Foreclosure Law in Florida
In St. Augustine, Florida, foreclosure is a legal process through which an entity which has issued a mortgage takes possession and/or ownership of the property that secured the mortgage, because the person who took out the mortgage has consistently failed to make payments on it. The property in question is usually a house.
When individuals are facing foreclosure, it usually involves a house. The bank will take the house with the intent of selling it at an auction, hoping to cover whatever's left on the mortgage, giving them at least a chance to break even on the loan.
In Florida, and every other state, foreclosed homeowners can go through a "foreclosure by judicial sale." In this type of foreclosure sale, a court supervises the sale, ensuring that the bank makes every reasonable effort to get the highest price possible for the house. The purpose of this is to maximize the chances that the bank gets, at the very least, the remaining balance of the mortgage. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, it is intended to protect the borrower: it helps prevent them from still owing money after the house is sold at auction.
Some states treat mortgages as "non-recourse loans." A non-recourse loan is one that is secured by the borrower's property, but for which the borrower is not personally liable. Basically, this means that a lender in a foreclosure can take the house that was mortgaged, but nothing else. If the house sells for less than the lender is owed, it cannot go after the borrower.
How to Possibly Avoid Foreclosure in St. Augustine, Florida
It is absolutely essential that you maintain a line of communication with your lender. Your can't expect your lender to accommodate your changed financial situation if they don't know about it. Ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away is the worst possible solution.
You must keep in mind that banks are in the business of lending money, not flipping property: the bank doesn't really want your house. To that end, they'll sometimes go to great lengths to accommodate your financial situation, whatever it may be. For banks, foreclosure is a last resort.
Because banks don't particularly enjoy foreclosing, they will probably be willing to work out an alternative payment plan with you, if necessary. However, if you think that this might be needed in the near future, you should contact your lender immediately. The sooner they know about it, the more options you have.
Some buyers in Florida, when none of the above options have worked, resort to a "short sale." This involves selling a house which is about to be foreclosed, usually for less than its market value. If the house sells for less than what's left on the mortgage, the homeowner is relieved of the duty to pay the balance. If you have decided that you have no hope of making your mortgage payments, and foreclosure seems inevitable anyway, this might be the way to go.
Can a St. Augustine, Florida real estate attorney help?
If you are facing foreclosure in St. Augustine, Florida, and want to do everything practicable to save your house, the assistance of a good real estate lawyer might prove invaluable.