Frequently Asked Questions About Foreclosure – Nassau & Suffolk Counties, Long Island
Q: What Happens When I Start to Miss My Mortgage Payments?
If you are no more than one or two months in arrears every once in a while, chances are that nothing serious will happen. However, if the arrears persist or if they increase to three months of arrears, or more, your lender may not accept your payments unless you pay the full amount of arrears including late fees. You will first get late notice(s), followed by letters from your lender advising you of potential options such as a modification, short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. To the extent that you have regular income you should consider negotiations with your lender. Our office can maximize your chance of succeeding with such negotiations by representing you, as your attorneys, in such negotiations. Click here for information about modification negotiations. If you are unable to catch up with mortgage payments or to enter into a negotiated agreement with the lender, you will receive after several months a notice of default, which advises you that due to your arrears you are now in default but that you can still cure such default by paying the arrears and late fees.
Q: What Happens if I Continue to Miss Mortgage Payments for a Considerable Period of Time?
If you continue to miss mortgage payments and cannot obtain a mortgage modification or other negotiated settlement with your lender, you will eventually be sent by your lender a letter giving you a 90 day notice of foreclosure. This letter indicates to you the amount in arrears and gives you another opportunity to resolve the situation. While a foreclosure proceeding often does not start within 90 days, it may start several months later. The amount of time the lender will wait before it actually starts foreclosure proceedings can vary greatly and other than the above notices the lender will not actually tell you the precise time it will start the proceedings.
Q: How Does the Foreclosure Actually Start?
The foreclosure proceeding actually starts when the lender’s attorneys file a notice of pendency and a summons and complaint with the county clerk’s office. At such time an index number for the proceeding is purchased. The lender’s attorneys then have a process serving company serve the summons and complaint on the borrowers. At attempt is made to serve the borrowers personally, but if personal service is not possible the lenders are allowed to serve by substitute service (service on another person in the household), “nail and mail” service (leaving the documents attached to the defendant’s door and thereafter mailing them), and/or mail service. The reason lenders prefer personal or substitute service is that it is much easier to prove valid service, since defendants frequently deny that they received service.
Q: How Does the Foreclosure Process Work and How Long Does it Take?
The foreclosure proceeding is the legal means that your lender can use to litigate to be able to eventually sell your house at a foreclosure sale auction. If your property is worth less than the total amount you owe on your mortgage loan, a deficiency judgment could be pursued by the lender after the foreclosure proceeding. If that happens, the lender potentially can demand additional moneys after foreclosing on the house. Because foreclosure could involve the loss of the defendant’s home, the defendant usually tries to prevent and then prolong the foreclosure. The defendant usually tries to maximize their chances to obtain a modification and/or to save money for when they may eventually need to leave their house. The foreclosure proceeding can take at least one year to complete and often can take much longer, often up to 3 years or longer, especially when the borrower defends the foreclosure. For information about foreclosure defense, click here. Often the foreclosure proceeding can be prolonged if the defendant is represented by attorneys, like the Law Office of Ronald D. Weiss, P.C., which is able to represent them in possible foreclosure solutions, including litigation, modification and/or bankruptcy.
Q: What Should I Do?
a) Stay in your house and do not panic – You better qualify for a modification or assistance if you stay in your house and it remains your primary residence. Moving out of the house often creates more expenses for you at a time when your finances are suffering. Moving out also increases the chances that the lender assumes that the house is abandoned and boards it up, or that renters, vagrants and/or the elements do damage to the house. If your goal is to save the house, your best option is to stay and maintain the house.
b) Obtain legal advice from an attorney and factual information from your lender – Talk to a local attorney concentrating in helping people in foreclosure to obtain legal information about your options. The Law Office of Ronald D. Weiss, P.C. is available for free consultations regarding potential foreclosure solutions, including modification and foreclosure defense The advantage of using local attorneys, like our office to negotiate on your behalf is that you can meet with us personally and stay close to the persons working on your matter so that you could potentially help them complete their tasks. Another source for information is your lender and its representatives, who sometimes may clarify what they need to reach a resolution as to the mortgage arrears and to modify your loan.
c) Beware of scams – There are many out of state companies alleging expertise and incredible results with modification and foreclosure resolution. Any non-local entities should be avoided since they often charge high fees for sub-standard services, after promising the homeowner amazing results. They are unable to legally represent you in court like our firm can and offer little in terms of a range of serves, other than loan modification. A local law firm, like ours, which gives a realistic assessment of your chances of modification, is a much better choice since our files are always available for review with the client and our efforts, progress and methods should be transparent, so that you know what we are doing and attempting and not kept in the dark.
d) Maximize your chances for a negotiated solution – By negotiating through an office, like ours, you would maximize your chances for a modification or other negotiated resolution, based on our experience, expertise and leverage as attorneys.
e) Defend the foreclosure – In order to avoid waiving your legal defenses in a foreclosure it is essential to answer the foreclosure complaint within 20-30 days within being served. However, simply answering the complaint is only part of the foreclosure defense process. Besides answering our office engages in full litigation over the foreclosure, including: discovery, foreclosure conference appearances, response to the motion for summary judgment and other matters essential to defend our clients well in the foreclosure action. Our papers are customized for each case, so that they focus on the particular defensive strengths of each situation.
Please call us at (631) 271-3737, or e-mail us at [email protected] for a free consultation to further inquire about your legal options in a foreclosure or potential foreclosure situation.