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Unlocking Opportunities: A Strategic Guide to Navigating Foreclosure Challenges

by | Dec 12, 2023



[00:00:00] BOCU AI Voice: Welcome to Banking on Credit Unions, your leading law podcast dedicated to credit union matters. Hosted by Jim Sorensen from the elite team at SVL Law, where they specialize in collections, bankruptcy, and foreclosure law designed for credit unions. From landmark cases to innovative legal strategies, Banking on Credit Unions podcast is here to shine a light on the legal pathways impacting your credit union.

[00:00:26] If you want to uncover legal insights designed just for you, listen and join the conversation. Let’s get started.

[00:00:32] Jim: I want to welcome everyone to the Banking on Credit Unions podcast. This is episode 4, and today, Steve is joining me. Steve, go ahead and introduce yourself.

[00:00:43] Steve: Yeah, thank you, Jim. Stephen Orsillo is my name. One of the attorney’s partners here at the Sorenson Van Leuven Law Firm. I head up the foreclosure practice area in the law firm also dabble in other areas with Jim and everyone else as well But my primary focus at the firm is foreclosures.

[00:00:59] Jim: [00:01:00] Yeah today. We’re gonna be talking about foreclosures.

[00:01:03] Steve: Always exciting.

[00:01:04] Jim: Yeah. So Steve, how long have you been working in the area of foreclosures representing lenders in the foreclosure arena?

[00:01:12] Steve: So I got into this back in 2011, 2012 cut my teeth and some big mortgage foreclosures. We all remember the time back when this started 08, 09, big flood of foreclosures came on the scene for different reasons. And so I was thrust into that and at a different firm.

[00:01:28] Worked there a few years, and then I’ve been with with you and everyone else ever since.

[00:01:33] Jim: Okay. So in that time period you’ve seen the busy seasons and the laws and the kind of the moratoriums of covid.

[00:01:41] Steve: Yes. I feel like at this point it’s been, I guess 10, 12 years. But yeah, I feel like I’ve seen it all At this point.

[00:01:46] You think about where things were back and think 2008, or let alone 2011, 2012, and how much the law has changed the process, the courts, everything has changed to adapt to, all these foreclosures that we saw and up and [00:02:00] down now, but yeah, it’s crazy how far they’ve come.

[00:02:02] Jim: So, before we get into kind of the main point of the topic, let me ask you this question.

[00:02:07] We get this question a lot. What are we seeing right now in foreclosures? Are we seeing a lot of them? Are we seeing not a lot of them?

[00:02:14] Steve: I don’t think we’re seeing a ton of them. I think, certainly when COVID happened, I think the first thought everyone had in the conversation I had with clients, and you probably heard it from them as well is, Oh man, you guys are going to be busy with the foreclosures.

[00:02:24] The delinquencies are going to tip up and all that, it hadn’t really happened. Things have remained steady. Maybe trending down a slight bit, especially they obviously dropped off with COVID and you couldn’t really do anything, but now they’ve picked up some, but it hasn’t been, too crazy deceased always continues to be a popular trend, but yeah, they’re holding steady at this point, I would say.

[00:02:43] Jim: When you reference deceased, we’re talking about where the borrower has died and no family member has probated the estate and the closure action begins.

[00:02:52] Steve: That’s correct. Yeah. Nobody’s really done anything and the credit unions left. Trying to figure out the next step in the process. Yeah.

[00:02:59] Jim: That seems to be [00:03:00] a lot of the foreclosures we see right now.

[00:03:03] Getting into the meat of our topic today. In all the years you’ve been doing foreclosures, all the years I’ve been doing foreclosures, we always seem to get the same question. If someone is new to foreclosures or someone comes from another state to Florida we get this question.

[00:03:20] What is that question, Steve, that we get?

[00:03:22] Steve: I think the common theme is why does it take so long, to complete a foreclosure, especially in Florida. Obviously you are very familiar with the Georgia process. Totally different than Florida. But yeah, a common thing in Florida is why does it take so long to complete this process?

