At What Point Should I Hire A Foreclosure Defense Attorney?
As soon as you are served with a summons and complaint, you should find a qualified foreclosure defense attorney. You only have 20 to 30 days, depending on how you were served, to file a legal document known as an “Answer.” Most of the time, we file an Answer with Counterclaims. I go through the closing documents and look for any predatory lending practices or violations by the bank. In the Answer and Counterclaims, we will sue the bank back on behalf of the client.
If you try to handle it on your own and you don’t file an Answer, the bank will make a motion against you for a default judgment, which means you lose without a fight. Many people think at this point that they can just go down to the court and talk to the judge. In my experience, the judge will still grant the motion against you and once that happens, the bank is on the fast track to take your house away. I have come in at virtually every stage of a foreclosure action in New York. There have been times where I’ve gotten cases the day before the auction was scheduled and I was able to stop the auction right before it happened. I have even had cases dismissed completely after the property was sold at auction, sometimes to the bank and sometimes to a bona fide third-party purchaser. Recently, I had a third party come down to the court to try to fight it and we were able to keep the homeowner’s house, even though it was purchased at auction by a third party.
Do Most People Try To Resolve A Foreclosure In A Timely Manner?
No. There are people who just ignore it, which is the worst thing to do. There are those who hire lawyers, which is the best position to be in. Those who try to do it themselves do more harm than good and don’t realize that they’re doing it. They don’t know they’re at an unfair advantage because they’re not a lawyer. The bank is represented by a lawyer and since the market tanked so many years ago, sympathy for homeowners is waning. When a bank makes a motion, homeowners who are representing themselves are at a tremendous disadvantage.
There was a point in time where the courts felt that banks were taking advantage of homeowners and certain laws and procedures were put into effect in courts to protect them. Over the course of the last 12 years, the tide has turned and homeowners are viewed by many as scammers who got money from a bank and didn’t pay their mortgage. There is at least one judge I appear in front of regularly who feels that it is the only fact that matters. Did you get the money? Did you pay back your mortgage? That is all he needs to hear. You cannot win unless you know the legal arguments to make. When representing yourself, you may do more harm than good.
Are You Being Threatened with Foreclosure?
Have you fallen behind on your mortgage? Is your bank or mortgage lender threatening you with foreclosure? You might think that once the foreclosure process has started, then there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. That is simply not true. The foreclosure defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert E. Brown, P.C. know the law and can create strategies and identify solutions to delay and stop foreclosure proceedings so you can keep your home.
When Should I Hire a Foreclosure Defense Attorney in New York?
Before actually starting a foreclosure lawsuit against you, lenders must send you a warning notice called a pre-foreclosure notification. You should hire a foreclosure defense attorney as soon as possible after receiving that letter.
Soon after receiving the pre-foreclosure notification letter, you’ll be served with a summons and complaint. You’ll only have 20 to 30 days, depending on how you were served, to file a legal document known as an “Answer.” You’ll need an attorney to draft an Answer that responds to each and every allegation in the complaint. The Verified Answer to the Summons and Complaint in foreclosure must then be acknowledged before a Notary Public and served on opposing counsel and the court.
Most of the time, your attorney will file an Answer with Counterclaims. They’ll go through the closing documents and look for any predatory lending practices or violations by the bank. In the Answer and Counterclaims, your lawyer may countersue the bank or mortgage lender.
Can I Fight a Foreclosure on My Own?
Ignoring a summons and complaint in foreclosure or trying to fight it on your own are the two biggest mistakes you can make. There are just too many things that can go wrong if you don’t know the law. If you fail to file an Answer by the deadline, the bank will make a motion against you for a default judgment. That means, you automatically lose the case without a fight.
Some clients believe that at this point, they can go to the court and explain their case to the judge. This never works in the homeowner’s favor. The judge will still grant the motion against you and once that happens, the bank will be on the fast track to take your home from you.
