Florida Foreclosure How it works

This information is intended only as a reference. If you have questions or concerns about your mortgage, you should consult an attorney or other adviser.

Source: nolo.com

You get behind in your mortgage payments

Under federal law, in most cases, the bank must wait until you are more than 120 days delinquent in payments before starting a foreclosure.

The bank sends a letter notifying you of its intent to begin foreclosure

A “breach” letter informs you that a foreclosure will begin unless you make up the missed payments, plus costs and interest.

The bank files a lawsuit

If you don't make up the missed payments, the bank will then go to court and file a lawsuit asking the court for the right to sell the home and apply the proceeds from the sale to the debt. The complaint might also ask the court to grant a deficiency judgment if selling the property won’t fully pay off the debt. If granted, you will be responsible for the outstanding balance left on the loan after the foreclosure sale.

The bank gives you notice of the lawsuit

The bank does this by delivering a summons and complaint to you (called "serving" you with a summons and complaint in legalese).

You have a chance to respond

The summons and complaint give you a period of time within which you must respond if you choose to contest or argue the lawsuit—usually between 20 and 30 days. Whether or not you file a response is up to you. If you don’t respond, the bank will ask the court for a default judgment and will automatically win the suit. The court then issues a default judgment authorizing the bank to sell your home.

If you do respond to the suit, you'll have the opportunity to tell a judge just why you think you have a legal right to keep your house and that foreclosure is not warranted. The better your defenses, the longer the process will drag out in court. Even if you win, though, it might be a temporary victory if the bank can fix whatever problem caused it to lose this time.

The court then issues a default judgment authorizing the sale of your home.

If the court decides in favor of the bank, it will enter a judgment ordering the sale of your property to satisfy the debt. At the sale the bank will likely make a credit bid. If no one makes a higher bid on your home at the foreclosure sale, the bank wins ownership of the property.

Right to redeem

A few states give you some time after the foreclosure auction to redeem the property and recover ownership of the home by paying off the successful bidder or paying off the entire mortgage debt. In Florida, this must occur before the clerk files the certificate of sale, or the time stated in the foreclosure judgment.

You leave voluntarily or get evicted

If you don't leave the property when your legal right to remain in the home ends (which depends on state law), you will receive an official, written notice to leave the property.