[00:03:35] Jim: Yeah, that is a common question. And I think it’s surprising to some people who aren’t familiar with it or who knew to it, how long it does take. So let’s talk about that. Let’s delve into that topic. What obviously we can always give the lawyer answer of it depends or the Jim answers his clients.

[00:03:55] Like to throw out in our point too, but what is it that [00:04:00] causes the foreclosures to take so long in Florida?

[00:04:03] Steve: I think it’s you know, there’s several different factors that kind of you know, cause it to drag out as you may be thinking obviously we got to wait 120 days to file that’s across the board with the CFPB, and so obviously you’re waiting four months right there But then once you get the case started, you could be running an issue like we were talking about deceased borrowers, you know, the borrower has passed away.

[00:04:21] So now we got to bring in, heirs and that creates service issues. So a common theme is service issues. You have to find these people serve them with the summons and complaint. Some of these, especially heirs, how are you going to know where they live? You got to try to find them. Are they going to cooperate with service or they can answer the door and all those sorts of things.

[00:04:39] You have issues with court delays as a judge recently in Florida that’s, he’s setting hearings in the middle of next year, which is completely outside of our control, but that’s obviously going to add to the timeline, right? That we have to wait on the court to do things.

[00:04:52] Service is a common issue. Deceased borrowers always delay things out as well. And then there may be issues with clients and getting documents back and those sort of things.[00:05:00] Yeah, a host of things as well as just the process in general, you have to go through for a foreclosure in and of itself, even if everything’s humming along and you’re moving things you like, it still could take longer than you want.

[00:05:10] Yeah, those are the.

[00:05:11] Jim: So what is the kind of minimum timeframe if someone. We’re to send us the file and we get the foreclosure referral right around 120 days delinquent from that point moving forward. What’s the minimum time it’s going to take to get to a foreclosure sale and get the foreclosure sale completed?

[00:05:31] Steve: I would say seven to eight months, maybe a year, it can just depend and another factor in there too, that dimension is obviously they can get an attorney and that could really drag it out, but uncontested, I think you’re looking, seven, eight months, maybe a year to get the title or the foreclosure sale complete.

[00:05:46] And for you to be done with the whole process.

[00:05:48] Jim: And some of that is going to depend on the County we’re in, right?

[00:05:51] Steve: Correct. Yeah. Obviously bigger counties, they may be moving a little slower, may take a little longer, smaller counties, same thing, maybe they’re not as sophisticated enough with it,[00:06:00] it could be a little lagging there as well, but yeah.

[00:06:03] Jim: One of the things that I know that I think sometimes people don’t understand is the fact that a foreclosure does have to go to a final hearing of some sort. Yeah. And that’s not true in a lot of the other areas of practice we have when we’re talking about a collection case or we’re talking about other types of matters, a lot of times you can get a default judgment, but in a foreclosure, default judgment is not an option, is it?

[00:06:30] Steve: No, you can’t do it. You got to go to, at a bare minimum, a summary judgment hearing, which they amended the rule recently. So now you got to wait 40 days from the time you file your motion and set a hearing before you can have that final hearing.

[00:06:41] So right there, 40 more days is dragging out the process, but yeah, you got to go through. And then again, like I was saying, it depends on the judge’s availability. Like I was saying, there’s a judge. In Florida recently reached out to set a final hearing and they’re sitting in the middle of 2024. We’re just starting last quarter of 2023.

[00:06:57] Court availability in terms of hearing dates, could [00:07:00] obviously be an issue that, can be a reason why it is taking so long.

[00:07:03] Jim: Yeah, and that happens, obviously, not just in foreclosures. We have a contested collections case. And the hearing was just set and it’s July of 2024.

[00:07:12] And I went to the staff and said, is that right? And they said, yep, that’s the, that’s what the judge is telling us. That’s the next available date. And of course, clients get frustrated with that. And I understand that, but we have no control over the judge’s calendar.

[00:07:27] Steve: And especially if they have an attorney on the other side, you have to coordinate that hearing.

[00:07:30] You can’t just, how they set it. And so you send them a list of hearing dates in an effort to coordinate, what are they going to do? Give me the last available date. So again, that’s out of our control. So it’s unfortunate, some people game the system. That’s, the unfortunate part of it.

