Can I Sell My Home in Florida If It Is in Foreclosure? Understanding Your Options

Homeowners in Florida facing foreclosure often grapple with the uncertainty about whether they can sell their property while it is in the midst of the foreclosure process. Foreclosure is a legal procedure whereby a lender attempts to recover the balance of a loan from a borrower who has stopped making payments by forcing the sale of the asset used as the collateral for the loan.

In Florida, just as in many other states, the law does permit the sale of a home even after the foreclosure process has begun.

The window of opportunity for selling a Florida home in foreclosure remains open until the point of the foreclosure sale. During the pre-foreclosure period, homeowners may list their home on the market or pursue a short sale, which involves selling the home for less than the amount owed on the mortgage with the lender’s approval. This option can provide a way out for homeowners looking to avoid the full impact of a foreclosure on their credit history and relieve them of the property’s financial burden.

Understanding the intricacies of foreclosure laws in Florida is crucial since they can significantly influence the options available to homeowners. Homeowners are advised to act expediently and seek appropriate guidance to navigate the complexities of selling a home under such circumstances.


The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. The matters discussed in this article are complex, therefore, if you need legal advice for your specific situation, you should consult with a licensed attorney in your area.

The authors and contributors of this blog make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

Understanding Foreclosure in Florida

When a homeowner fails to pay their mortgage, foreclosure may occur as a legal means for the lender to reclaim property. In Florida, foreclosure is a judicial process, which requires court involvement and adherence to specific state statutes.

Foreclosure Process

The foreclosure process in Florida is initiated when a lender files a lawsuit against the borrower after defaulting on their mortgage payments. This lawsuit is known as a lis pendens. The borrower is served with a notice and given 20 days to respond. If the borrower fails to respond or contest the foreclosure, the lender may seek a default judgment from the court.

To proceed with the foreclosure, the lender must file a summary judgment motion after the response period. If granted, the court clerk sets a foreclosure sale date, typically within 20 to 35 days. The property is then auctioned to the highest bidder, and if it’s not sold for an amount that covers the outstanding debt, the lender may obtain a deficiency judgment against the borrower for the remaining amount owed.

Florida Statute and Judicial Involvement

Florida Statute mandates a pre-foreclosure period of 120 days, during which lenders must provide a notice of intent to the homeowner before moving forward with a lawsuit. This period allows homeowners the opportunity to explore alternatives like loan modifications, short sales, or repayment plans.

The judicial involvement is central in Florida’s foreclosure process. Importantly, the court oversees the process to ensure the rights of both the borrower and lender are respected. After the foreclosure sale, the title transfers to the new owner only after the court issues an order confirming the sale. If there are disputes over the sale or the process, the involved parties may present their concerns in court, where a judge will make determinations based on the evidence presented and applicable Florida law.

Legal Considerations and Rights

When facing foreclosure in Florida, homeowners should understand their legal rights and the potential outcomes after the sale, including the possibility of a deficiency judgment.

Homeowners’ Rights

In Florida, homeowners in foreclosure retain the right to occupy the property until the legal process concludes and the sale is finalized. They are entitled to receive notice of legal actions and can challenge the foreclosure in court. It’s important for homeowners to consult with an attorney for specific advice tailored to their situation. Legal representation can help in navigating the process, contesting the foreclosure, or negotiating with the lender.

Deficiency Judgments and Lawsuits

After a foreclosure sale, if the home sells for less than the amount owed to the lender, the lender may seek a deficiency judgment against the homeowner for the remaining balance. Florida law restricts the time frame within which a lender must file a lawsuit to obtain a deficiency judgment to one year from the date of sale or the date the clerk issues the certificate of sale. Homeowners should be aware that a successful deficiency judgment could lead to wage garnishment or bank account levies to satisfy the outstanding debt.

Consulting a lawyer early can provide strategies to deal with or even prevent legal action for a deficiency judgment.

Financial Implications

When a homeowner in Florida is facing foreclosure, it is imperative to understand the financial implications, specifically how mortgage arrangements and the costs associated with foreclosure can affect their financial standing.

Mortgage and Loan Modifications

When in foreclosure, homeowners may seek loan modifications to alter the terms of their mortgage. This can lead to changes in the interest rate, extension of the loan term, or different payment arrangements. Lenders might be willing to negotiate these modifications to avoid the lengthy foreclosure process. However, homeowners should note that these modifications could result in higher overall costs due to extended payment periods.

