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We represent homeowners who are being sued for foreclosure by banks or other mortgage-related institutions. The following information is provided to help you...

  1. Understand the foreclosure system.
  2. Select a competent foreclosure attorney.
  3. Understand your options regarding your foreclosure.
This information represents our firm's philosophy and view of the foreclosure system based upon our professional experience defending homeowners. Some people (especially in the banks) might disagree with our views.
In Florida, most banks use the following law firms to handle the vast majority of foreclosures:
  • Butler & Hosch
  • Default Law Group
  • Greenspoon Marder
  • Law Offices of David Stern
  • Law Offices of Marshall Watson
  • Shapiro & Fishman
It is a short list of law firms but they file many thousands of foreclosure. They have attorneys who work on foreclosure all day long, all week long, and all year long. These attorneys develop an expertise in prosecuting foreclosure cases for banks.

In Florida, the banks must file suit in circuit court to obtain a foreclosure judgment. The banks must properly serve all defendants (including you), then obtain a final judgment, then have the property sold by the court to satisfy the amount of the judgment, and then have the court issue a title to the successful bidder at sale. You can fight the bank every step of the way. However, your case is assigned to a judge who will preside over your fight with the bank.

A jury of your peers might be sympathetic to your foreclosure situation. Unfortunately, by law, juries are not involved in foreclosure cases. The judge makes all decisions in your case, including rulings on motions and veredicts at trial. Judges see the bank attorneys in court every day. They develop a familiarity with these attorneys. Foreclosures generate a lot of paperwork for the court. The people in the court system who process the paperwork for the judges also develop a familiarity with these attorneys. Judges have a lot of foreclosure cases so they have an incentive to quickly move these cases through the court system.
Your attorney should be just as familiar to the judge as the bank attorney. Your attorney should have just as much expertise in foreclosure law as the bank attorney.

When you consider hiring a foreclosure defense attorney, ask the following questions.

1. Has the attorney ever worked for a firm that represents banks in foreclosure cases?  For how long?  If your divorce attorney wants to defend your foreclosure case, is that your best option?  The senior partner at our law firm, Michael Udowychenko, worked as an attorney for the banks for many years.  He has experience with foreclosure law similar to the attorneys who now represent the banks.  He has been before many judges on foreclosure cases, just like the bank attorneys.  This experience provides insight into how the banks prosecute foreclosure cases and sets the foundation for how our firm defends foreclosure cases.

2. Has the attorney given you a written contract that clearly states how you are going to pay the attorney?  You do not want an attorney who will increase payment unexpectedly if the case becomes difficult.  Our firm provides clear written contracts stating the fee for the duration of your case.  We have seen other attorneys include the following language in their contracts:

 "If your foreclosure action has not been resolved as described above in a period of 18 months … the representation will automatically terminate.  If you wish to employ this firm after this 18 month period we will negotiate with you at that time regarding a fee for continued representation.”

Do you think that the other attorneys who use this contract will increase or decrease your fee after 18 months?  Do you think that the bank knows that your attorney fees will increase after 18 months?  Our firm charges the same rate for the entire duration of your case.  We have also seen other attorneys include the following language in their contracts:

“Please be advised that we will consider that our efforts have succeeded and accordingly the remainder of our fee is due and owing … mediation has been ordered … or the sale date has been extended by at least 45 days.”

What if the mediation is not successful?  Who defends your foreclosure action after that?  A sale date means that you lost the foreclosure case.  If the only thing your attorney did was extend the sale date by at least 45 days, then you have not gained much.

3. According to your contract with the attorney, who pays for costs?  In addition to attorney’s fees, there are costs associated with defending a foreclosure action such as court reporter fees.  Will your attorney bill you extra for those costs?

4. Has the attorney made promises to you that are too good to be true?  If your attorney verbally promises you specific results, get those promises in writing as part of the contract before you sign the contract.  This is especially true with promises regarding loan modifications.  If your attorney promises a modification, get the promise in writing and include the specific amount of the new modification.  An example would be an attorney who promises to get you a loan modification with $1,200 monthly payments for thirty years at 5 percent beginning on a specific date.  If that promise is not in writing, it is worthless.  Some attorneys only promise to get you a modification.  Our clients have complained that these attorneys negotiate a modification which reduces their monthly payment by only twenty dollars and then these attorneys claim that they have fulfilled their contractual obligation and earned their fee.  In other instances, our clients have complained that these attorneys only get them a temporary modification.

