Florida is not the most consumer-friendly state when it comes to foreclosures. Foreclosure sales happen quickly and sometimes before you realize it.
That’s exactly why you need to act fast if you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage.
If you are past due on your mortgage, your mortgage company may file a foreclosure case. There is no requirement that you be notified that the case has been filed, and the lender is not required to serve you with any papers at this point. Because most mortgages require that you receive notice of default, however, you will generally receive a letter from your lender’s attorney that a foreclosure action has been filed and giving you a short time – normally thirty days – to bring the mortgage current.
Under a federal law known as the Service members Civil Relief Act, members of the military have additional rights regarding lawsuits brought against them, including foreclosures. If you or a co-owner of a property in foreclosure is a member of the military, you should ask an attorney what additional rights you may have as a result of this statute.
Once the foreclosure case has been filed and any required advance notices have been given, a sale will be scheduled. The notice must be published in the newspaper, and the lender’s lawyer will send you a notice by certified and first class mail of the time, place and terms of the sale. There’s no requirement that you receive the notice, only that it is sent.
If the foreclosure is not withdrawn, the sale will take place on the scheduled date. The auction is public, and open to anyone who wants to bid. The auction is usually conducted outside the county Courthouse (not at your property). In many cases, the lender “bids in” the property, meaning that there are no buyers who are willing to offer more than the mortgage principal, and the lender becomes the new owner of the property.
Most people think that they have to immediately leave their home once the foreclosure has occurred. This is not true. A foreclosure purchaser cannot force you out until the sale has been ratified, or approved, by the Court, which usually takes about a month after the foreclosure. Next, the foreclosure purchaser must file a landlord-tenant action against you, which also usually takes about a month. Only then can you be evicted.
Once the sale has taken place, it usually takes about a month for it to be ratified, or approved, by the Court. After ratification, the sale is audited, and a determination is made as to who receives payment. If the sale price was less than the liens on the property and the expenses of sale, you may be liable for a deficiency judgment, where you are held personally responsible for the shortfall. Likewise, if the sale price was higher than the liens and expenses, you may be entitled to receive the surplus.