Currently, there are more than 18,500 properties in Orlando in some stage of foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac. This equates to about 1 in every 500 homes just in Orlando alone, not including the surrounding metropolitan area. While many parts of the country seem to be recovering from the real estate crisis, Florida still has a ways to go. If you are a homeowner struggling to make your mortgage payments due to unemployment, underemployment or other financial issues, it is important for you to know you are not alone and there are resources available to help you. If you are facing foreclosure, here are three action items you can take today to help yourself:
- Be proactive. This is not one of those problems you can ignore in hopes that it will resolve itself. If the lender mails information to you, open it and read it. Do not let mail pile up or, worse, throw it in the trash. If you do not understand what you are reading (make sure you read the front and back of all documents, including the fine print), ask someone to help you. If you receive legal documents from the lender, call our office or seek the help of another attorney experienced in foreclosure defense, loan modification and Chapters 7 and 13 bankruptcy to help you. While these remedies may not apply to you, you’ll want to consult an attorney who understands and can explain to you all your options, and guide you in determining the best solution for you in the long term.
- Do your own research—but be careful! The government has programs available to help homeowners in financial distress. One of these programs is the Making Homes Affordable program. You may have heard if referred to as the HAMP program. We’ve provided the link for you here so you can check it out for yourself. It may or may not apply to you, depending on several factors such as your lender and the date of the origination of your loan. There may be other programs available as well. Internet research can be a tremendous resource; however, a word of caution: there also are many scam artists out there who prey on people who are desperate for answers to their problems and financial help. Be very cautious! You do not need to pay someone else to help you talk to your bank! You can talk to your bank directly! The ONLY person you should pay to talk to your bank on your behalf is a LAWYER. A lawyer is the only person who is bound by ethical rules and the rules of confidentiality. To find out about current foreclosure scams or to report a suspected foreclosure scam, contact the Florida Office of the Attorney General.
- Consider hiring an attorney to help you. Lenders have their own unique language and systems. As with any institution, it can be very hard to navigate. An attorney experienced in working with lenders and financial institutions, one who understands the language, who has experience in modifying loans, in foreclosure defense litigation and court procedure, and who is not easily intimidated by “Big Banks” can help you. You may think: “I don’t have enough money to pay my mortgage, how can I afford an attorney?” Sultana Law has worked with numerous clients to find solutions so they can get the legal help they need. Contact us today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation to discuss you particular situation so we can determine how we can help you.
Bonus Tip: Pay attention to dates. Read all the paperwork the lender sends to you, particularly any paperwork involving the court. Highlight all dates and take note of what is due by these dates. Are you required to appear in court? Are you required to file an answer by a certain date? Many times, if you fail to heed certain dates, you will lose your opportunity—and this could mean the difference been keeping and losing your house!