The pre-foreclosure period is when the owner/borrower falls behind in making payments and remains in possession of the property while the foreclosure proceedings begin. The average time frame to go through the Florida foreclosure process can be as little as five to six months from the beginning steps until the finalization of a foreclosure.
The Notice of Default is the first indication of the Florida foreclosure process and is triggered by being late or delinquent on the mortgage for an extended period of time. The lienholder or lender will send a written notice sent to the borrower stating the amount of money that is owed and duration of time left to make the required payment. A Notice of Default will have clear directions guiding the borrower on what must be done in order to become current on payments and prevent the foreclosure lawsuit.
After the Notice of Default timeline has passed without proper repayment, a lender will file a lis pendens (lawsuit pending) that formally starts the Florida foreclosure process. During this pending lawsuit, the homeowner remains in possession of the property and retains the right to sell or seek refinancing.
The foreclosure action is filed in the county court where the property is located and states the mortgagee’s intent to obtain the property. The borrower will be served with the Complaint for Foreclosure, and in most cases, will have 20 days to answer the complaint. In the event the borrower does not file an answer within that time period, the borrower may lose the right to defend the foreclosure lawsuit.
Redemption can occur at any point in the proceedings. Any time before the auction of the property, the borrower can take back the property if they can pay off the mortgage in full. If they pay for the mortgage in full, the Florida foreclosure proceedings are halted and the lawsuit dismissed.
In Florida, all mortgages are foreclosed in equity. Typically the foreclosure claim will be tried, if needed, in court without a jury. The court order of Florida foreclosure will specify how the foreclosure must take place, and the foreclosure terms. Whenever a legal advertisement, publication, or notice relating to a foreclosure proceeding is required to be placed in a newspaper, it is the responsibility of the lender or their representative to place such advertisement, publication, or notice.
The final step of the Florida foreclosure process is the Sheriff’s sale when the property is auctioned off to the highest bidder. Once a bidder has won the auction, the Clerk issues a Certificate of Sale and the borrower has 10 days to file an objection to the sale. If that 10-day period passes without objection, the Clerk issues a Certificate of Title, transferring title to the winning bidder. Thereafter, the lender may sue to obtain a deficiency judgment in Florida.
During the foreclosure process, the borrower may attempt mediation with the lender. Mediation refers to any instance in which a third party helps others reach an agreement surrounding the foreclosure process in Florida. Florida Foreclosure mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, which is a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties with effective results. Mediation can anticipate difficulties between parties before conflict emerges.
Mediation and negotiation with the lender can be very beneficial when dealing with loan modifications, Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure or short sale. What can foreclosure mediation do for you?
- Change current interest rates from variable to fixed
- Reduce your current mortgage payments
- Extend the current term of the loan
- Reduce your current mortgage balance
- Bring your loan current
The mediation process generally takes much less time than moving a case through the foreclosure process in Florida. An advantage of mediation is that it remains strictly confidential compared to court hearings that are public.