More and more homeowners in the United States are facing foreclosure. Bloomberg reports an alarming 22% year-over-year spike in the number of foreclosures filed in the first quarter of 2023. If you are facing the risk of foreclosure in South Florida, it is normal to feel stressed, frustrated, and unsure of what to do next—especially if you just received a foreclosure summons. 

Mortgage lenders do not have the unilateral right to take your home. At Jacqueline A. Salcines, PA, we are committed to helping homeowners in Florida protect their rights and their interests. Our Coral Gables foreclosure defense attorney provides a comprehensive overview of your legal rights and your legal options for responding to a foreclosure summons in Florida. 

Florida is a Judicial Foreclosure State

As background information, it is crucial to understand that Florida is a judicial foreclosure state. That is not true in every jurisdiction—U.S. foreclosure laws differ from state to state. In Florida, a mortgage lender/mortgage company must go through the court system to reclaim property from a homeowner who is allegedly in default. As a general rule, the process starts with the filing of a lawsuit by the lender. In a judicial foreclosure—including in Florida—a homeowner will receive a foreclosure summons. It is a legal document formally notifying you about the lender’s lawsuit. In other words, if you have received a foreclosure summons, it means that your lender/mortgage company has filed a lawsuit in a Florida court. 

A Foreclosure Summons is a Legal Complaint 

To be clear, a foreclosure summons is not just a simple notification. It is a legal complaint served by the lender who is seeking to foreclose on your property. It includes details about the alleged breach of the loan contract, the amount owed, and the lender’s intention to sell the property to recover the outstanding loan amount.

When you receive a foreclosure summons, it is essential not to dismiss it. The document outlines the deadlines for your response, typically within 20 to 30 days, depending on the specifics of your case. Failure to respond within the designated time frame might result in a default judgment in favor of the lender, leading to the foreclosure of your property.

How to Effectively Respond to a Foreclosure Summons South Florida 

You are not required to respond to a foreclosure summons at all in Florida. You cannot be arrested or charged with a civil offense because of your failure to do so. However, not responding to a foreclosure summons is a major mistake. What happens if you ignore the foreclosure summons in Florida? You will almost certainly lose your case in default. The mortgage company will show up at the court and get a default judgment that allows them to take (and sell) your home. You will miss out on any opportunity to raise a defense. Exercise your right to respond to a foreclosure summons. How do you do so effectively? Keep the following things in mind: 

  • Hire a Florida Foreclosure Defense Attorney: Given the complexity of foreclosure laws, an experienced Florida foreclosure defense attorney can provide invaluable assistance. They can help you navigate the process, protect your rights, and possibly negotiate with your lender.
  • Draft an Answer: Your answer is your formal response to the summons. It should address each allegation in the complaint, confirming, denying, or stating you lack enough information to admit or deny each claim.
  • Raise all Applicable Foreclosure Defenses: If applicable, your answer should include any defenses you may have to the foreclosure, such as the lender not following proper procedures or violating consumer protection laws. What foreclosure defenses are viable? It depends on the specific situation. A Florida foreclosure defense lawyer can help you evaluate and raise every possible defense. 
  • File Your Answer With the Court: You must file your answer with the court before the deadline and provide a copy to the lender’s attorney. Ensure it is done on time to avoid an automatic win for the lender. If your answer to a foreclosure summons is not filed in a timely manner, then it is effectively the equivalent of not responding at all. 

What to Know About Deficiency Judgments in Florida’s Foreclosure Process

Another key point to know about Florida’s foreclosure laws is that it is a mortgage deficiency state. What does that mean for a financially-distressed homeowner who is facing a risk of foreclosure? If the sale of the foreclosed property does not cover the full amount owed on the mortgage, the lender can seek a deficiency judgment for the difference. Here is an example: 

  • Imagine that you owe $500,000 on a mortgage on a home in Miami-Dade County. The home is foreclosed on. The lender sells the property for the current market value—$475,000. You are $25,000 short of the loan. Under Florida law, the lender could then sue you for the remaining $25,000. This is known as a deficient amount. It can be a very big factor in many foreclosure cases in Florida, especially for those who are significantly underwater in their home.  

