Today’s housing market is in shambles and with homeowners upside down on their mortgage or in risk of foreclosure, the future is uncertain for many people. Unfortunately, there are always those who will take advantage of this situation and target desperate homeowners using foreclosure resolution scams. Thankfully, there are several safety measures homeowners can take to avoid being scammed.

1. Always work with a reputable company that is approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Visit the HUD website before conducting any business to assure your safety.

2. Foreclosure-related services can be expensive but be careful who you pay. Most HUD-approved counselors provide low cost or free services. Never pay anyone until you know what you are getting and be weary of those who collect high fees before rendering services.

3. Get everything in writing. Many times con artists will guarantee that you can keep your home or promise “sure things”. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, always get everything in writing and keep copies for your records. Never make a verbal agreement.

4. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand. Understand deadlines for court papers and lenders but never sign something that has not been fully explained. Many scammers will try to force you to sign under pressure. Instead take time to review and read all documents before signing. It is preferred that you have a lawyer representing your interest review documents before giving the John Hancock. Additionally, never sign blank forms, incomplete forms, or a page with just a signature line. These documents could be manipulated into something you didn’t agree to.

5. Make sure you are formally released from liability for your mortgage debt before signing any sale of load consumption paperwork. Don’t sign away ownership without being sure you are no longer responsible for the debt. It is recommended that you have a real estate lawyer review any deed transfer papers or any other documents related to your foreclosure.

Stephen K. Hatchey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help you navigate this and many other legal matters. To receive a free consultation, contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.

When home is foreclosed in Florida, homeowners’ association (HOAs) liens can be passed on to the home’s new owner. If you buy a condominium or single family home at auction that is included in a mandatory HOA and has been foreclosed on, check to make sure the HOA dues are current. Depending on your state, associations have the right to file a lien on the property for unpaid assessments. Unpaid maintenance fees and HOA dues will continue to increase as the unit or home goes through the foreclosure process. Most associations will try to recover the money (up to 1 year’s worth) from the bank if the lender takes possession of the property, and it does not sell at auction.

HOA liens frequently survive foreclosure and are passed on to the new owner to pay current when the property is bought at auction. The association will not allow the bank to transfer ownership or title to the new owner unless the account is paid. A negotiation in lowering the dues may be done by the bank beforehand in the event that the property fails to appeal to buyers or can be negotiated into the sales price depending on the bank and association.

In most cases, the HOA takes a loss in their fees and end up collecting an additional deposit from new buyers in order to safeguard the possibility of another foreclosure and to make up for lost income.

Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help you navigate this and many other legal matters. To receive a free consultation, contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

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The foreclosure process is a difficult one for all parties involved, the lender, the borrower, and the new owner. It’s easy to forget, or not even know, what all of your options are. The basic foreclosure process begins with a “Notice of Default.” The lender is then responsible for filing a “suit pending,” which gives the borrower 20 days to file an answer to present their side at a hearing. After 20 days, the lender’s attorney will file a motion to declare a summary judgment.

A “Summary Judgment” is a court preceding that determines some or all of the case without a trial. The lender, or bank, is asking for title and possession of the property. Without counterclaims from the borrower, the court will issue an Order of Default, which admits the case. On the other hand, if the borrower submits a response and the matter goes to a hearing where the property owner can submit proofs by affidavit.

In most cases, the borrower will not be able to successfully argue the foreclosure. A sale date will be set within 45 days of the hearing. The judge can extend the sale date out another 120 days if the borrower would like to attempt a short sale. A legal ad of the sale will be published for two full weeks in local circulation before the Clerk of Circuit Court conducts the sale.

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Owning property, particularly residential property, is a big undertaking. There are many people who have a knack for providing the best lifestyle possible for local residents; however, there are some parts of the job that are easier than others. For instance, there are times when certain residents just don’t work out due to late or missed payments. More specifically, it’s difficult when new owners obtain property and have to evict former tenants.

The new owners will typically have a Writ of Possession built directly into the foreclosure proceedings, which means that the owner now has actual possession of the real property. Once these papers have been signed and certified, the current occupants are notified via mail. If the occupants still remain, the papers are delivered to the local sheriff’s office and depending on current volume, authorities will hand deliver the eviction notice. This can usually take up to a month depending on cooperating parties.

Generally within 3 days of the foreclosure sale the borrower specified on the loan would be sent a Notice to Quit. Within 90 days, all residents would be notified of the eviction. It is possible for tenants to remain on the property longer than 90 days if the following circumstances apply, the lease was renewed prior to the foreclosure, if the tenant is not the borrower, if the rent being paid is considered fair market value, or if the tenant continues to pay the rent specified in the lease.

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Every state has a process for homes in foreclosure. What a lot of people don’t tend think about is where will they live after the foreclosure is final. The foreclosure process consists of court hearings, bank meetings, and an auction to sell the property. The title is still in the owner’s name until the final sale of the property, but how long can an occupant remain on the property once a new title is issued?

Depending on how much you are willing to fight for your home, you have 10 days after the auction to object before the court will issue a title. The foreclosure is final when the property is sold “on the courthouse steps” to the highest bidder. The sale usually takes place between 28-35 days after the entry of the final judgment of foreclosure. Many judges will give you 60 to 90 days if you attend the hearing. The amount of time you have left on the property will primarily depend on the motivation of the new property owner.

There are a few things the new property owners will do. The first one is known as keys for cash. Typically you will see offers from $1500 to $5000 to help with relocation, but this will depend on the owner. The second option for new property owners will be to keep you on as a tenant. Some buyers invest in foreclosed properties, but don’t need to have them as a primary dwelling. Finally, the new property owner will ask you to leave within a certain amount of time.