[00:07:42] Jim: Yeah. Let’s talk about gaming the system because I do think that’s a common issue that we see in the foreclosure arena. And maybe not as much now as we did back during the housing crisis. What are some of the delay tactics that we see that debtors borrowers do, [00:08:00] whether they’re pro se or whether they have an attorney, whatever.

[00:08:02] What are some of those delay tactics that we see that kind of slow the process down?

[00:08:07] Steve: Yeah their greatest offense, honestly, is just the ability to delay the proceedings and buy their client as much time in the property as they possibly can. But, they’re going to start off with a motion for extension of time.

[00:08:17] And they’re going to need, 30 more days to file a response. And they really don’t need 30 days. They just want 30 more days to buy time. Then they’re going to file a motion to dismiss. And you’re gonna have to set a hearing and that motion is going to be filed at the end of that 30 day deadline.

[00:08:29] So now we’ve got to deal with the motion to dismiss, probably completely baseless, but we still have to have a hearing, address it, sometimes they’ll reach out right before the hearing and say, Hey, we’ll just agree to deny the motion, can you give me 20 Now we got to address an answer and that’s where they bring in affirmative defenses and they start pleading You know every affirmative defense under the Sun typically not properly pled, right?

[00:08:51] They’re not you need to plead a legal defense and cite to some facts and support usually they’ll just put some single sentence conclusions in there I got to file a motion to strike, [00:09:00] set a hearing, right? And you got to set a hearing, right? So now we got to deal with the judge and what’s their availability.

[00:09:04] So now we’re just kicking the can farther and farther down the road. And that’s why a contested case, if you’re lucky, you can wrap it in a year, but it’s probably going to push closer to two years because of all those tactics. I talked about them in discovery as well. It could be another one.

[00:09:19] They have no intent, right? On seeing if there’s any sort of a valid defense there. They just, more thing to go forward and something else to delay. If they have a valid defense, usually they’ll set, actually set it out up front and then he go, okay, client, let’s talk about this.

[00:09:31] You may have an issue here, but if they’re just going through these steps, I mentioned all their attendance is generally just a thing.

[00:09:38] Jim: Yeah, that is the experience of lawyers like us. And I think for our clients, it’s frustrating because they don’t understand why the judges just don’t deal with it.

[00:09:49] Why can’t the judge see that this is all a delay and just cut through the madness? And the reality is it just doesn’t work that way. The judge has a ton of cases. They’re not going to look at it [00:10:00] until it’s properly brought before them. So a lot of times we have to set the hearing.

[00:10:04] And what’s frustrating, like you point out, is we set the hearing. And then we get to the hearing, and either the day before or at the hearing, they concede, yeah.

[00:10:12] Steve: Your complaint’s proper. Could be a month, two months out, yeah, let’s wait until 60 days from now, we’ll just, yeah, we’ll agree. Yeah, it’s frustrating.

[00:10:18] Jim: And then, of course, they ask for another 20 days to answer the complaint, or another 30 days. And the judge is going to give it to them anyways. So a lot of times what we’re trying to do is move this along. But if you’re good at figuring out how to delay these things, it’s very easy to delay these things.

[00:10:35] Steve: Yeah. Turn into an art form, that’s for sure.

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[00:10:55] Jim: So it has, and I remember back during the foreclosure crisis, there were certain [00:11:00] lawyers, we knew what they were gonna do. I could tell you the script of all the things they were gonna do to delay it.

[00:11:06] Steve: Probably had the same answer, same motion to dismiss in every case.

[00:11:12] Jim: It was, and they played the same tactics every time and most judges, they were just so overworked and they had such a huge caseload during the crisis that even though they knew that’s what these lawyers were doing, they didn’t have time to really police it or deal with it. And it just, and we continue to see that today.

[00:11:32] And it is frustrating. It’s frustrating to our clients. And it’s frustrating to us, because we want to see these things to conclusion as well.

[00:11:40] Steve: For sure. Nothing more we want than to help achieve the results they want as soon as possible, but, things get in the way and it’s frustrating.

