As a real estate professional, your main job is to help people manage a real estate transaction. You help sellers maximize the curb appeal of their property to push buyers into a bidding frenzy, or you help buyers wade through the market and find the right house for their needs and budget.
Once the closing takes place at a title office, you will probably assume that you have fulfilled your responsibilities to your clients, barring a possible conflict during the exchange of possession. However, some buyers will reach out to you when they face foreclosure on a home that you helped them purchase.
Understanding the process could help you give them the right advice.
State law and their loan dictate what happens
Florida has specific rules in place regarding foreclosure proceedings on both primary residences and investment properties. Owner-occupied properties have slightly better protection, and the owners of such properties may have access to more assistance programs than those who purchased investment properties to rent to others or refurbish and flip for a profit.
The terms of the loan will explain how quickly the lender can start the foreclosure process. Missing just one payment can affect someone’s loan and lead to penalties. Multiple missed payments can make catching up on the mortgage even harder. If someone cannot quickly redeem the property and bring the loan into compliance, they will likely have to go to court.
What happens in a foreclosure hearing?
Florida foreclosure hearings offer property owners an opportunity to defend their ownership interest in a property. Homeowners have the right to an attorney and to try to fight back against the lender’s claims.
Proving financial hardship won’t stop a foreclosure, but proving legal non-compliance or accounting errors on the part of the lender could. Foreclosure hearings take place in front of a judge, not a jury. The judge’s job is to interpret the contract and state law appropriately given the circumstances.
As a real estate agent, you may need to support clients as they connect with legal representation and plan a foreclosure defense. While you may not personally have the legal expertise necessary to handle such proceedings, you can at least give your clients an idea about their defense options and what the process involves.
By helping a client respond to issues with their financing, you protect their interest in the property and hopefully establish yourself as a supportive professional that they can trust and recommend to others. Learning more about foreclosure defense will make you a better-rounded real estate agent more capable of providing the support and guidance that your clients need.