How long does the foreclosure process take in Florida?
It can vary.
Many foreclosure cases last anywhere between ten months and two years, when contested by a competent foreclosure defense attorney, although there is not a specific time frame for foreclosures and each case is unique. This is because the length of the process depends on the number of filings the court has in your county, the documents filed in your specific case, and what affirmative defenses you have alleged in your response to the complaint. There are foreclosure cases that are still going on in 2021 that are originally from 2008. Those cases have been going on for ever thirteen years.
With that being said, here is the general timeline including pre-foreclosure, foreclosure, final hearing, and post foreclosure, to give you an idea of what to expect.
Pre-foreclosure process timeline
From the date a homeowner fails to make their monthly loan payment until the filing of the complaint is usually between 90 to 180 days. When you fail to make monthly loan payments on your mortgage, your loan will go into default. Once you are in default, you will receive a letter from the lender notifying you of the amount in arrears and a date the full amount in arrears must be paid or else they will file a foreclosure case against you. If you do not pay the full amount in arrears, the lender will accelerate the loan. This means that the total amount of the entire loan is due, not just the amount of monthly payments you missed. The lender can accelerate the loan because once you go into default, your mortgage contains a term that says when you go into default, the total amount of the loan becomes due once the lender accelerates the loan. You still have the right to reinstate the loan, which means catch up on all of the arrears with a lump sum payment. However, the amount in arrears will include late fees, additional interest (sometimes at a higher rate), unpaid taxes and insurance payments, attorneys' fees, and court costs.
Florida foreclosure process timeline
- Filing and serving lawsuit (14 to 30 days)
Once the bank files a case in court, you will be served with a copy of the lawsuit. This means someone will knock on your door and physically hand a copy of the lawsuit to any person who is 15 years of age or older.
- Response (20 days)
The homeowner then has 20 days to respond to the allegations made in the complaint they were served with. There are different ways to respond to a complaint. It does not always mean that an answer must be filed. If an answer is filed, this is the time to add affirmative defenses which the homeowner may have. An affirmative defense is usually one that admits the fact but provides an excuse that my avoid liability.
- Discovery (60 to 180 days)
The lender or the homeowner has a period of time to serve discovery on the other side. The purpose of this is to obtain evidence of the party's position. After serving a discovery request, the other side has 30 days to respond. If no response is received, the party who requested discovery can file a motion to compel which usually results in a hearing where the judge orders the other side to comply. Some of the frequent discovery requests include, but are not limited to, the following:
Interrogatories. Questions sent to the other side that they must answer under oath.
Request for Production. Documents the other side is required to produce.
Request for Admissions. Statements the other side is required to admit or deny.
Even if you are knowledgeable about the process, discovery is best handled by an experienced attorney who can navigate discovery in the best interest of their client.
- Summary Judgment (60 – 120 days)
Once the lender believes they can obtain a final judgment, they will file a motion for summary final judgment. This states that there are no issues of material fact that the homeowner can allege that would prohibit a judgment and prevent the lender from winning the case in court. At the hearing, the lender must produce the note and mortgage. In addition, the homeowner must present arguments of the homeowner's defenses to show that the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement of fact or law to require the case to proceed to trial. If the lender is successful, the court will order a sale date to be set within 30 to 90 days.
Post Foreclosure Timeline
- Sale Date (30 to 90 days from the date of final judgment)
On the sale date, individuals and companies can bid on the property. The highest bidder will become the new owner. It is not uncommon for the lender to bid on the home and become the new owner. However, this does not always happen. Prior to the sale date, the lender or the original homeowner can file a motion with the court to cancel the sale. This can alter the sale date in rare circumstances. There are only certain circumstances when a court will agree to cancel or change the sale date.
- Certificate of Title (10 days)
If no objections to the sale within 10 days after the Certificate of Sale is filed, the Clerk of Court will issue a Certificate of Title. As a result, the highest bidder will become the new owner of the property. This will also allow them to secure possession of the property.
As you can see, this is a process that must be navigated taking proper steps within certain deadlines. In addition, the Florida Foreclosure Process Timeline is always changing. An experienced Foreclosure Defense Attorney will be able to guide you through this process to help get you the best possible outcome in your court case. Contact Kyle & Kyle Law at 877-595-3529 to learn about your options and let us help you save your home