[00:11:47] Jim: So let’s talk about service issues with the foreclosure. Foreclosures are a little different than some other lawsuits, what are some of the unique service issues or unique ways we can go about serving people in a foreclosure that’s maybe different [00:12:00] than a typical lawsuit?

[00:12:02] Steve: Yeah, unlike a collection case, credit card, whatever the case may be where you got to find the person for, personal service, hand them the summons or substitute service, someone in the household.

[00:12:11] We have to get everyone served in a foreclosure. We’re not just talking about, the borrower, the primary person that signed the loan, but we’re talking about people that hold junior liens. We’re talking about heirs of the borrower who passed away. We’re going to have to bring in all of their family members that may have an ownership interest in the property and serve them.

[00:12:26] And so now we’ve got to figure out where do they live? What if we run that new issue where they’re avoiding, which can happen in a collection case, right? We don’t know where they live. We don’t know where they work. They’re never home. They won’t answer the door. You have to move on to what’s called publication or constructive service.

[00:12:39] And so now we’ve got to get a notice of action issued by the clerk in the County where the foreclosure is happening. We have to run that in a local newspaper. It’s got to run for two consecutive weeks, and then whatever that first publication date is, they have 30 days in theory from that date to file an answer.

[00:12:53] So now we’ve got to wait, most defendants 20 days, file a response default. If they don’t, now we’ve got to wait an additional [00:13:00] 10 days plus, you can throw in an extra 5 per mail, 35 days in theory for an answer to be filed. So now we’re waiting even longer But just the process of finding the addresses attempting those addresses and then in the end if it doesn’t work out We got to publish obviously that adds on time and a little bit of expense as well.

[00:13:16] But yeah, so that can add to it

[00:13:19] Jim: what about the wrinkle of Serving like the united states. We see that a lot where there’s an IRS lien in property Doesn’t that delay and elongate the service?

[00:13:31] Steve: Everyone else, the most individuals or entities in Florida get 20 days by Florida law to file an answer to a complaint or else they can be defaulted.

[00:13:39] The state of Florida gives themselves 40 days. The United States government was kind enough to give themselves 60 days to file an answer to a case. And so, now we got to wait 60 days from the time we serve, the United States. And where are you going to see the United States is probably an IRS lien.

[00:13:54] They’ve recorded against the property for unpaid taxes. Maybe some sort of a mortgage they may have out there as well. [00:14:00] But now that’s obviously added, 60 days versus 20. So now you’re waiting much longer.

[00:14:04] Jim: Yeah. And these are all, every one of these adds another month, or more to the process.

[00:14:10] Steve: Exactly.

[00:14:11] Jim: What about the issue with deceased? You mentioned deceased earlier and I know deceased elongates this, but what’s the complication of when you have a deceased borrower that causes that foreclosure to go longer?

[00:14:24] Steve: Yeah. So the complication is the service part, like I’ve been mentioning on the known air. So anytime someone passes away, and we have to foreclose, we got to bring in people that have an ownership interest, which is the heirs of the bar, right? Their children, their spouse, grandchildren, whatever the case may be, depending on, their situation at the time they passed away. And we also have to name the unknown heirs.

[00:14:42] They’re unknown heirs, the unknown people out there that may have an interest. We have to serve them. Obviously, we have no person to serve. So now we got to publish like I was talking about. We got to wait 30 days on the publication. We also have to appoint a guardian item to represent their interest. Get a court order appointing them.

[00:14:59] The guardian will [00:15:00] try to make contact with some areas and then file a report and they’ll file an answer. So obviously you’re waiting on that as well, but it’s trying to find those areas and find out where they live and some of them live in other states. So we still got to go find a server up in New York or Montana or California, wherever they are.

[00:15:14] And first make an attempt because before you can publish, you have to show that you made a diligent attempt to serve that individual. So you can’t just go, I don’t really want to spend the time and expense hunting, Joe Smith down. Let’s just go ahead and publish. No, you have to show through an affidavit that you made a diligent attempt to find them.

[00:15:31] And then you got to publish on these people if you can’t find them. And I have a case right now, I think there’s, I think the bar had 10 kids that we found. So that’s 10 additional defendants. You got a name, you got to find them half of them. You can’t find, so you got to publish. So I would say that’s, added on time right there to the process.

