Archive for June 8th, 2011

When to Retain a Foreclosure Defense Attorney

I was just perusing the comments to these blogs and I saw a good question, one worthy of its own blog:

“At what point do I need to retain an attorney; I am currently two months behind [on my mortgage payments]“ 

Here’s my take.

No matter what, I urge everyone to retain a foreclosure defense attorney within the first 20 days after being served with process, i.e. after a process server or sheriff serves you with a Summons and Complaint.  It is far, far better (and, often, much less expensive) to retain counsel from the outset than to wait until the last possible minute to retain a lawyer.  Many homeowners don’t realize it, but by trying to defend the case yourself (or not at all) you may waive viable defenses, putting your lawyer in the position of not being able to assert defenses that otherwise would have been meritorious by not filing them soon enough.  Don’t make this mistake; make sure you have a lawyer on board as soon as you’ve been sued. 

This begs the question of whether a homeowner should retain counsel prior to being sued?  Honestly, that’s not absolutely necessary, but there’s certainly an argument for it.  For instance, many homeowners enjoy the piece of mind of knowing that an attorney is on board, ready to defend the case, once the foreclosure suit arrives.  Also, if you’ve retained an attorney, it is easier to deal with those harassing phone calls that inevitably come when you’re behind on your mortgage – all you need to do is say: “Stopa Law Firm is my attorney on this matter.  Don’t call me any more.”  Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, those phone calls should cease from that point forward, and if they don’t, you have additional defenses to foreclosure as well as possible counterclaims. 

So when is the best time to hire a foreclosure defense attorney?  As soon as you go into default, or, at worst, right after you’ve been sued. 

That said, if your case is still ongoing and you haven’t retained a lawyer, don’t give up.  During a free consultation, Stopa Law Firm can quickly and easily evaluate whether it’s still possible to defend your foreclosure case, even if it’s been pending for a long time.  Time and time again, we find that it is.  Just don’t wait too long – it’s a totally different dynamic after the court signs a Final Judgment of Foreclosure.

Mark Stopa

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