How does the deficiency judgment risk relate to the initial foreclosure summons? If you ignore a foreclosure summons and fail to defend yourself in court, the lender may obtain a default judgment, resulting in the loss of your home. Beyond that, without your presence in court, you lose the opportunity to challenge the deficiency judgment. Defending your home and defending yourself against a deficiency judgment are all part of the process. 

Contact Our Florida Foreclosure Defense Attorney Today

At Jacqueline A. Salcines, PA, our Florida foreclosure defense lawyer fights aggressively to help people save their homes. If you have any questions about responding to a foreclosure summons, we are more than ready to help. Get in touch with us by phone at 305-669-5280 or contact us online for your completely private case review. Our law firm provides foreclosure defense representation in Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, and all across South Florida. 

Foreclosures are once again on the rise. According to a report from Bloomberg, the nationwide mortgage foreclosure rate jumped 22% in the first quarter of 2023. Notably, South Florida has a higher foreclosure rate than the national average. Facing foreclosure on your home is stressful, frustrating, and intimidating. The good news is that you are not without options. 

Every homeowner in Florida has a right to defend their property against a foreclosure. A number of different foreclosure defense strategies are available—you need to be ready to explore every available option. In this article, our Coral Gables foreclosure defense lawyer provides an in depth guide to the strategies that you can use to defend your home in Florida. 

You Have the Right to Defend Your Home Against Foreclosure: An Overview of Florida Law

As a starting point, homeowners should have an understanding of how the foreclosure process works in Florida. While there are some federal mortgage regulations in place, there are also significant state-to-state variations in foreclosure laws. Here is a list of some of the most important things that financially-distressed homeowners need to know about Florida’s foreclosure laws: 

  • Federal Law Generally Sets a 120-Day Timeline: Federal law sets the general timeline for most residential mortgage foreclosures in Florida. With few exceptions, there is a 120-day timeline before a lender can initiate foreclosure. The clock starts after the first missed mortgage payment. The 120-day period is designed to grant financially distressed homeowners ample time to resolve their issues or explore alternatives to avoid foreclosure, 
  • Homeowners Should Receive Proper Notices:  In Florida, homeowners must receive proper notices throughout the foreclosure process. The lender must send a Notice of Default (NOD) and a Notice of Acceleration, which outline the homeowner’s rights and the amount owed. Later in the process, the lender must provide Notice of Foreclosure Sale, stating the date and location of the foreclosure auction, giving homeowners a chance to take action. 
  • Florida is a Judicial Foreclosure State: Florida follows a judicial foreclosure process, which means that lenders must file a lawsuit in court to initiate foreclosure proceedings. Once the lender obtains a final judgment, a foreclosure sale can be scheduled. Not all U.S. states are judicial foreclosure jurisdictions. As a general rule, the foreclosure process takes longer in states that require judicial foreclosure. 
  • Florida Allows Deficiency Judgments: All homeowners navigating the foreclosure process should understand that Florida is one of the state’s that allows lenders to pursue deficiency judgments. After a foreclosure sale in Florida, the lender can seek a deficiency judgment against the homeowner if the proceeds from the sale are insufficient to cover the outstanding mortgage balance.

Understanding the Most Common Foreclosure Defense Strategies

Foreclosure Defense Strategy #1: Go After the Validity of the Mortgage or Conduct of Lender

Challenging the validity of the mortgage or the conduct of the lender is a common foreclosure defense strategy. Homeowners can scrutinize the loan documents for any errors, any material misrepresentations, or any type of fraudulent or otherwise legally improper practices by the original lender, a mortgage servicer, or the company that currently owns the mortgage. 

All homeowners should be ready to work with an experienced South Florida foreclosure defense lawyer who can thoroughly investigate whether the lender followed proper procedures and complied with all relevant state and federal laws during the loan origination, loan servicing, and the foreclosure process itself. 