[00:15:48] Jim: And I think what clients don’t understand is this is a critical point in the foreclosure process. And, if service isn’t proper, even though the [00:16:00] foreclosure may go forward and the property may end up in the credit union’s hands, that whole thing can be unwound. And undone if service isn’t proper.

[00:16:09] Steve: Yeah, the parties with an ownership interest, so the heirs, the unowned heirs, those are essential. You can’t have a proper foreclosure if you don’t bring in the parties with an ownership interest. And if you get all the way to the end of this and you realize you left somebody out, like you’re saying, you’ve got to unwind this thing.

[00:16:22] We’ve got to set aside that judgment, that sale, we’ve got to go back, we’ve got to amend, we’ve got to name these parties and get them properly served if they weren’t properly served to begin with. And that’s really true of most defendants, but yeah, especially heirs and all that stuff.

[00:16:34] Jim: And I think it’s important that the clients understand that I was talking to someone about a month ago someone my son knows, and this is not a foreclosure we handled, it doesn’t involve one of our clients but this young man had gotten into the world of buying foreclosed properties and trying to flip them, and he and his partner had bought a property put about 40, 000 in it, [00:17:00] and and we’re had it listed for sale.

[00:17:03] And lo and behold, the firm in the foreclosure missed an heir, did not do proper due diligence. The heir came forward and the heir was able to file a proceeding challenging the foreclosure and the judge set the sale aside and these people now are out there 40, 000 and he was talking to me about, what could he do?

[00:17:25] Can he go sue the law firm that made the mistake? And the problem is, He can’t. Now their client can, right? If their client is out of money, their client would have a claim but not some third party down the road. So these are important. And when they do get set aside, like that example, it’s a pain for everybody.

[00:17:44] Because now the lender’s having to take the property back. They’re having to unwind the transaction on their book. They thought they got rid of this property and got paid in full, and that’s not the case. And now they’ve got another heir they’ve got to deal with. And it may be that the heir is [00:18:00] going to pay them off, and at the end, the financial institution is going to be fine, but that’s never a fun place to be in as the lawyer.

[00:18:08] And the clients aren’t happy this is one of those things that you have to dot the I’s. You have to cross the T’s. And if you don’t, it could come back and be a haunting profit.

[00:18:18] Steve: It could take even longer. Yeah. So yeah, I always want to do our due diligence up front, make sure we got the right parties in there.

[00:18:23] And if it takes a little longer. , unfortunately, that’s part of the process, but you want to get it right up front versus, like you’re saying, coming back a year down the road, because service, in theory could be challenging at any point.

[00:18:32] Jim: Hey, you mentioned guardian ad litem and having one appointed. Who serves as a guardian ad litem? How does that work?

[00:18:39] Steve: We get an attorney to serve as a guardian ad litem. We file a petition and have him appointed and then You make an effort to locate some of the errors and try to make contact with them and then they’ll file a report if he’s found some additional information, bringing that to light in terms of who those errors are.

[00:18:55] But generally, we’re appointing an attorney to act as a light and they’ll file an answer and represent them [00:19:00] throughout the rest of the case.

[00:19:01] And this is an independent attorney, not someone with our firm or with the firm that’s doing the foreclosure. The Independent, unrelated attorney that has no sort of relationship, yeah, with our firm. Totally independent attorney.

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[00:19:32] Jim: Now, what about title issues? Do title issues sometimes delay or slow up foreclosure?

[00:19:37] Steve: Title issues certainly can. You run into issues where the mortgage needs to be reformed because the legal is wrong or the deed perhaps is wrong and you got to go back and reform that.

[00:19:46] There may be some other superior liens out there and things you got to address. And so if you got to, one most credit unions, especially in first, where you just probably have a lender’s policies, we can file a claim over the issues, but that takes time to get, talking about taking time.

[00:19:59] Some of [00:20:00] these title insurers can take a while to review your claim and respond. And in some situations you can’t move forward until you get it addressed. You don’t want to, right? You don’t want to get halfway down the road and go. Oh, great. We got to go back and amend to include this additional account or the title company or something like that.

