March 3, 2020

A guide to the Florida foreclosure process

florida foreclosure

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Florida is a judicial foreclosure state, with one of the longest foreclosure timelines in the country. This means that if you are facing foreclosure in Florida, you have plenty of time to come up with an alternative such as a loan modification or short sale, or even just to save some money while the foreclosure process lingers on. Here is a quick guide to understanding the steps of the Florida foreclosure process:

Florida Foreclosure Process

Pre-foreclosure

Federal law generally requires lenders to wait until you're more than 120 days delinquent on payments before officially starting a foreclosure. This gives you 4 months to bring the loan current, or work with your lender to come up with an alternative solution like a loan modification, forbearance or a short sale. 

Florida Foreclosure Process Begins

If no resolution has been reached within the 120 days, the foreclosing bank may file a lawsuit (complaint) and serve it to you. You’ll get 20 days to respond by filing a response with the court. If you don’t respond to the lawsuit, the lender can ask the court for a default judgment. 

Default Judgment

If you don't file an answer, the bank will ask the court for a default judgment. If the court grants the default judgment, this means you automatically lose the case and the bank gets everything it’s asking for, including perhaps a deficiency judgment. The lender can then move forward with selling the home in a foreclosure sale.

Summary Judgment

If you file an answer, then the lender can't get a default judgment. Instead, it may file a motion for summary judgment. Unless you have some legitimate defense or counterclaim, the lender will likely win the motion for summary judgment and the court will render a final judgment of foreclosure. 

If the judge denies the lender’s motion for summary judgment, the case will proceed to trial. If you lose at trial, the court will enter a final judgment of foreclosure against you. The lender can then move forward with selling the home in a foreclosure sale. 

Florida Foreclosure Mediation

You may also request the mediation for your case. Mediation programs bring the borrower and foreclosing bank to the table with the goal of working out a way to resolve the matter. While a particular outcome isn’t guaranteed if you decide to participate in mediation, you might be able to get a foreclosure avoidance option, like a modification or a short sale, or at least buy yourself some more time.

Setting a Foreclosure Sale Date

Once a lender gets a judgment of foreclosure, the court schedules a sale of the property not less than 20 days, but no more than 35 days, after the judgment (unless the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney consents to additional time). At the foreclosure sale, the property will be sold to the highest bidder, which is often the foreclosing lender. If the lender is the highest bidder, the property becomes REO (lender owned, foreclosed home).

Deficiency Judgment

In Florida, a lender may obtain a deficiency judgment as part of the foreclosure action or in a separate action within one year, starting on the day after the court clerk issues a certificate of title to the buyer who purchased the home at the foreclosure sale. The court has flexibility regarding the amount of the deficiency, which can't exceed the difference between the judgment amount and the fair market value in the case of an owner-occupied residential property.

FACING FLORIDA FORECLOSURE?

Facing foreclosure can be terrifying, but you have options, and you have time! Confused?We can help!

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Minna Reid

Minna Reid is a Broker Associate at Killebrew & Company Realty Inc, serving Jacksonville, Florida.

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