When homeowners are in the midst of a financial crisis and have begun falling behind on their payments, many of them feel like crawling into a hole and hiding from their creditors. They ignore the multiple phone calls every day and they will set aside mail from their mortgage company, thinking the letters to hold nothing but threatening information and demanding money the homeowners do not currently have. Even after the lender hires attorneys to sue the family, they will often avoid having any correspondence with the bank or its legal counsel. By ignoring such letters, homeowners will remain in the dark about where their property is in the foreclosure process, and may miss an important opportunity to stop foreclosure before the situation progresses further.
Most often, when a lender is suing to sell a property through the foreclosure process to have their defaulted loan paid back, a formal hearing must be held at the county courthouse. The lender’s attorneys and the court system itself will typically send the homeowners information regarding what this hearing is for and when it will be held. Unfortunately, this hearing will be held in the early stages of the foreclosure process, and the likelihood is small that the homeowners have recovered from their financial hardship so quickly. Thus, the letter with the vital information may be thrown away or set aside until it is opened long after the hearing has been held, or the foreclosure victims will simply not attend the hearing, believing that nothing good will come of it and that they will be pushed into foreclosure right then and there. They may also fear being exposed as and reprimanded for missing numerous payments on their home.
However, the only way that the homeowners will automatically lose the lawsuit is if they do not show up at all for the hearing. The lender is awarded a default judgment against the homeowners, and the foreclosure process will proceed with no input by the actual owners of the property. They are given a chance to defend their position, or try and work out an arrangement with the lender and its attorneys, but, by ignoring the hearing completely, they are presumed to have given up these basic rights and opportunities, and the court enters judgment against them. At this point, the foreclosure process will begin to accelerate, with the attorneys attempting to set up the sheriff sale date as quickly as the law allows, and the bank will begin adding more fees, interest, and charges to the loan, making it more difficult by the day for homeowners to figure out a solution to avoid the foreclosure.
Especially in cases where the foreclosure victims suspect some sort of foul play or incompetence on the part of the mortgage company, it is extremely important not to miss this initial foreclosure court date. It is not uncommon for banks to misplace payments, report the mortgage as late, and refuse to accept any other payments, which leads the homeowners to foreclosure. The homeowners may futilely try to prove they made the payment, and have convincing evidence, such as canceled checks or online payment confirmation. But, if they do not provide such evidence to a court at the foreclosure hearing, a judgment will be entered against them regardless. As the size of the lender and the complexity of their mortgage operations increase, the possibility of homeowners facing foreclosure due to deception or incompetence rises.
Whenever homeowners find themselves facing a financial crisis and are unable to pay their mortgage, they should seek legal advice from a competent attorney. This advice should include the possibility of filing bankruptcy to stop foreclosure, although this may be held as a last ditch effort, rather than the immediate step taken. It is, though, more than a bit ironic that homeowners facing a loss of income or sudden extra expenses need the services of an attorney at exactly the moment when they are least able to afford legal advice. However, homeowners being sued for foreclosure are at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with the mortgage company and their seasoned local attorneys, who have worked with the court system for years and know exactly how the foreclosure process in that state works. Many foreclosure victims find it difficult, if not impossible, to get any information from the bank’s attorneys, which makes it even more important for them to have a solid understanding of how the process will work and how it can be stopped.
It is never a good idea for homeowners to avoid any of the correspondence from their lender or the attorneys handling the foreclosure. Although most of the mail will be strictly collections efforts, the foreclosure victims should make every effort possible to find out when is their day in court. Otherwise, they have no defense against the legal process and will not even be given a chance to relate their side of the story, their reasons for missing the mortgage payment, and what they have done and can do in the future to get the loan out of default and back back on track. A sympathetic judge can attempt to broker an agreement between the mortgage company and the homeowners, and give the two parties at least one final chance to work out a solution before entering the lengthy, expensive foreclosure process. Homeowners who are too busy avoiding this opportunity, though, may find out it has slipped through their fingers before they even knew they had it.
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