Did Your Bank Lie

The collapse of the U.S. housing market impacted the economy on a global scale, but few places were hit harder than South Florida.

At the height of the foreclosure crisis, filings in Florida soared to 400,000 cases a year, compared to an average of 70,000. New cases are still being filed faster than they can be resolved. Measures intended to address this backlog have instead resulted in the effective steamrolling of homeowners’ rights.

The Miami foreclosure defense lawyers at Jacobs Keeley take great pride in defending homeowners in these difficult times.  We believe our clients caught in the unprecedented wave of foreclosures need sound advice now more than ever.   

We have developed an affordable, formidable defense strategy. We hold the bank to its burden of proof, while we fight to get time back on your side. Jacobs Keely can guide you through the dangerous waters, whether you want to stay in your home or get out from under it.

We offer assistance with:

  • Deficiency Judgment
  • Foreclosure Defense
  • Loss Mitigation
  • Loan Modification (Regulation X)
  • Quiet Title Action
  • Regulation X Program

To foreclose on a mortgage in Florida, a bank must do more than prove a borrower has not made payments. There are powerful defenses to be raised in Florida. You have the right to conduct discovery, request documents and hold the bank accountable.

Most banks push for a quick foreclosure. When lenders fear an aggressive defense, they identify your file as a “problem” case, and in turn, you are far more likely to get better results. While loan modification companies might make big promises, they cannot fight for you in court – and the banks know it. Jacobs Keely is committed to helping you tailor an extensive foreclosure strategy to negotiate from a position of strength.

Perils of Predatory Lending

One of the great successes of Wall Street has been to convince many that the foreclosure crisis was somehow the fault of borrowers who were irresponsible in taking out loans they couldn’t afford. This myth continues to be perpetuated, and contributes to the social stigma of shame that often causes homeowners to wait far too long before seeking help.

Here’s the reality: More often than not, lenders and mortgage brokers routinely took advantage of homeowners by offering unrealistic teaser rates, negative amortizing and pay-option loans. Brokers raked in higher commissions on these loans, even when most borrowers qualified for fixed rate or better-priced loans. The result of these abusive practices is borrowers are burdened with thousands of dollars in unfair fees and interest.

The good news is victims of unfair lending practices may have increased leverage in negotiating a resolution to foreclosure.

Numerous state and federal banking laws mandate lenders disclose key terms and conditions to borrowers prior to closing. In cases where this is not done, there could be violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), the Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA) and the Home Owners Equity Protection Act (HOEPA), as well as other state regulations.

Any one of these violations can form the foundation of a solid foreclosure defense.

By reviewing the paperwork you signed when you applied for the loan, and then at the time of closing, it may be revealed your bank failed to accurately and truthfully disclose terms of the loan. If predatory lending is discovered, borrowers may be entitled to rescind the loan, recover interest, points and fees paid – including your down payment. In some situations, the bank may entirely lose its right to enforce the mortgage.

Evolving Foreclosure Landscape

The threat of foreclosure is daunting, and many families endure great anxiety about the future. Our goal is not only to get you results, but to do so in a way that grants you peace of mind throughout the process.

The legal landscape in foreclosure law has evolved dramatically in the years since the Great Recession, and changes continue to be implemented. Some of these measures have resulted in greater consumer protections, but others have eroded homeowner rights. At Jacobs Keely, we work to ensure we’re informed on up-to-the-minute appellate decisions, new legislation and other ongoing legal developments.

Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, borrowers have the right to challenge the validity of a mortgage debt. Once the challenge is initiated, lenders must stop all collection action until that debt is appropriately verified.

One of the most distressing developments for underwater homeowners in Florida is Florida’s Fair Foreclosure Act, which went into effect July 1, 2013. Although it began as an effort by the Florida Legislature and judicial leaders to improve the economy by clearing the foreclosure backlog, it’s become a nightmare for homeowners.

While the measure reduced the amount of time banks have to file foreclosure (from five years to one), speeding up the foreclosure process has meant there is less time for homeowners to negotiate modification, explore loss mitigation, complete short sales and prepare transition housing.

Within days of the law taking effect, lawmakers allocated millions of dollars from the state’s cut of the National Mortgage Settlement to hire additional judges to flush cases more quickly through the system. The settlement was paid for foreclosure abuses, specifically related to the robo-signing scandal in which banks hired people to sign thousands of false affidavits later used in foreclosure litigation. In essence, penalties paid by banks for transgressions against homeowners and taxpayers are now being used to further trample the rights of homeowners and taxpayers.

Although Florida law holds the procedure must be “equitable,” meaning the court may not permit a foreclosure if the borrower establishes a lender had “unclean hands,” during or after the mortgage, these new actions undercut such protections. Now more than ever, homeowners facing foreclosure must seek solid legal advice at the beginning of their case.

Homeowners who don’t act within 20 days of receiving notice of a foreclosure lawsuit may waive important defenses.

Borrowers who want to keep their property have the following options:

  • Fight Foreclosure. You can continue to live in the home without making payments while the fight goes on.
  • Loan modification. This may reduce the principal amount owed on the loan, extend payment schedules or slash interest.
  • Refinance. If you can make regular monthly payments, this may be the best option.
  • Forbearance. A bank may agree to delay foreclosure proceedings, which will give you more time to develop a plan.

If you don’t wish to stay in your home or can’t make even modified payments, you may consider:

  • Short sale. This is where the bank agrees to accept less than the total on the mortgage.
  • Deed-in-lieu. The bank agrees to avoid litigation and the borrower agrees to sign over the title to the property.

Whatever your goal, we can help.

If you're battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Keeley Trial Lawyers for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.

Call us at (305) 358-7991.

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