[00:20:14] Yeah, title issues can certainly add on to it as well.

[00:20:20] Jim: Yeah, and I think that’s one that sometimes the client doesn’t understand, the title issue arises and that we’re dealing with the title company and they’re like let’s just continue on with the foreclosure. And the problem is that if we don’t give the title.

[00:20:34] Company, our title insurer, an opportunity to look at it, investigate it, and respond, we could lose our coverage. You just have to wait and obviously the insurance companies never move as fast as we want them to, or the client wants them, and but it can create delays.

[00:20:51] And if at that point you’ve got to amend the complaint or add a party in now begin it’s it’s further delays. It always [00:21:00] seems like when we see more title issues, when it follows a time period where mortgage lending was on fire. And so because the lenders were doing a bunch of mortgage loans and the closing companies were handling a bunch of closings, that Obviously, that volume leads to more mistakes and things get overlooked and then in the fallout of that, and I remember that during the foreclosure crisis in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, we were seeing mortgages from that time period of the five of six of seven.

[00:21:35] Where everybody was refinancing. Everybody was buying bigger homes. And so these title companies were overwhelmed. They were maybe short staff. They were trying to fit as many closings as they could in a day. And so you see more errors.

[00:21:48] Steve: Missing lanes. Yeah. Leases are all wrong. Oh yeah. All sorts of problems.

[00:21:53] Jim: Exactly. And then that complicates itself in the foreclosure crisis. It will be interesting if [00:22:00] foreclosures were to pick up, are we going to see that same thing for the last couple of years where the real estate market has really been on fire and you’ve seen more lending, more

[00:22:10] Steve: mortgages.

[00:22:12] Jim: So that’ll be interesting to see what happens.

[00:22:16] We’ve talked about, a lot of the delays that happened, but I think there’s one delay we haven’t talked about yet, which is, I think, maybe even the biggest frustration to our clients. And that’s the word bankruptcy.

[00:22:30] Steve: Yeah.

[00:22:31] Jim: How does bankruptcy interact with all of this to cause delays?

[00:22:36] Steve: If all their tactics throughout the case, weren’t enough to slow down, generally on the eve of foreclosure sale we finally get to that point, they file a bankruptcy.

[00:22:46] Obviously, that puts a stay in place, and now we got to cancel that foreclosure sale. Can’t move forward in the foreclosure if there’s a bankruptcy stay in place, so we got to cancel that sale and put our case on hold until we can get relief from the states. Now, we got to go into the bankruptcy. Yeah, [00:23:00] can we follow much early from stay?

[00:23:01] What’s the status over there? And then obviously that delays the foreclosure even more in terms of waiting on that to resolve itself.

[00:23:07] Jim: Yeah. And then even if you get a motion to lift stay filed, right away and you get your hearing within 30 days and the judge grants it you now have to go back into state court and not start over from the beginning, but you have to file a motion to reset the sale.

[00:23:29] There’s going to be a hearing. So you got to get in a hearing what mentioned.

[00:23:32] Steve: And that’s going to be, you got to get an order resetting the sale. And that’s sales obviously can’t be, sales can’t be any sooner generally than about 25, 30 days. Most sales, we’re asking for 30 to 45, sometimes 60 days.

[00:23:44] So now you’re waiting two months, maybe longer, from the point you get the order, that you’re actually going to end the sale. So yeah, you’re waiting even that much longer, so

[00:23:51] for sure.

[00:23:52] Jim: I remember, again, going back to the housing crisis, and I remember having situations like that where the borrower would file [00:24:00] bankruptcy on the eve of a foreclosure sale.

[00:24:02] Client thought they had gotten to the end, only to be delayed. We go into court, but now we go into bankruptcy court. We get the order lifting the stay in a relatively quick time period. And we go to set a hearing to reset the sale and, the judge doesn’t have any availability for four months.

[00:24:20] And then you get in front of the judge and then the judge says, oh the court can’t set a sale for another 120 days because the clerk’s office is backed up. So by that act alone, they bought at least a month plus another couple of months plus another couple of months in some cases. We were seeing it by a year back then now I don’t know that it’s that extreme now, but we just had this happen with our foreclosure in our office, right earlier this week.