5. Has the attorney or his firm been disciplined by the Florida Bar?  You can check any attorney's discipline history at Floridabar.org.  Our firm's attorneys have not been disciplined by the Florida Bar.

6. Does the attorney's firm represent banks or corporations in other cases?  If so, your attorney may have a conflict of interest.  Our firm does not represent any banks or corporations.


1.  Non-attorneys cannot defend your foreclosure case in court.  This means that:

A.  Brokers cannot defend your foreclosure case.  Many of our clients have come to us after listing their property for sale with a broker, often for a short sale.  They tell us that the broker promised to stop the foreclosure case.  We have never had a case where a broker actually stopped a foreclosure case or even filed paperwork with the court.  Some of our clients found out their broker was lying only after they lost the foreclosure case.

B.   A loan modification company cannot defend your foreclosure case.  Many of our clients have come to us after paying money to a loan modification company and getting nothing in return.  Here is an article that ran in the Orlando Sentinel about people getting ripped off by loan modification companies.  ATTACH ARTICLE

C.  Florida law says that a loan modification company and its employees must be registered with the Office of Financial Regulation.  The law was needed due to massive fraud by loan modification companies.  You can visit the Office of Financial Regulation website at www.flofr.com.  Each employee of the loan modification company must be registered.  If your loan modification company is not registered, you may be the victim of fraud.  If the company employee that you are dealing with is not registered, you may be the victim of fraud.

D.  Florida law says that a loan modification company cannot charge you for services until the modification is completed.  If a loan modification company wants you to pay money up front, beware!  We have seen loan modification companies include the following language in their contracts:

     “This fee and monies are non refundable”

     “It is at the discretion of the lender … to consider and make a final decision”

     “I agree to indemnify and hold harmless (the loan modification company) for any liability”

 These examples show that the language in loan modification company contracts is not always for your benefit.

E. Non-attorneys are not permitted to file paperwork in court on your behalf or to argue before the judge on your behalf.  Because of this, many non-attorneys will give you papers to file in court yourself.  If the papers are bad, you pay the price twice.  First, you lose your foreclosure case.  Second, you lose the money that you paid for the bad papers. I have seen many people go to court with papers prepared by a non-attorney - the result is always predictable - they are suprised to lose their case, the judge gets angry that they filed papers prepared by non-attorneys, and the judge reports the non-attorneys to the authorities.

2.  Loan Modifications.  You do not have to hire anybody to do a loan modification or agreement with your bank.  If your bank wants to do a modification, it can be typed and signed in less than a week.  We encourage all clients to try to work out an agreement before the bank files a foreclosure case.  Here are some tips about modifications:

A.  Your loan modification should be in writing.  This protects you and prevents any misunderstanding.  The terms of your note and mortgage probably require that the agreement be in writing.

B.  Do not send the bank money until the loan modification is signed by both you and the bank.  Many banks make a verbal promise that they will do a modification if you send in payments for a few months.  These promises are non-binding because they are not in writing.  The final result for many people is that the banks take their payments and then proceed with the foreclosure case.  If you sign a modification agreement but the bank does not, then how is the bank bound by the modification?

C. Avoid “trial” or “temporary” modifications - they should be permanent and should cover all payments through the end of the loan.  Many banks do a writing that obligates you to make a few payments under a “trial” or “temporary” modification without obligating the bank to do anything other than to consider a modification after you make the payments.  This agreement is also non-binding upon the bank.  The bank is not required to give you a permanent modification.  The result for many people is that the banks take their “trial” payments and then proceed with the foreclosure.  It is a great agreement for the banks because it lets them take some more of your money just before taking your home.  Many recent articles in the press have highlighted this problem.  An article in the Orlando Sentinel stated that temporary modifications had been done for 650,000 mortgages but only 1,711 had become permanent.

