Ever since the foreclosure crisis hit Florida in 2008, there have been new foreclosure defense attorneys opening their doors on a regular basis. This is evident by the number of billboards seen throughout the state and the amount of television commercials attorneys create to draw in more clients. Many of these attorneys are qualified to handle foreclosure cases, but when you are facing foreclosure, you do not just need an attorney who can handle your defense; you need the attorney who is right for you.
To determine which foreclosure defense attorney is a good fit for your case, you will need to ask them several questions. The most important of these, and the answers you should be looking for, are listed below.
- How Many Foreclosure Cases Have You Litigated in Court?
Florida is a judicial foreclosure state, meaning that in order to foreclose, a lender must file a lawsuit against the borrower and take them to court. It is important to ask if a foreclosure defense lawyer has been in court and litigated against the big mortgage companies. Filing a bankruptcy case is not the same thing as litigating in court, and you want to make sure that your attorney has the experience necessary to give you the best chance possible in the event that you have to defend your case in court.
- Is Litigation the Best Defense for Foreclosure?
Although you want to make sure that your lawyer has experience litigating foreclosure cases in court, it is just as important to understand that this may not be the best route for you. If you are a victim of fraud or illegitimate fees and charges, you probably will have to go through litigation. On the other hand, if there is a better option for you, such as filing for bankruptcy, you want to work with a lawyer who will advise you of this option.
- How Often Do You Attend Classes and Seminars Regarding Foreclosures in Florida?
The law surrounding car accidents in Florida has not changed in decades; however, the laws surrounding foreclosures in Florida changes all the time. Foreclosure cases that were handled five years ago must be handled much differently now. You want to ensure that you are working with an attorney who keeps up with these changing laws, as they are very relevant to your case. If you work with a lawyer who is not familiar with these laws, it will pose serious problems for your defense and you could end up losing your home.
- Are You Licensed to Practice in Florida?
You may think that if you are speaking to a foreclosure defense lawyer in Florida, they are surely licensed to practice in the state. This is a mistake. Some lawyers have viewed the foreclosure crisis in Florida as an opportunity to bring in more business, even though they cannot legally practice law in the state. These lawyers may be able to negotiate with lenders for you but, if your case ends up in court, which many do, you could find yourself in a great deal of trouble. You will have to find a new lawyer and by that point, you may be running out of time in your case.
- What Approach Do You Use When Defending a Foreclosure Case?
There is more than one approach that can be used when defending a foreclosure. You can fight to stay in your home and obtain a loan modification, you can file for bankruptcy, or you can present your lender with the idea of a short sale. These are just a few options you have if a lender starts foreclosure proceedings against you. A lawyer may suggest all of these, or they may only suggest one.
You want to ensure that a lawyer will present you with many different options, even if they make a recommendation for one in particular. If you end up working with an attorney who treats all foreclosures the same, that approach may not be the right one for your case and you could find yourself in a bigger mess than when you began, such as if you filed for bankruptcy when you did not have to.
- How Often Will You Update Me About My Case?
It is a huge relief to hand your case over to an experienced attorney and know that they will take care of all the details associated with it. However, any attorney should still keep you up to date on the status of your case and any changes with it as soon as they occur.
One of the most common complaints against lawyers is that they take a case and then the client rarely hears from them. When they do get an update on their case or have a question, they only communicate is with a paralegal or an associate. While lawyers need these professionals to help them with cases, you should still mainly be working and communicating with the attorney you spoke with during your free consultation. If you are not, your case may not be getting the attention it deserves.
- What Is Your Fee Structure?
There are many different methods an attorney can use to collect payment for working on a case. They may work on a contingency basis, have a flat fee, or work based on an hourly rate. None of these are wrong, but it is important that you understand how and what you will be charged for working with an attorney so there are no surprises throughout your case, or once it is over.\