What to do if you’ve received a threatening letter or phone call about foreclosure

Has your bank or mortgage holder threatened to foreclose on your home by mail or phone? You have options that our firm can present to help you navigate the complicated legal system.

Foreclosure doesn’t start until you receive a Summons

You can expect to get letters and phone calls from the bank if you are late with your payments. Generally, the foreclosure can not officially start until you receive a Notice of Default from the bank, at which point they will get their legal team to prepare a Summons and a Complaint, which will be served by a sheriff. If you avoid the sheriff or cannot be served with the summons, they will publish the Summons in a local newspaper. From the time you are served with the summons, or the publication date, you only have 20 days to respond to the Complaint or waive your rights to raise defenses to protect your interest in court.

The ideal time to get in touch with our firm is when you are behind on payments and don’t see yourself being able to make them in the near future – the sooner you come to us, the more options you will have to fight the foreclosure.

The options you have – and don’t – based on timelines

An example of how we can help you if you come to us earlier rather than later is through a loan modification. If, for example, you are just getting behind on payments within the past few months, a loan modification is a realistic solution. However, if you haven’t paid anything for longer than one year, the chances of receiving approval for a loan modification are drastically reduced. A loan modification is one of the easiest solutions for many of our clients, but if you leave it for too long, it won’t be a viable option.

Do not respond to a complaint yourself – hire a lawyer

Many people think they will save money by responding to the complaint themselves. This often doesn’t work, because it is necessary to very carefully word anything that will be read by the bank and – more importantly – their legal team. If, for example, you have recently lost a job and that is why you can’t make the payments, this has to be worded in a very careful way that only a trained lawyer would know to work in your favor.

Another danger of representing yourself is that a foreclosure may not even be the end of the story. A bank will often sell to a third party the right to obtain a deficiency judgment against you after the foreclosure, and that third party will aggressively come after you for payments, even after you move out of the home – and this is perfectly legal. A trained attorney will do everything he or she can to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

Hiring a lawyer will help you to avoid costly legal mistakes, such as not raising the correct affirmative defenses at trial. Hiring an experienced foreclosure defense trial attorney costs less than losing your home and paying rent somewhere else.

Do not accept what the bank is telling you

The bank is on its own side, not yours. While the bank customer service representative you spoke with may have seemed helpful, they have no actual authority to do much. Don’t trust that the foreclosure is on hold because someone told you it was – get everything in writing. If an attorney takes over your interaction with the bank, the results will be swift and they won’t be able to gloss over details that may not work in your favour.

For example, if you negotiate a loan modification yourself with the bank as a solution to the foreclosure, a customer service rep may tell you they’ve received the documents. However, you may find out on the last day before the foreclosure trial that the loan modification has been denied because they did not receive all the documents requested. With a lawyer, that scenario simply can’t happen.

A lawyer is cheaper than moving

If you wait for a foreclosure Summons to arrive before contacting us, a lawyer is generally cheaper than moving. Contact us today to find out about fees, what we can do for you, and how to get the process working in your favour instead of the bank’s.

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