Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2013, and has been updated for accuracy in 2016.
Whether you're already in foreclosure or just in fear of being served foreclosure, the question of how to stop the foreclosure process and the thought of losing your home are probably already keeping you up at night. If you're in foreclosure or in fear of foreclosure there are several steps you can take to either prolong the process or stop foreclosure in Florida.
Refinancing is only an option if you have equity and haven't missed any mortgage payments in the last 12 months. If you owe more than your house is worth, refinancing is not an option and will not prevent foreclosure. If refinancing is an option for you, you should contact your bank immediately and ask about refinancing options. Refinancing your home should be easy if you have equity in your home. When refinancing your bank will take into consideration: your credit history, payment history, age of the mortgage, and the current value of your home.
A forbearance allows you to extend the length of your mortgage to make up for missed mortgage payments. If you have missed a few payments on your mortgage you have the option of calling your bank to stop foreclosure and ask for a forbearance, meaning that your missed mortgage payments will be forgiven and then added to the end of your mortgage. If you are already in foreclosure and wish to ask for a forbearance, the best way to do this is by hiring a foreclosure defense attorney.
Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure
Another way to stop foreclosure in Florida is by deed-in-lieu. It is highly recommended to enlist the help of a foreclosure attorney when asking for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. If you have decided that you no longer want to keep your home and you want to move on with slightly less of a hit to your credit, you may have the option to give your property back to the bank in order to stop foreclosure. While a viable option, if not handled by a lawyer, the bank may be able to pursue you later -- trying to reclaim taxes, fees, or even the difference in the amount owed on the property and its value when you surrender it. (You may be next in line for a deficiency judgment.)
This is quite possibly the most common way homeowners in the state of Florida stop foreclosure and stay in their home. After the recent housing crisis banks have been working with homeowners to try and stop foreclosures by reducing interest rates, lowering monthly mortgage payments, and in some cases even reducing principals on the home. Although a loan modification is a great option for a homeowner trying to stop foreclosure, it can be very difficult for a homeowner to get a loan modification without the help of a foreclosure attorney. The bank will ask for several different types of documents when applying for a loan modification and only a professional can tell you what you should and should not include when presenting a loan modification package to your bank, especially if you are self-employed or have recently undergone a financial hardship.
Loan modification does not stop foreclosure immediately, as the process can take 6 months or longer, and foreclosure defense is necessary throughout the process.
If you owe more than your house is worth, your bank may agree to do a short sale. This means that you may be able to sell your property and stop the foreclosure process and the bank will keep the amount of the final sale price. Although a short sale can stop foreclosure, the process is long and usually very stressful on the homeowner.
The best way to stop foreclosure in Florida is by hiring a foreclosure defense attorney to discuss your options with you. Everyone's situation is different and seeking the advice of a lawyer before you are served foreclosure is your best line of defense in stopping the foreclosure process.