Served Foreclosure Papers? 5 Things You Should Do.
My heart goes out to anyone who must suffer through the stress and embarrassment of being served a foreclosure complaint. I’m sure no one ever put this on their list of “Goals for the New Year”, but our economy is still very challenged and unfortunately, many Americans are still experiencing this awful situation.
I’d like to provide a little advice, and perhaps a little comfort, if you ever find yourself faced with a county official at your door with an ugly document in his hand.
First, take a deep breath, you’re going to make it through this. You are not alone, even though you may feel that way. The most important thing to do at this time is to do the best that you can to read the complaint. It will probably be confusing to you if you are not versed in reading legal contracts, but you need to look it over none-the-less. Pay close attention to the dates. In particular, the date that it was filed, the date on which you were served and the date you must answer the complaint.
Next, and this is very important, you need to talk to someone who can help you! Please don’t try to handle this critical situation on your own. Call your Mom or Dad, your brother or sister, a close friend , your Realtor- it doesn’t matter who – BUT make sure it is someone who will not be emotional, critical or judgmental. Tell someone who can keep you grounded and who possesses a clear head.
The next step that I suggest is to call your mortgage company or bank. This can be one of the toughest calls for some to make. A study was done in 2008 that documented that over 50% of homeowners faced with foreclosure never reach out and call their lenders even once. Not even once! This is a huge mistake, it really is. When you speak to your lender, it is helpful if you can voice your intentions. Do you want to try to stay in your home? Do you want to sell it? Do you think you may want or need to file for bankruptcy?
Now is the time to call an attorney. Many people feel that they are unable to afford the fee for legal advice. They feel that if they don’t have the money for the mortgage payment, how can they afford to pay an attorney? The reality is that you can most likely find an attorney who will provide a consultation for a small fee. The last client of mine who was in this predicament visited with an attorney for over an hour for a fee of $50.00. An attorney will be able to explain all of your options and the time-lines that you must adhere to, better than anyone else. Additionally, most states offer FREE legal advice to homeowners who are in default on their loans. Most mortgage companies and banks will provide the contact information to you.
In my mind, these are the 5 necessary, initial, actions to deal effectively with a foreclosure complaint. If you find yourself in this situation, please remember, as I already stated, you are not alone. Also, please know that there is help for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.