There was a point in time where the general feeling by the courts was that the banks were taking advantage of homeowners. Certain laws and procedures were put into effect in courts to protect them. Over the last 10 or 15 years, the tide has turned and homeowners are not viewed as the victim in all cases. Sometimes they are viewed as scammers who are trying to get out of paying their mortgage.
Most judges these days only care about the answers to two very specific questions: Did the bank loan you money? Did you make your mortgage payments? Unless you have a lawyer who can present a strong defense and show how the bank was acting in a predatory way, you simply have no chance of winning.
At the end of the day, those who try to fight foreclosure themselves wind up doing more harm than good without even realizing it. They don’t realize they’re at an unfair advantage because they don’t know the ins and outs of the legal system like a lawyer does. The bank is represented by a lawyer and since the market tanked so many years ago, sympathy for homeowners is waning. Homeowners who are representing themselves are at a tremendous disadvantage.
Can I Stay in My Home After Being Served with a Summons and Complaint in Foreclosure?
You can stay in your home after being served with a summons and complaint in foreclosure. Typically, you can stay in your home until the courts make a final decision. The good news for you is that the legal system does not move very quickly.
That’s the other big advantage of hiring a foreclosure defense attorney in New York. A skilled attorney knows how to use the slowness of the legal system to your advantage. They can file and respond to motions in a way that makes the proceedings take as long as possible.
Currently in the New York Metropolitan area, there’s a backlog of cases and a foreclosure suit can easily take up to two years from start to finish. Again, it’s to your advantage to hire an attorney as soon as possible in the foreclosure process. The sooner an attorney is involved, the longer the proceedings will take, the better your chances of staying in your home.
When the case starts to drag out, then banks start to become more willing to work out a settlement. They can offer you alternative payment arrangements, partial debt forgiveness, or a lower interest rate to make the mortgage more affordable for you. These are all the details your attorney can work out for you.
What Does It Mean to Countersue the Bank for Financial Restitution?
In addition to raising multiple defenses in an answer to a foreclosure lawsuit, a foreclosure defense attorney can also help you countersue the bank.
Common claims against the bank include:
- Violation of “truth in lending” laws
- Predatory lending practices
- Fraud and/or misrepresentation
Bringing a countersuit against the bank as a part of the foreclosure defense is another way to slow down the proceedings, giving you more time to live in your home. In addition, it’s a way to strike back at the bank and put them on the defensive.
Will Claiming Bankruptcy Stop a Foreclosure Proceeding?
The short answer is yes. When you file for protection in bankruptcy, all of your creditors, including your mortgage lender are immediately prohibited from calling you, sending collection notices by mail, or taking any type of legal action to collect a debt.
During the period of the bankruptcy, you can stay in your home. An experienced foreclosure defense attorney can guide you through Chapter 13 and/or Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings, depending on which is most appropriate for you.
Is it Ever Too Late to Hire a Foreclosure Defense Attorney in New York?
The worst thing you can do is ignore a summons and complaint in foreclosure. So while you always want to hire an attorney as soon as possible, it’s certainly never too late to late to hire a foreclosure defense attorney in New York.
The foreclosure defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert E. Brown, P.C. have come in at virtually every stage of a foreclosure action in New York. There have been times where they were hired the day before a property was supposed to be sold at auction and they were able to stop the proceedings.
There have been other times where they were able to get a case dismissed completely, even after the home was already sold either back to the bank or to a third-party buyer. Recently, a third-party buyer came down to the court to try and fight the dismissal of the foreclosure case. But, the foreclosure defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert E. Brown, P.C. were able to keep the original homeowner in their house, despite it being bought at auction by a third party.
How Do I Hire a Foreclosure Defense Attorney in New York?
The foreclosure defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert E. Brown, P.C. can identify and implement several alternatives for dealing with foreclosure proceedings. It’s critical, though, that you contact our office as soon as you start to fall behind in your mortgage so we can plan a solid defense and prevent the possibility of a foreclosure.
For more information on hiring a foreclosure defense attorney in New York, call 212-766-9779 or 718-979-9779 today. Ask for a free consultation and review of your case. We’re here to give you the legal advice and information you need.
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