D. Typical modification requirements.  Most banks will not do a modification unless you have a steady job with sufficient documented income.  If you do not have a job, if your income is too low, or if your income is Aunder the table and undocumented, then you are less likely to get a modification. 

E. Your bank may not want to do a modification with you.  When I worked for the banks, it seldom took more than a week to write up a loan modification if the bank wanted to do a modification.  Today, many banks simply do not want to do modifications.

F. Reasons why banks do not do modifications.  The original bank may no longer own your loan.  If another bank purchased your loan, they probably got it at a steep discount.  If your original loan was for $250,000, the new bank may have paid only $30,000 for it.  If your property is now only worth $150,000, the new bank can sell it even cheaper after foreclosure for only $120,000 and still make a quick profit of $90,000.  They can triple their money in a year by taking your home.  This is why the new bank ignores your request to modify the loan to reflect the current value of the property.  If they do a modification, the payments may stretch out for 30 years.  Why should the bank accept payments over 30 years if they can triple their money now?

G. Keeping up appearances.  Congress has the ability to pass all kinds of laws to help homeowners.  This power scares the banks.  Banks do not want Congress to pass such laws.  Because of this, banks must “keep up appearances” with lobbying and a public relations campaign that says they are helping homeowners with 1-800 help line phone numbers, workout packages, and loan modifications.  This is called “window dressing”.  What is your bank doing?  Can you talk to a real human when you call your bank?  Does your bank respond to your letters and telephone messages?  Does your bank delay by asking for more and more documents for your workout package?  Did your bank give you a permanent modification in writing or did they just sue you for foreclosure?  What does this tell you about your bank’s true intentions?

H. You should not stop making payments on your home just to get a modification.  Many of our clients were told by their bank that they had to stop making payments before they could get a modification.  After they stopped making the payments, their bank filed for foreclosure instead of doing a modification.  Then they had to hire our firm to defend the foreclosure.

Unfortunately, we see many banks who do not want to do modifications with homeowners.  They just want to take the home.  If the bank will not do a modification with you, then you may need to hire an attorney to defend the foreclosure.

A.  Read the Summons.  You were served with a Complaint (the actual suit for foreclosure) and a Summons.  The language in the Summons is dictated by the Florida Supreme Court for your benefit to explain how to respond to the lawsuit.  Read the summons.  If the bank (or anybody else) tells you to ignore the summons, they are lying to you.  Many of our clients were told by their bank that the Summons and Complaint were a mistake and that they did not need to respond.  This is because their bank did not want them to defend the foreclosure. 

B.  You must respond to the Complaint and Summons within 20 days after you are served.  If you do not respond within 20 days, you will lose your rights, your defenses, and then your home.  Read the summons to verify this.

C.  Your response must be in writing.  A phone call is not sufficient.  Read the summons to verify this.

D.  Your response must be legally sufficient.  Even if you respond to the Complaint on time and in writing, a legally insufficient response will not help you.  The purpose of hiring an attorney is to have someone who is on your side prepare a legally sufficient response.  Read the summons to verify this.

E.  Banks engage in dirty tricks and they do not like it if you hire an attorney.  Banks may come to your house and harass you, they may call you constantly and harass you, they may tell you that you cannot defend your foreclosure case, they may tell you that the judge hates you, they may tell you that your house is already set for sale, they may tell you that you have to move out of your house immediately.  We have met with many people who have had these experiences.  If you hire an attorney, the bank may tell you that you have to get rid of your attorney before they can give you a modification (Why didn’t they give you a modification before you hired an attorney?).  The bank may criticize your attorney and try to get you to fire your attorney.  In summary, the bank may try anything to get your property.

F.  You do have options. Many people think that foreclosures cannot be defended and that immediate foreclosure is inevitable.  Most foreclosure suits can be defended and delayed to allow additional time for refinancing, loan reinstatement, loan modification, short sale, avoidance of an in personam deficiency judgment, or to allow people additional time to live in their home before becoming homeless.  Some foreclosure suits can be dismissed due to technical deficiencies by the lenders or their attorneys.

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If you would like to consult our firm regarding your case, call us at 407-ATTORNEY (407-288-6763). We would like to meet with you personally, answer any questions that you have, and make copies of the important documents for your file so we can get to work immediately


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