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An experienced Miami foreclosure attorney can help protect against deficiency judgments

Lenders dealing with foreclosures and short sales in South Florida and across the nation are expected to file a barrage of lawsuits seeking to recoup losses from homeowners, the Miami Herald reported.
An experienced Miami foreclosure defense attorney should assist buyers dealing with a short sale or foreclosure. Without a written agreement from your lender, you are exposing yourself to the possibility of being slapped with a huge judgment for outstanding mortgage debt — the difference between what your house is worth now, and what you owe on the mortgage. Get an experienced Miami real estate attorney and make sure you protect your financial well-being by seeking a waiver of such deficiency judgments. Otherwise, a short sale may help the bank, but won’t help you.

“It will be a dramatic problem because the borrowers will not know it’s coming,” Frank Alexander, a law professor at Emory University in Atlanta, told the Sun-Sentinel. Florida law gives banks five years from the date of a sale to file a deficiency judgment and up to 20 years to collect. Lenders can garnish wages, make claims against a borrower’s assets and use other means of collection.

While such deficiency judgments were rare before the housing meltdown, so were foreclosures and short sales and borrowers frequently had few assets worth chasing in an attempt to collect. But, with the advent of strategic default, banks are finding borrowers often walked away with significant assets and the bill collectors are suiting up for action.

A recent survey found more than 4 in 10 homeowners said they would consider walking away from a property with an underwater mortgage — meaning more is owed on the home than it is worth in the current real estate market.

Other homeowners at high risk of collection action include those who ransacked or damages properties in foreclosure, either out of spite or for a profit.

Mortgage companies typically won’t pursue homeowners who negotiate in good faith, or those who default because of job loss, health problems or other unforeseen circumstances, according to the Herald’s report. But don’t take the lender’s word for it; work with a qualified and experienced attorney to get it in writing.

Even if the mortgage companies don’t pursue collection action, they can sell the debt to a collection agency at a steep discount, and the debt collectors will come calling with all of the aggressive and disruptive tactics that they employ.

If you are facing foreclosure in the Miami area or are seeking a short-sale or home-loan modification in South Florida, contact Barakat, Jacobs & Associates for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 350-5055.

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