If you are faced with foreclosure, please know that you are not alone. There is no shame and no blame when it comes to foreclosure. This epidemic does not discriminate and has touched the lives of almost everyone in our community in some way, shape or form. Chances are that if you purchased or re-financed a property between mid 2004 and 2007, the property you purchased or re-financed has decreased in value as much as 30-40% and maybe even more. During that same time frame, sub prime lending was at its height and we now know that property values were often inflated by improper appraisals.
Many loan originators were issuing loan products which were predatory in nature and included variable/adjustable rate and negative amortization features. Often times loans were given without any regard to the Borrower’s ability to pay. This was because the loans were being made to be sold into the secondary market and thus the party making the loan generally did not bear the risk of default. They were paid handsomely to originate and sell the loan. Often times the loan fees due to the originator were higher if the borrower was steered into a “no doc” or “no income verification” loan, despite the fact that the Borrower could have qualified for a standard 30 year fixed loan with terms much more favorable to the Borrower, but lower incentive fees to the originator. When you combine the effects of predatory lending with local property value decreases, record high unemployment, interest rate increases and the lack of specific laws governing short sale and loan modification procedures, the result is that many property owners are faced with foreclosure lawsuits being filed against them.
If you are facing foreclosure, it is important that you immediately seek competent legal representation to protect your interests. A competent foreclosure defense attorney can guide you through the entire foreclosure process and assist you in reaching a foreclosure alternative which is in your best interest. An experienced foreclosure defense attorney will review your foreclosure Complaint to determine if the foreclosure Plaintiff has properly plead its case, included a proper verification and properly plead its standing and capacity to file the action against you. In addition, an attorney can assist you in raising appropriate affirmative defenses or counterclaims to your foreclosure and ensure that the Plaintiff is following all state and local foreclosure requirements, including compliance with local foreclosure administrative rules and the requirements of the RMFM Program.
The local media has shed light on the significant issues involved in the way that “foreclosure mills” have been processing their foreclosures. It has been revealed that some affidavits submitted in foreclosure matters have not been properly verified and that the affiant lacked personal knowledge of the matters attested to. In other cases, attorneys have discovered that fraudulent documents have been fabricated and filed with the court in order to secure a foreclosure. While not all foreclosure cases involve these issues, it is important for a person in foreclosure to ensure that all of the evidence presented against them is proper and meets the basic evidentiary requirements of admissibility. Foreclosure case law is developing weekly and it is in your best interest to retain a foreclosure defense attorney who is knowledgeable in the particular area of foreclosure defense and current on developing case law and trends, both in Florida and nationwide.
Florida is a judicial foreclosure state, meaning that all foreclosures of real property must go through the Court system. As such, just like any other civil litigation proceeding, the rules of evidence and procedure apply equally to foreclosure matters. Nevertheless, it is up to the homeowner to assert relevant defenses and challenge improper evidence. If this is not done properly in the foreclosure proceeding, those defenses and objections can be forever waived. An effective foreclosure defense can raise proper legal issues which can assist the client in leveraging a settlement which is in their best interest.
The Syprett Meshad law firm has effectively handled hundreds of foreclosure cases and is actively involved in continuing education in the area of foreclosure defense. If you are in foreclosure or reasonably expect to be in a residential or commercial foreclosure, please consult an experienced foreclosure defense attorney so that you know all of your foreclosure options to allow you to formulate the best foreclosure defense strategy for your unique situation.
For more general information on the foreclosure process in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit and foreclosure prevention alternatives click here to read Nancy Cason’s informational material entitled “Foreclosure 101: The Basics of the Foreclosure Process in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit.”