A key question to consider when you are facing a foreclosure is whether you have valid grounds to contest it. If you do, you will want to decide whether to hire an attorney to assist you. Many foreclosure cases do not require the assistance of an attorney, such as situations in which the foreclosure is clearly valid and the homeowner has no real defense. You may be able to work out a way to delay a foreclosure temporarily without an attorney.
If you choose to hire an attorney, you should consult several attorneys in your area to evaluate who is the right fit. You should find out about each attorney’s experience in cases similar to yours and get their initial impression of your situation. The attorney should give you a clear statement of how their fees will be calculated. Even if you decide not to proceed with an attorney, you may learn useful information about your options from an initial consultation.
Hiring an Attorney to Build a Defense
Fighting a foreclosure in court usually requires hiring an attorney who can assist you with the necessary paperwork and legal analysis. These cases tend to be very complex and technical. The attorney can review your situation to determine whether the lender may have violated a specific requirement imposed by state law. Since these requirements are detailed, you may not be able to identify this type of issue on your own. In some cases, if the violation is substantial enough, the attorney may be able to get the foreclosure dismissed.
An attorney also can help you explore a challenge to the standing of the lender or mortgage servicer. Standing is a legal term for the right of a certain party to bring a lawsuit. It exists in foreclosure cases only if the party seeking the foreclosure owns your loan. Identifying the entity that owns the loan may be less straightforward than it sounds, especially if the mortgage was bundled with others.
The records of mortgage servicers can be opaque to someone who is not familiar with the industry and the terms that it uses. An attorney will be better equipped to review the financial history of the account and identify errors or abuses by the mortgage servicer. For example, the mortgage servicer might have charged inappropriate or excessive fees, or it might have failed to promptly register payments to the account.
Legal Representation for Military Servicemembers
If you are on active military duty, you should be aware that you have specific rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). You may want to take the time to ask an attorney about the rights that this federal law provides, since it may be overwhelming to explore on your own. The protections of the SCRA can make a huge difference in delaying a foreclosure and giving you time to pursue alternatives.
When Loan Modifications Benefit from Attorney Assistance
You can probably negotiate a modification to your loan without an attorney. However, if the lender is engaging in improper dual tracking, you may want to retain an attorney who can hold the entity accountable for this violation. Dual tracking is the process of negotiating a loan modification with a homeowner while simultaneously moving forward with a foreclosure, and it is prohibited under federal law. If it is not identified promptly, dual tracking can lead to a foreclosure sale, which can be hard to reverse. A lender may be more motivated to follow the rules if it knows that you have an attorney on your side.