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Florida State Mortgage Help-So You Can Stay in Your Home
Florida State Mortgage Help is available for those in danger of losing their home. A number of Florida mortgage aid programs are offered along with emergency housing assistance and public housing. Bankruptcy and credit counseling are offered for those in this situation along with other resources. No matter what type of help you need when it comes to your home, look no further than Florida Prevention Resources to help you get your life back on track.
Read more about the programs
As you no doubt know a foreclosure is a lawsuit filed by your lender because you haven’t paid your mortgage. In Florida foreclosures are a judicial process which is why your lender had to go to court to try to get his money back. Once your lender filed for foreclosure the sheriff or a process server gave you your copy of the Summons and Complaint forms.
Yes I know all that, what do I do now?
Lawyers – The Necessary Evil
Your first step if you are going through a foreclosure is to call a lawyer. If this is the first you hear about problems with your mortgage you probably missed a default notice on your mortgage, which might provide you with ammunition for a counterclaim. In any case you should get a lawyer to have a look at your situation. Get the best lawyer you can afford. Contact the National Association of Consumer Advocates they can recommend a foreclosure law specialist. Alternatively, if you can’t afford a lawyer they can also recommend a program or charity that provides low-cost or free legal aid. Another option is to call the Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service (1-800-342-8011) and ask for the low-cost panel. Expect personal questions on your income. If you qualify they will assign you a private lawyer which will work for a reduced fee. If you do not qualify the referral service will give you the name of a regular attorney; the first consultation will cost $25.
Talk to your lawyer and ask for advice. This is especially important if you feel your lender has not been honest with you. Foreclosure lawyers can carry out a forensic audit on your mortgage and look for any illegal methods or terms used in the mortgage agreement or in the sale process. Most audits don’t show problems, but if your lawyer finds serious mistakes a judge could declare your mortgage void. Unfortunately many companies that offer foreclosure audits are scam artists preying on vulnerable borrowers. Make sure you use a trustworthy and experienced lawyer.
Reply to the Summons and Complaint
You now must reply to the Summons and Complaint form. First, read the documents carefully. They will tell you what your lender’s complaint is, and instructs you on what to do next. Include in your answer a reply to any statements you think are not true or wrong. You should also explain why you think the court should not allow the foreclosure to continue. These are called “affirmative defenses”. For instance you could claim the lender did not follow Florida foreclosure procedure, or refused to work with you when you were trying to avoid foreclosure.
Check the amount the lender claims you owe. If you think there is a mistake or they are claiming excessive foreclosure costs, include this in your reply. Don’t forget to write your full name and contact details. You should also mention you have mailed a copy to your lender’s attorney. Make sure you do send a copy to the mortgage company’s lawyer. You should find the contact details in the Summons and Complaint documents.
Finally, make several copies of your answer and take the original to Clerk’s office. Filing your answer is free. Ask the clerk to give you a stamped copy for your own records.
Florida has one of the highest foreclosure rates of the U.S. Which is why the Obama administration is granting Florida special programs to deal with the unprecedented (well, at least since the Great Depression) rates of foreclosure. However, one of the best ways to protect yourself from foreclosure is to understand the foreclosure process in your state and know how to play the system to your advantage. This does not mean doing anything illegal, just using the law to your advantage. Let us look at the basics of Florida Foreclosure law and learn what to do to avoid losing your home to one.
Florida has a Judicial Foreclosure system. This means all foreclosures go through court; however foreclosure claims are not tried with a jury. When a lender files a foreclosure case the court assesses the claim and specifies how the foreclosure will take place. The lender is responsible for advertising the foreclosure sale on newspapers, posting notices on the property and telling the borrower foreclosure proceedings have started.
In Florida the home owner (that is the borrower) can redeem the property by covering late payments and any reasonable foreclosure costs incurred in the process right up to foreclosure sale. After the foreclosure sale the court reviews the sale to make sure there was no foul play and a reasonable price was paid. This step takes around ten days after which (if there are no problems) the sale is confirmed.
Lenders in Florida can ask the court for a deficiency judgment if the foreclosure sale does not cover the mortgage balance. Let us explain. Imagine you lose your job and can no longer pay your mortgage. Your lender forecloses your home, sells it, and gets $100,000 for it. Unfortunately for the lender (and for you) you still owed $150,000 on your mortgage. This means the borrower has just lost $50,000. The lender can file a deficiency judgment to the court to get you to pay the $50,000 difference. According to law the lender has up to a year to do this. However, there is nothing stopping the lender to passing on a deficiency judgment to a third-party. This happens when the loan has a Private Mortgage Insurance which covers the lender’s risk when you default on your mortgage. Nevertheless, the PMI insurance company can sue you for the difference (deficiency judgment).
What is the way out? Be aggressive when trying to avoid foreclosure. Don’t just lie back and wait for the “inevitable”. Although it is true not as many as hoped are receiving government financial help; there are programs you can use. Some of these programs like Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative help borrowers short sale or offer a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. Although both of these alternatives have their risks a short sale can be prepared so that the lender agrees to forgive any pending debt.
Florida Government Mortgage Down Payment Assistance Programs
Florida has been one of the hardest hit states when it comes to foreclosures. Listed in the top five states for foreclosures, cities such as Miami and Orlando have been hit considerably hard. In an effort to combat the ever increasing vacant property, the State of Florida has a few programs that can be used in conjunction with federal programs for down payment assistance.
The Florida Assist Loan program will provide potential buyers with up to $10,000 dollars in down payment assistance. This loan is a no interest, non amortizing loan given to the purchaser to help buy the property. This loan is set up as a second mortgage on the home, though no monthly payments are required. This loan is repaid only when you sell the house, pay off the first mortgage or refinance the home at a later date. Recipients must be at or below 80% of the areas median income to qualify for the program.
The Homeowner Assistance for Moderate Income (HAMI) Loan program offers people the opportunity to borrow up to $5,000 to use toward their down payment or closing costs. This loan is repaid at a standard 5% interest rate. You must qualify under certain income guidelines to receive this loan.
Because the housing crisis affecting Florida is so great, many county and city governments are also offering home buying incentives. Cities such as Orlando have devised incentives to encourage home ownership in their city. This is especially true for first time home buyers. Anyone that is interested in purchasing a home in Florida should research their local governments to see if any additional credits or programs are available.
The State of Florida has also established an Office of Community Affairs. This office was developed to help the citizens of Florida take advantage of any available program that would enhance their lives. Through this office you will be able to locate many programs that can assist you in purchasing a home.
Florida has realized that the state needs to make home buying easier for its citizens. With this in mind, they have created, or extended, many assistance programs that will help anyone purchase their own home. Foreclosures are still continuing to happen in the state at an alarming rate. This has forced home prices to record lows. Now is the perfect time for someone interested in buying a home to find a fantastic deal.