If any violations or discrepancies are discovered, you may be able to defend your home against a foreclosure. These are highly fact-specific legal matters. In some cases, homeowners can use improper conduct on the part of a lender or mortgage servicing company to negotiate an outcome that allows them to save their home. In other cases, the company initiating the foreclosure may not even actually be the rightful owner of the loan. 

Foreclosure Defense Strategy #2: Explore Options for a Loan Modification 

Another foreclosure defense strategy is to explore options for a loan modification. A loan modification involves changing the terms of the mortgage, such as reducing the interest rate, extending the loan term, or adding any missed payments to the principal balance. It is important to emphasize that loan modifications are not available in every case. That being said, they are always a strategy that should be explored for foreclosure defense. 

A well-tailored loan modification can halt the foreclosure process. It can alter the terms of the loan, make monthly payments more manageable for homeowners, and prevent foreclosure. To qualify for a loan modification, homeowners must demonstrate financial hardship and provide documentation proving their ability to make the new, adjusted payments. Working with a Florida foreclosure defense lawyer is a must. An attorney can improve your chances for getting a modification. 

Foreclosure Defense Strategy #3: Buy Time and File for Bankruptcy Protection

Filing for bankruptcy protection is another foreclosure defense strategy that can help homeowners buy time and possibly save their property. When a homeowner files for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is issued, which temporarily halts all collection activities, including foreclosure. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows homeowners to restructure their debts and create a repayment plan to catch up on missed mortgage payments over a period of three to five years. 

Of course, a personal bankruptcy filing is certainly not the right path forward in every situation. Still, it is an approach that may be viable for some homeowners in Florida—especially those who are facing overall financial challenges. A bankruptcy filing could delay the foreclosure process, allow a person to remain in their home, and provide them with an opportunity to reorganize their finances and address their financial challenges. 

Speak to Our Florida Foreclosure Defense Lawyer for Immediate Help 

At Jacqueline A. Salcines, PA, our Florida foreclosure defense lawyer is an experienced, effective advocate for homeowners. If you have any specific questions or concerns about foreclosure defense strategies, we can help. Call us at 305-669-5280 or connect with us online to schedule your fully private case review. From our office in Coral Gables, we provide foreclosure defense representation to homeowners in Miami-Dade County and throughout the surrounding area in Southeast Florida. 



Interest rates on the Making Home Affordable mortgage loan modifications have risen, where some borrowers are now facing hikes of 1% or 2%. A mortgage that was modified in 2009 under the Making Home Affordable Program and had a fixed interest rate of 2% in 2015, may now be at 3 or 4 % in 2017. With limited opportunities to refinance due to credit reporting problems due to the derogatory information for a mortgage loan default, borrowers are up against the wall. They may not have sufficient equity or credit rating to refinance and may not have equity to sell.  So what does a borrower do?

While the  Making Homes Affordable Program may have expired to submit a loan modification (the last date for submission was December 30, 2016 and has not been extended by the Trump or Obama Administration) programs still exist for loans modification if your mortgage is  owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Veteran Affairs or the USDA.  Loan Modification Programs include interest rate reductions and often principal forgiveness.  Even if your loan is not Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, your lender may still be willing to work with you.  Just not a loan modification under the Making Home Affordable Program unless it gets extended.

Lenders continue to be understandable and are allowing homeowners to enter into loan modifications and modify their mortgage and loans under these programs that continue to exist into 2017.

If you are facing a mortgage foreclosure due to inability to pay or a mortgage loan default, there are options for a loan modification.

At the Law Offices of Jacqueline A. Salcines, P.A., our lead real estate attorney brings over 17 years experience in the foreclosure, mortgage and real estate field as well as 22 in the accounting field. Ms. Salcines has been helping homeowners in foreclosure for over 10 years and is available by email to answer all your questions and concerns, without ever charging a consultation fee.

Call us today to set up an appointment to discuss your purchase or sale. We are here for you!

Main office 305 | 669 | 5280. Or email the attorney directly:


Jacqueline A. Salcines

Jacqueline A. Salcines

TEL. 305 669 5280