You have 3 choices when served with foreclosure documents: you can respond yourself, hire an attorney or do nothing.
You have the best chance of keeping your home with the help of a foreclosure defense attorney, and you are guaranteed to lose your home if you do nothing. If neither of these choices sound good to you, you can respond and represent yourself.
The summons tells you to file an Answer to the complaint to fight the lawsuit. Each person named as a defendant in the lawsuit will get their own summons. This can include the borrowers of the loan and any lienholders of your mortgage at the time of the lawsuit. It is important to note that the summons tells you how many days you have to respond to the complaint. It's usually only 20-30 days so you need to decide and act quickly if you are going to fight the foreclosure. In your response you must admit or deny whatever the complaint says about you. Anything you deny must be proven by the lender before they can proceed with the foreclosure of your home. If you don't want to fight the foreclosure you don't have to answer the summons and the court will enter a default judgment against you, which means you automatically lose the case and lose your home. Once the court enters a default judgment is is very difficult to get the court to set it aside.
The complaint outlines the lender's claims underlying the lawsuit. It tells the court exactly why the lender is foreclosing on your home. It will describe all of the elements of the mortgage such as: the promissory note, the property being foreclosed on, the default payment, how much you still owe on the loan and the relief sought by the lender. The relief is the foreclosure of your home. If allowed by law, the complaint could also ask the court for a deficiency judgment which allows them to hold you accountable for more money if the home doesn't sell for enough to cover the loan amount.
When you respond to the complaint you can assert defenses or affirmative defenses. A defense is a reason why the foreclosure suit should not have been filed in the first place. An affirmative defense is a reason why judgment should not be entered in favor of the lender. A copy of the answer to the complaint must be mailed to the lender's attorney, whose address you can find in the complaint under the attorney's signature. Filing an answer gives you more time to find a loss mitigation strategy while the court reviews your answer and waits for the lender's response.
Notice of Lis Pendens
The phrase lis pendens is Latin for suit pending. A notice of lis pendens is filed with the clerk of court and provides notice to the public that the property is involved in a foreclosure lawsuit.
Responding to the lender's attorney with the appropriate answers is daunting for someone who is already nervous about losing their home. For an experienced foreclosure defense attorney this is an easy and routine task. If you want the best chance possible of keeping your home contact an attorney when you are served with foreclosure documents. Good foreclosure attorneys have special skills developed over three years of law school and many years of practical experience, as well as extensive knowledge about the complicated area of foreclosure law. Only an experienced foreclosure attorney will be aware of all the possible defenses in your situation and know the proper way to use them to fight a foreclosure in court.