If you have foreclosure questions Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help. Contact him at 813-549-0096.

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The housing market has finally started to turn itself around, there are less and less “for sale” signs and better mortgage rates than there were 5 years ago around this time. However, since the time has finally passed this means that the rough economic decisions you might have had to make might start really showing their true colors. Its takes a while for the red to show up on your ledger, but how long, and for what period of time will this red mark remain on your credit report.

A credit report is generally updated every 30 days to line up with creditors billing cycles. Within 30-90 days after your delinquent mortgage payments, the lenders will start the foreclosure process. Once the bank files for a foreclosure, rules the loan delinquent, and processes the sale of the home, the entire process can take between 90-180 days. The foreclosure will appear on your credit report at a similar time. It’s possible for it to show up on your report a few days after the sale, or up to 30 days afterwards depending on where the bank is in their billing cycle.

The impact of a foreclosure showing up on your credit report is roughly a 35 percent decrease in your credit score for the first year. The impact is likely to be more severe for the first two years, lessening as time goes on. Ironically enough, the higher your score was before the foreclosure the more negative impact it will have. If you have foreclosure questions Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help. Contact him at 813-549-0096.

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Although reports show that the economy is slowly climbing its way back up, there is still no shortage of homeowners facing foreclosure and short sale. This is a very troubling time, especially if you bought your home thinking that you would be able to refinance it, if you ever found yourself in a financial emergency. But with the crash of the housing market and the drop in home prices, many found themselves with no equity to be able to do so. In this event, it seems that renting is the only option. But is it?

Your ability to purchase a home after a foreclosure or short sale really depends on your credit score. When your house goes in to foreclosure, your credit score is greatly impacted. In order to get approval from a lender for mortgage, the lender generally likes to see a score of at least 620. But even then, down payments are going to extremely high and your interest rate may make the purchase not even worth it.

And aside from your credit score, lenders will see the foreclosure in your credit history (missed mortgage payments, ect). This typically will lead a lender into refusing to give you a mortgage. If you were lucky enough to not have the foreclosure reflected on your credit score yet, foreclosures are still viewable by public record and many lenders will pull this record before making their decision.

If you were able to do a short sale rather than foreclose on your home—this is often a better option—your chances of purchasing a house after a short sale are much higher than after a foreclosure. Studies show that there may be little to no waiting period after a short sale unlike a foreclosure that may take up to three years.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.

When it comes to buying or selling a house, taking on an agent can be a major decision. In some cases, an agent may make the entire process easier for you, but in other situations, using an agent may not be cost practical. Below is a list of pros and cons to carefully consider when buying or selling a home.

Selling a Home Pros

A real estate agent has access and knowledge of all the various ways to market your home. He or she will be able to make your home very visible in the market.

This isn’t their first rodeo. A real estate agent will know the ins and outs of selling your home and be able to give you practical advice on the asking price and how to state your house. The agent will also know how to properly show your home and interact with potential buyers.

When an offer has been accepted, a real estate agent will be able to guide you through the process and ensure all legal documentation is completed.

The real estate agent will be able to show your home even if you are unable to be there making your house.

Selling a Home Cons

You will have to pay your agent a certain commission based on the final closing cost. While you may think this ultimately works out for you because the agent will aim to sell the house for as much as possible, they will still be anxious for a paycheck and may cut out your bottom line.

The agent doesn’t need to make your house a priority to sell. He or she can continue selling other houses while your house sits on the market for months.

Buying a Home Pros

Outside of information you can gain online about available houses, an agent will be able to give you more in depth information like the school system, property values, real estate law and other aspects of the process. They may even be able to help you find a mortgage.

You will not have to be super flexible to view homes. An agent has access to show homes even if the seller and their agent are not available. With out the agent, you may not be able to see many homes in one day and you will have to work around when the seller or their agent are available or open houses where there are other potential buyers.

Agents can prepare legal documents and go over them in depth with you. If you don’t use an agent, you may have to seek legal help and have documentation put together by a lawyer who could charge you by the hour.

Real estate agents can negotiate on your behalf without emotions getting involved.

Buying a Home Cons

With all the information online about recently sold homes and homes for sale, it may not seem cost effective to pay an agent for information you can access on your own.

Because the agent has a financial interest in the deal—commission—they may push you to choose and make an offer on a home before you are truly ready.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.

Purchasing a home is always an exciting milestone. But before you dot the I’s and cross the T’s, a final walk through of the new property is always advised. Participating in the last inspection of the home will be strongly advised by your real estate agent.

In most cases, the final walk through is done five days prior to, or on the day of closing. This allows you, the buyer, to survey the property and make sure it is in the condition that you agreed upon in your contract.

Vacant properties, or properties that the seller has moved out of prior to closing are the most important to check. Without a resident in the home, it’s possible that repairs go unnoticed for an extended period of time. Partaking in the walk through will allow you the opportunity to catch potential maintenance issues that were overlooked in the inspection period or that have developed since that time. Repairs that are caught in time can be dealt with before closing or outside of closing between buyer and seller.

If the owners of the property do not move out until the day of closing, it’s best to complete the walk through with them. This gives you the chance to ask questions about the home and learn the house’s idiosyncrasies from those who know them best. It’s also a time to receive input on renovations or upgrades you may be planning. Taking the chance to speak to the sellers about any concerns or ideas you may have is an excellent start to settling in to your new home sweet home.

Once the walking through is complete, you can proceed in closing your purchase of the property and begin to enjoy your new home.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.