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Foreclosure Defense Lawyers May Help You Keep Your House

UPDATED: October 15, 2013

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If you fall behind on your mortgage payments, the bank or financial institution can foreclose on your property. Foreclosure is the initiation of a proceeding by the bank or financial institution to recover the property secured by their mortgage. Once the property has been recovered, the bank has the legal right to sell the home at auction. If you have not vacated the premises by the time the home has been sold, the bank also has the legal right to begin eviction proceedings. If you still refuse to vacate after the eviction has been awarded, a sheriff and “eviction crew” will remove you and your belongings from the home.

Understanding the Foreclosure Process

The foreclosure process begins with the service of a summons and complaint against the homeowner. Upon receiving the summons and complaint, the homeowner should retain legal counsel immediately. Remember, financial institutions have attorneys on their side who will go to great lengths to help them recover the home. It is important that you hire an attorney to fight for your home, or at the very least, inform you of your rights and legal options. Again, if you have been served with a summons and complaint, please see an attorney immediately.

Upon being served with the summons and complaint, you have 20-30 days to submit a written answer and/or make a motion to dismiss the proceeding. There are statutory and case law defenses to foreclosure proceedings. The homeowner can also bring a counterclaim and counter sue the financial institution, if the institution has acted inappropriately or broken any laws.

Homeowners Protection In New York

On September 1, 2008, the State of New York passed laws helpful to homeowners facing foreclosure lawsuits. These new statues may buy time for some homeowners. First, the new statutes give borrowers (with home loans) 90 days to either settle the debt or make other living arrangements before legal action can be taken against them. Next, the statutes outline crimes of fraud with regard to actions taken by creditors concerning residential mortgages. In addition, the laws establish the standards and limitations related to residential mortgage matters.

If you retain an attorney to defend a foreclosure lawsuit, the case may be tied up in court for years. This puts pressure on the financial institutions to reconsider the lawsuit and discuss reasonable loan modifications or forbearance agreements.

If you receive a foreclosure notice, remain calm and hire an experienced foreclosure defense attorney right away. Should you fail to take the appropriate legal action in a timely manner after receiving a summons and complaint, do not panic. Applications can be made to the court to extend your time to answer. As long as your home has not been sold, there are legal remedies available to you.

Loan Modifications

A home loan modification is a renegotiation of your mortgage. Banks have programs available to homeowners seeking modifications. Unfortunately, large majorities of homeowners are rejected for modification programs. Homeowners who are approved for loan modifications often receive plans that last only three months. A three-month loan modification might not provide enough recovery time for many homeowners that may be experiencing financial hardships.

Homeowners that have fallen on hard times require realistic modifications to their mortgages. They need a sufficient amount of time to deal with downturns in their financial circumstances. Timely action by a foreclosure defense attorney can help homeowners accomplish these goals.

Forbearance Agreements

Forbearance agreements give homeowners temporary relief. If you feel that your financial woes are temporary, and you anticipate they will be resolved in the near future, an agreement can be entered into giving you temporary relief from making your mortgage payments. When your financial situation improves, you will have the opportunity to catch up on your loan payments.

The terms of a forbearance agreement and forbearance period can be negotiated with the lending institution. In some cases, financial institutions are even willing to waive a portion of the unpaid debt, interest, and penalties.

About the Author

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has been practicing law for more than 33 years in the New York metropolitan area. He is the former president of the Commercial Lawyers Conference of New York. This is a Regional Bar Association that represented creditors. For the last 17 years, his law office has represented debtors with regard to all aspects of debtor’s rights, foreclosure defense, and bankruptcy. Mr. Schlissel can be reached at 1-(888) 329-7708.

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