Philadelphia Mortgage Foreclosure Lawyer
Philadelphia Mortgage Foreclosure Lawyer - David M. Offen, Esq
Explore available options when you are facing mortgage foreclosure in Philadelphia with noted bankruptcy and mortgage foreclosure attorney David M. Offen, who has saved many homes from foreclosure for his clients.
Over his more than 20 years of experience practicing law, Mr. Offen has helped thousands of clients just like you with mortgage foreclosures. He brings big firm expertise to a small firm’s level of customer service, getting to know his clients personally and making sure all questions are answered and the process thoroughly explained. Find out for yourself – read his more than 300 positive reviews on Google.
You are treated as a person, not a number., when you come to Philadelphia foreclosure lawyer David M. Offen for help.
How Mortgage Foreclosure Works in Philadelphia
If you are reading this, chances are you are struggling to pay your Philadelphia mortgage bills and you have either fallen behind on your mortgage payments, or you are afraid you might. You might have even received notice in the mail that the bank intends to foreclose on your home in Philadelphia. Now you are probably wondering, what will happen next and what can I do about it?
Here Mr. Offen will discuss the mortgage foreclosure process in PA and give you several ways to defend against mortgage foreclosure and save your home.
If after reviewing this information you feel you need help defending against a Philadelphia mortgage foreclosure suit, you should contact an experienced mortgage foreclosure lawyer in Philadelphia to discuss your options. A Pennsylvania mortgage foreclosure defense lawyer can help you either save your home, or move on without your home in the most expedient and orderly way possible.
Important – If you are feeling stressed about this at all, working with a foreclosure defense firm will help put your mind at ease and help you resolve this situation, one way or another.
What is the Mortgage Foreclosure Process in PA?
Judicial Mortgage Foreclosure
In Philadelphia, homebuyers are protected from mortgage lenders’ abuse by the “judicial foreclosure” process. In this process, the lender must send a 30-day notice of intent to foreclose to you before the lender files a foreclosure suit. The notice of intent must be sent to you via first class mail at your last known address and, if different from where you live, to the property secured by the mortgage.
If you are not living in the property but elsewhere, the court considers the property “abandoned.” If a property is abandoned, this notice is not required and the lender can file suit right away under PA’s “fast track” law.
How Many Missed Payments Before Mortgage Foreclosure in Philadelphia?
From the first payment you miss, the lender must wait 120 days prior to starting mortgage foreclosure proceedings. FYI – for every payment you miss, a late fee is assessed against you.
Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint in PA
After the 30-day notice period (plus 3 days for mailing), the lender will file a mortgage foreclosure complaint in the county where the property is located. The complaint will be served upon (given) to you.
At this point you have a limited amount of time to file an answer. If you do not file an answer, the complaint is “uncontested” and the lender can “default” you and obtain a mortgage foreclosure judgment as a matter of course. The judgment is then sent to the sheriff and your property is listed for auction.
If you want to keep your home, you must file an answer. If you need help with this, a foreclosure defense law firm can help you. Lawyers for stopping foreclosure have fought against all of the major lenders in PA and know the defense tactics that work. Contact a foreclosure defense lawyer who can help you draft and file an answer.
How Can I Stop Foreclosure in Philadelphia?
There are several ways you can stop mortgage foreclosure in PA besides bringing your account current. Which you pursue depends upon your financial situation and whether you want to stay in your home, or not.
What to do If Your Financial Hardship is Short and Temporary
If your financial hardship is short and temporary, you should consider working with your lender to get one of the following:
- Mortgage Reinstatement – again, if you can pay the arrears plus fees and costs, you can just reinstate your mortgage as if the default and foreclosure never happened.
- Forbearance – you can ask the lender to reduce or suspend your monthly mortgage payments for a temporary period of time – say a few months.
- New Repayment Plan – you can promise your lender you will repay the arrears while making the regular monthly mortgage payment.
What to do if Your Financial Hardship is Long-Term and Permanent
If you feel that your financial hardship will not improve soon, consider the following:
- Mortgage modification – your lender may agree to change the interest rate, monthly payment, and term to make your mortgage more affordable for you
- Short sale – this is a sale of your home for less than the balance of your mortgage. The lender may forgive the deficiency balance, but this is reported to the IRS and you may have to pay taxes on it.
Deed in Lieu of
- Foreclosure – this legally transfers ownership of your home to your lender, which you execute in exchange for the lender forgiving the loan. Again, you may be taxed on the amount forgiven. The property must be vacant, and there cannot be any junior liens (second or third mortgages or HELOCs).
How Can I Stop Foreclosure in Philadelphia?
Under Pennsylvania and Philadelphia law, if you have the ability to catch up on the missed mortgage payments before the foreclosure sale actually occurs, the foreclosure proceedings must stop. Under the terms of your mortgage and note, you are probably liable for the court costs and the lender’s reasonable attorney’s fees in addition to the mortgage arrears.
Obviously, court costs and attorney’s fees get much higher as the case goes on so if curing the mortgage arrears is your plan, better to arrange it sooner rather than later. A Pennsylvania mortgage foreclosure defense attorney can work with you and examine the lender’s records to make sure you are paying the exact right amount of arrears and fees and costs, and not more.
If your property has been sold at a tax sale for failure to pay taxes, it is possible to get your property back through Philadelphia Tax Sale Home Redemption.
What Should I Do if the Bank or Mortgage Company Won’t Accept My Payments?
This happens, unfortunately. You should contact a mortgage foreclosure lawyer in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania to discuss your options, and save your payments in an interest-bearing bank account until your attorney can arrange for the lender to accept your payments.
Are There Agencies in Philadelphia That Can Help Me Catch Up on My Payments?
Pennsylvania’s Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) can help you catch up on your mortgage payments. If you have an FHA mortgage, there are separate programs to help you with it. A loan obtained through Rural Housing Services (RHS) has a foreclosure prevention program, but RHS loans are eligible for HEMAP.
If you qualify, HEMAP pays the lender the amount necessary to catch up on your mortgage and can also help you make your mortgage payments going forward. The total amount of assistance given under HEMAP can not exceed 24 months, or 36 months in times of high unemployment.
HEMAP money is a loan, so you must make monthly payments of $25 per month or more depending on your income and expenses. And if you sell your home or pay off the mortgage, the HEMAP balance must still be repaid.
You will qualify for assistance under HEMAP if you are suffering financial hardship due to circumstances beyond your control and there is a reasonable chance you can begin making full mortgage payments again before the 24 months of assistance runs out (again, 36 months in times of high unemployment).
Can I Save My Home by Filing Bankruptcy?
Sometimes filing bankruptcy can help save a home. First, when you file a bankruptcy petition, the foreclosure proceeding “stayed” or stopped while your bankruptcy case is active.
If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition, you can pay the mortgage arrears over a three- to five-year Chapter 13 plan. During your plan, you must make your regular monthly mortgage payments.
Chapter 7 does not allow you to catch up with your mortgage arrears but does give you the opportunity to legally surrender the property to your lender, if you’ve decided you can’t afford to keep it. If you surrender the property, any deficiency on your mortgage after the proceeds of the sheriff sale are applied to your account is discharged as unsecured debt.
Both Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy help you get lower priority unsecured debt, like credit card debt or medical bills, discharged. This frees up income to apply to your mortgage. Something to consider.
What Should I Do if I am Having Trouble Paying My Mortgage in Philadelphia?
If you are struggling to make your monthly mortgage payments but have not yet missed any payments, here are some steps you should take: