HomeBusinessTop 12 “Must Ask” Questions When Shopping for a Foreclosure Defense Attorney
Top 12 “Must Ask” Questions When Shopping for a Foreclosure Defense Attorney
October 23, 2020
You need the right foreclosure defense attorney for your case, so shop around. Asking the right questions can get you the RIGHT attorney, the first time.
In the first six months of 2020, a staggering 165,530 properties in the United States had foreclosure filings. While this figure is considerably lower than it was the same period a year earlier, it still paints a clear picture of the high number of Americans who face foreclosures every year.
A default notice, scheduled auction, or bank repossession can quickly turn your dream of owning a home into the ultimate nightmare. So, what do you do when faced with foreclosure?
For many people, hiring a seasoned foreclosure defense attorney during this daunting time is the obvious step. But do you really need the services of a lawyer? If so, how can you identify the foreclosure defense lawyer for you?
If you’re asking yourself these questions, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more.
Do You Need a Foreclosure Defense Attorney?
While the law doesn’t demand that anyone in danger of foreclosure or going through a foreclosure process should hire an attorney, it’s always a good idea to do so. This is especially the case when you are dealing with a judicial foreclosure.
An experienced foreclosure attorney can swing the odds in your favor when the likelihood of getting approved for a loan modification is low. They can help with filing the necessary documents within the window of time set by law. Your attorney will also represent you in court should it come to that.
A competent foreclosure attorney can also help you rectify mistakes that a lender may have done to harm you. For instance, if the lender takes possession of your home and changes locks before they’re legally entitled to do so, it’s within your rights to file a lawsuit against them.
Questions to Ask Your Potential Foreclosure Attorney
When fighting to save your home, having the right attorney on your side can make a world of difference. Here are some top questions when shopping for a foreclosure defense attorney to make sure you land the right person for the job.
1. Are You Licensed to Practice in This State?
Before you even consider working with an attorney, it’s important to know whether they can legally practice in your state. Sure, any foreclosure attorney can advise you on what you need to do and maybe even negotiate with your lender on your behalf. However, if your case goes to court and your attorney isn’t licensed to practice in your state, you could be in trouble.
To save yourself from the trouble of having to look for a new attorney later, ascertain whether your potential attorney is licensed in your state.
2. How Many Cases Similar to This Have You Handled Before?
The best foreclosure defense attorney for you is the one with ample experience in the field. How many years has your prospective attorney practiced foreclosure defense law? How many cases similar to yours have they successfully litigated in court?
Generally, you want an attorney who’s been litigating against mortgage companies for at least five years. Such an attorney will most likely be familiar with courtrooms and judges in your area, which may give you an edge when fighting a foreclosure.
3. Do You Have Any References?
One of the best ways to know what to expect from a foreclosure attorney is by seeing what their previous clients say about them. A competent lawyer will usually have a string of satisfied clients they can refer you to.
Of course, some attorneys may not be quick to mention specific names due to confidentiality issues. However, if your potential attorney has testimonials from previous clients available, then these testimonials can be an excellent way of seeing what actual clients say about the attorney.
If the law firm has a website, visit it and check online reviews from past clients. If customers say good things about the attorney, chances are you’ll have a great experience working with them too.
4. Do You Have Any Conflicts of Interest?
Every attorney has an ethical obligation to advise their clients of any conflict of interest. That said, you should still ask.
If the attorney previously represented your lender or regularly represents them, and this representation may limit their ability to represent you, then there’s a conflict. Of course, not all conflicts will automatically disqualify counsel, but it pays to assess the nature of the conflict before you make any commitments.
5. What Are the Possible Results?
While you can’t expect your foreclosure attorney to guarantee a specific result, they should be able to give you possible outcomes in your case. Once they’ve assessed your specific situation carefully, an attorney worth their salt will provide a reasonably accurate idea of what you should expect at the end of your case.
6. How Long Will The Case Take?
The length of a foreclosure case will vary depending on your specific situation. Just like your attorney cannot predict the actual outcome of a case, they can’t give you the exact date your case will be resolved.
However, the best attorney should be able to give a fairly accurate estimate of the amount of time your case will take. They do so by evaluating your case and looking at the strategy you are going to deploy in your case. Once you have a good idea about the time frame of your case, it’s easier to prepare for the litigation process.
7. What Is Your Success Rate?
It is not enough that your attorney has practiced foreclosure law for many years. You want to know their track record when it comes to successful litigation. Top foreclosure attorneys will have no problem telling you how they have performed in court in recent cases.
If you find an attorney with a record of winning against big mortgage companies, your chances of a positive outcome improve.
8. What Other Alternatives Are There?
While it’s critical to find an attorney with ample experience in litigating foreclosure cases, sometimes litigation isn’t the best defense. If you’ve been the victim of illegitimate fees or fraud, then litigation maybe your best option. However, if pursuing a different solution, such as filing for bankruptcy, is the better option, then your attorney should advise you on that.
9. What Defense Approach Shall You Use?
There are several approaches one can use when fighting a foreclosure.
You can opt to stay in your home and seek a loan modification. Another approach is to file for bankruptcy. You can also propose the idea of a short sale to your lender.
There are other options to defend against foreclosure. The best attorney will inform you of these options and suggest the most suitable one for you.
Beware of attorneys who treat all foreclosure cases the same. Their approach may be unsuitable for your specific situation, and you could end up in a worse situation than you began with.
10. What Do You Expect From Me During Case Preparation?
Clients have a significant role to play in helping their foreclosure attorneys. Ask your attorney what they expect you to do or not do during your case. Usually, the attorney will advise you to avoid speaking to any witnesses or doing legal work on your own.
Your lawyer may ask you to provide certain documents and background information relevant to the case. This information is essential for the discovery process.
Some lenders can withhold certain essential information from homeowners. If you feel that your lender is withholding certain information from you to interfere with your chances of successfully defending against the foreclosure, let your attorney know about it.
11. How Often Will You Provide Updates About the Case?
Knowing that you’ve found an attorney who’ll competently take care of every detail associated with your case is a massive relief. However, top attorneys go beyond that to keep their clients aware of the status of their cases. Your lawyer should be able to inform you immediately a change occurs.
The last thing you want is to hire a lawyer you’ll rarely hear from once your case starts. You want someone you can reach easily. Ask whether you’ll be communicating with them directly or through someone else.
Find out what form of communication you can expect to be using. The best attorneys allow clients to reach them through various channels, such as phone, emails, face to face meetings, and so on.
12. How Does Your Fee Structure Look Like?
Foreclosure attorneys have different methods that they use when collecting payment for cases. Some charge a flat rate, while some charge an hourly rate. Other attorneys work on a contingency basis.
No fee structure is wrong. However, you want to know how your attorney will charge you, so there are no surprises during the time you work with them.
Hire the Right Foreclosure Defense Lawyer for You
No one dreams of ever facing foreclosure, but life happens. During such intimidating times, you need all the help you can get. Hiring the right foreclosure defense attorney can boost the chances of a positive outcome.
Would you like to read more great content on foreclosure defense? Please keep visiting our blog.