[00:24:49] Steve: Yeah, finally, delays court delays court delays kept canceling our hearings couldn’t get a final hearing set Finally do get it resolved sell date, 45 days will say great if we get to the sale and [00:25:00] of course What’s happens the day before he files in a chapter seven bankruptcy.

[00:25:03] So now sales canceled, we’re dealing with that. And then once we get that, I was going to go back to the court and get another sale date. So yeah it’s, it can take a while and be a frustrating process, but that’s the way the system works.

[00:25:15] Jim: Yeah. Yeah. And then at the end, you get the sale complete and you get the certificate of title in hand, and then you go to the property, and there’s people in the property.

[00:25:28] Steve: Yeah, some tenants in there. Just, yeah, they don’t want to leave, the borrower’s maybe still in there. Now, obviously, you can’t do a self help eviction in Florida and just kick them out, so now we gotta go back to the court. We gotta file a motion, ask for the writ of possession, get the sheriff involved, get them back out there to serve, and so obviously that could take, depending on the judge and the hearings and the sheriff especially.

[00:25:48] We’re seeing some delays with sheriff’s offices just having time to go out and serve writs for us, so that could be another month or two before you can finally get the locks change and totally be done with it.

[00:25:58] Jim: Yeah, so [00:26:00] just I think that’s the hard part for clients is it’s a delay after delay, and it’s you feel like you’re taking two steps forward, one step back, two steps, eventually you’re going to get to the end, but it just seems like it’s always just out of reach and I know, man, it is that way and clients need to understand that.

[00:26:20] Now let’s, as we come to an end here for today and talking about this issue Let’s talk about what can the client do to help keep the case moving to avoid delays? I know there’s some of these delays don’t involve the clients at all, but what are some of the things you’ve seen in your experience where the clients don’t help keep the case moving?

[00:26:43] Steve: It happens occasionally, I think. If the client can remain responsive to our requests and our inquiries and then if they can also make sure they got their ducks in a row as well. A common one can be the original note. We always have to produce the original note before a final hearing in the foreclosure.

[00:26:58] And now we got a required [00:27:00] to file a certification up front showing we have the note. And making sure the client takes this time, go pull that physical original out of the safe, make sure you actually have it in your possession, sign that certification, take it back in a safe place.

[00:27:11] Because I’ve had several cases where they say we have the original, they sign the certification, we get to the final stage and they go, wait a minute, we don’t have the original. What do we need to do? We have to go back, amend the complaint, that’s more time, we’ve got to wait on answers to be amended, I’ve got to go back, we’ve got to basically essentially restart the whole process.

[00:27:27] If you can make sure that you have the original up front or if you don’t, let us know up front and we can address that. And then obviously making sure, that we get the information we need and the affidavits and all those things back timely can certainly help, because some of these judges, could be, depending on when you reach out for the hearing date, it could be, if I reach out to them today, they may not be hearing in 30 days, but if I wait a couple of days, that hearing could be gone, and I could be looking at three months from now.

[00:27:49] The quicker we can move the process along and control it on our end, we may have a more favorable outcome, when it comes to getting hearing dates and stuff. So I think just remaining responsive and ensuring that, you actually have the note in [00:28:00] your possession, those things can certainly help.

[00:28:03] Jim: And then finally, what do we do in our office that maybe is different than other offices? What do we do to try to, keep these cases moving as best as we can?

[00:28:13] Steve: Yeah, we’ve always, so we have a tasking calendaring system where we always have these things right up there to make sure that we’re tracking and following, we’re diligently following up with the client and the courts in terms of, getting hearing dates.

[00:28:25] As I said, sometimes some offices may lag and that could cost you time on the hearing dates. So we’re As diligent as we can be in terms of following up on hearing dates and preparing documents and keeping the cases moving.

[00:28:37] Jim: Yeah, you and I have seen, and we’ve been around enough to see where we’re in court on these foreclosure dockets.

[00:28:43] And lawyers show up unprepared, they don’t have. The necessary paperwork.

