Archive for July 15th, 2010

Applying for a loan modification does NOT mean you can ignore your lawsuit!

As a foreclosure defense attorney for hundreds of homeowners throughout Florida, we at Stopa Law Firm see fraud committed by banks in foreclosure lawsuits on a daily basis.  Let me say that again –

Every day, throughout Florida, banks commit fraud against unsuspecting homeowners

I know that’s hard for some people to believe.  Candidly, before I started handling these cases, it would have been hard for me to believe, too.  In a way, I feel like Jose Canseco, when he first made those steroid allegations (against prominent baseball players) – he knew what he was saying was true, but it took a while for everyone to believe him.  So if you’re a skeptic, I’m going to do everything I can to show you how things work on the front lines of foreclosure defense in Florida.  

Anyway, one of the frauds that I see banks commit on a daily basis is when they tell homeowners – “Don’t worry about that foreclosure suit we just filed; we are evaluating your loan modification.” 

If you’ve been sued for foreclosure, and the bank is telling you not to worry about the lawsuit, DON’T BELIEVE IT.  It’s not true.  At worst, it’s a lie, and at best, it’s a low-level employee of the bank who is woefully uninformed.  Either way, it’s not true.  If you’ve been sued for foreclosure, and were served with a Summons and Complaint, you have 20 days after service in which to file a written response to the Complaint.  Nothing the bank tells you on the phone changes that.  The fact that you’re in negotiations with the bank for a loan modification doesn’t change that, either.  If you’ve been sued, you must respond to the lawsuit or you risk losing your home to foreclosure (long before any decision about a loan modification). 

Time and time again, I’ve seen homeowners fall into this trap.  If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it 100 times.  Homeowners don’t respond to the lawsuit, thinking a loan modification is coming, but then they lose the lawsuit, and get foreclosed, before any decision about a modification is ever made … then they’re left wondering “what happened?”  What’s particularly egregious about these situations is that banks aren’t giving modifications anyway, especially when they believe they can foreclose easily – so homeowners are choosing not to respond to a lawsuit because they’re waiting for something that’s never going to happen.  It’s like getting fired from a job and choosing not to look for a new job because you’re planning on winning the lottery – or banking on Santa Claus bringing you a bag of cash.  Loan modifications aren’t happening – don’t ignore your lawsuit because you’re waiting for one.  If your bank tells you otherwise, don’t believe it.  Don’t be the next victim of the bank’s fraud.  Remember:

Your bank is suing you; you can’t trust them. 

You’d think, when banks actively mislead homeowners like this, that the homeowner would get to defend the foreclosure suit.  But the law isn’t that simple.  If the bank has already won the case, and the homeowner chose not to defend – even if it’s because the homeowner believed he/she did not need to, or even if the bank lied – the homeowner has to file a motion to vacate the final judgment, then convince the judge to grant it.   From a lawyer’s perspective, I assure you – this is a far, far worse situation to be in than to be defending a foreclosure lawsuit from the outset.  Sure, you could win that motion, and get to defend the case, but instead of starting out on a level playing field, you’re coming into the game in the fourth quarter and your team is losing by two touchdowns.  And it will probably cost you more in fees than it would have had you retained counsel from the beginning.  Don’t fall into this trap –

fight your foreclosure case from the start! 

What’s the moral here?  I’d say there are two – protect your rights, and don’t believe what the banks are telling you, especially if they’ve sued you.

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