for the best rate and terms possible and be alert for predatory lending practices. Refinance opportunities also exist with FHA Secure through the federal government. Information on FHASecure can be found by visiting HelpForHomeOwners.org.


Where can I file a complaint if I believe I have been a victim of predatory lending?

Complaints regarding predatory lending can be filed with the Florida Attorney General's office by calling (850) 414-330 or, by visiting their website at http://myfloridalegal.com/.


Would my mortgage company rather foreclose on my home than keep me in it?

On average, with each foreclosure, the mortgage company loses around $50,000. These companies are in the business of providing and servicing mortgages and would prefer not to own or sell homes. If possible, they would prefer to keep you in your home.


Is foreclosure uncommon?

Foreclosure is a challenge faced every year by thousands from all walks of life. You are not alone, but you need to take action to save your dream.


What are the main points I should remember?

  • Act now and don't ignore the problem
  • Contact your mortgage servicer as soon as you realize that you have a problem 
  • Open and respond to all mail from your servicer 
  • Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor 
  • Stay in your home to make sure you qualify for assistance 
  • Understand Florida's foreclosure process 
  • Understand foreclosure prevention options and alternatives 
  • Beware of scams 
  • Do not sign any document that you don't understand