[00:28:48] Steve: They don’t know what’s going on.

[00:28:49] Jim: Or they just don’t show up at all and the case gets dismissed. That blows my mind and I can’t imagine I cannot imagine how that happens [00:29:00] and I’ve seen that over and over again.

[00:29:02] I remember being in court where a judge was talking to a lawyer and we’ve continued this three times. And every time you have a different excuse and he dismisses the case because he’s done with it and again, that wasn’t our file. That was another law firm. Those things obviously cause delays and those are things lawyers can control.

[00:29:23] And what was amazing was back during that hell housing crisis. I think the average time period to close in Florida was like it was somewhere between 3 and 4 years and, that was the average across all cases. But you would see these law firms, some of them, that are well known in the state.

[00:29:41] Where they were on their fourth year of a case and they weren’t anywhere near closing it out. And you’re like, how can that be? And it just happens. Obviously, we could spend time talking about all sorts of stories on this issue.

[00:29:55] But what we wanted to do today was really educate people [00:30:00] about the foreclosure process in Florida, the delays that happen, and hopefully this gives everyone some more insight into that.

[00:30:07] Hopefully you found this content helpful and informative. If you did, we’d ask that you rate our show and or subscribe to our show. That helps us out. And we appreciate that. If you want more information on our firm, you can get that from our website, If you want back episodes of our podcast or more information on the podcast, you can go to the website as well forward slash podcast.

[00:30:35] So that’s, and there’s information there as well. Steve, thank you for joining me today. And for all of you out there, I hope you join us next time on the Banking on Credit Unions podcast.

[00:30:51] Narrator: Thanks for joining us this week on Banking on Credit Unions. Make sure to visit our website [00:31:00] where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, Spotify or via RSS so you’ll never miss a show. While you’re at it, if you found value in this show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes.

[00:31:15] Or if you’d simply tell a friend about the show, that would help us out too. When it comes to credit union law, the Sorensen Van Leuven Law Firm has you covered. Reach out to us at because every credit union deserves top legal representation. Be sure to tune in next week for our next episode.


Welcome to the Banking on Credit Unions podcast, hosted by Attorney Jim Sorensen with this week’s special co-host Attorney Stephen Orsillo. In this episode, our legal experts at Sorenson Van Leuven Law Firm delve into the complex world of foreclosure.

Join the conversation as they examine the lengthy timelines endemic to Florida foreclosure proceedings, mapping out causes for delays ranging from serving heirs to title issues and bankruptcy filings. And later in the conversation, the attorneys outline proactive solutions that credit unions can employ to streamline cases, stressing the importance of due diligence in confirming proper mortgage note possession.

With decades of combined experience between Attorneys Jim and Stephen, they offer a detailed analysis on how law firms can do better to increase efficiency.

If you’re a credit union in Florida, it’s crucial to understand how these laws on foreclosures can impact your operations. Stay informed and listen to the full episode of Banking on Credit Unions and sign up for the Sorenson Van Leuven Law Firm’s mailing list to receive quarterly updates and valuable content. By staying ahead of the curve, you can effectively navigate the legal pathways impacting your credit union.

Other subjects we covered on the show:

  • Deciphering Florida’s winding foreclosure landscape – Discover the minimum timeframes and major milestones you can expect when foreclosing in this complex state.
  • Serving up legal lessons on proper notice – Get schooled on the special service requirements in foreclosures and how to avoid critical pitfalls.
  • Tales of deception: How sneaky homeowners abuse delays – Hear outrageous firsthand accounts of the deception tactics waiting at every corner to drag out cases.
  • What COVID hath wrought: A tidal wave of delays – Unpack the lasting rippling effects of pandemic-induced slowdowns still swamping the courts.
  • Secrets from foreclosure masters: Pro tips for speedier cases – Tap into insider techniques the experts use to keep the legal wheels turning and prevent stagnation.
  • When past-due estates inherit problems: Strategies for deceased debtors – Learn specialized approaches for foreclosing when no one pays the debts of the dead.


You can check out the full episode and subscribe at

If you want to know more about the SVL Law Team, reach out at

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