Costs of Foreclosure

The foreclosure process incurs numerous costs:

  • Late fees: Accumulate with each missed mortgage payment.
  • Interest: Continues to compound on the outstanding mortgage balance.
  • Attorneys’ fees: Legal representation during foreclosure can add significant costs.
  • Closing costs: If selling the home, standard closing costs apply, which include title search, recording fees, and potential real estate commission.

These costs can quickly add up, impacting the homeowner’s financial health and the final amount recouped from any sale of the property.

Options to Avoid Foreclosure

In Florida, homeowners facing foreclosure have multiple alternatives to retain their financial stability and possibly keep their homes. These options are designed to either prevent foreclosure or to alleviate the financial burden it may cause.

Short Sale and Deed in Lieu

short sale is when homeowners sell their property for less than the amount owed on the mortgage with the lender’s approval. This option is beneficial if the property value has declined below the mortgage balance, allowing them to avoid a potentially damaging foreclosure.

deed in lieu of foreclosure, on the other hand, entails voluntarily transferring property ownership to the lender in exchange for the cancellation of the mortgage debt, offering a graceful exit without the legal proceedings of foreclosure.

Forbearance and Repayment Plans

Forbearance allows homeowners to temporarily reduce or suspend mortgage payments. This provides immediate relief for those in financial distress, buying time to improve their financial situation without accruing the detrimental effects of a foreclosure. Lenders may also offer a repayment plan, which involves recalculating missed payments over an extended period, allowing homeowners to catch up in a structured and manageable way.

Bankruptcy as an Option

Filing for bankruptcy might be a viable option to stop foreclosure. Specifically, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can halt the foreclosure process and possibly provide a 3 to 5-year payment plan to catch up on arrears. With this strategy, they can reorganize their debts and create a practical plan to manage their finances.

Bankruptcy should be considered a serious legal step with long-term implications, requiring consultation with an attorney.

Selling Your Foreclosed Home

When an individual is facing foreclosure in Florida, they still have options to sell their home. They can make a cash offer, sell at an auction, or work with real estate agents to find a prospective buyer. Each approach has specific considerations regarding price, commissions, and the foreclosure sale process.

Making a Cash Offer

In some cases, companies will offer to buy homes for cash quickly, providing an immediate solution to homeowners in foreclosure. This option allows sellers to bypass traditional market delays but often at a lower price than market value. A cash offer can prevent the completion of the foreclosure process and may sometimes include a cash for keys arrangement, where the homeowner receives a sum in exchange for vacating the property promptly and leaving it in good condition.

Selling at Auction

Auctioning a foreclosed home is a standard aspect of the foreclosure sale process. If the property is sold at a foreclosure auction, it often goes to the highest bidder which might be the lender or a third party. Homeowners should understand that auctions typically result in a lower sale price compared to traditional market sales and there’s a time constraint to auction the house before the lender concludes the foreclosure.

Working with Real Estate Agents

Homeowners may choose to sell their foreclosed home through real estate agents who have expertise in navigating the complex process and timeline of foreclosure sales. Real estate agents can help reach a wider pool of prospective home buyers and potentially negotiate a better price. The seller must account for the commission fees agents receive upon the sale, which impacts the total profit from the sale. Agent representation can be particularly valuable in negotiating terms of the sale and navigating the legalities of ending the foreclosure process through a sale.

Communicating with Lenders and Negotiation

Selling a home in foreclosure in Florida involves critical interactions with lenders. The success of these discussions can significantly influence the potential to sell a house under foreclosure.

Early Stage Communication

When one is facing foreclosure in Florida, initiating communication with the bank at the earliest opportunity is paramount. They should inform the lender about their financial hardship and express a willingness to find solutions to avoid foreclosure. This step can include requesting a review of the loan documents to understand the foreclosure timeline and any grace periods that are offered. Banks typically prefer to avoid the lengthy foreclosure process and may be open to discussing alternatives. Homeowners should document all communications with the bank for future reference.

Negotiating Loss Mitigation

Loss mitigation refers to the range of strategies that lenders and homeowners can employ to avoid the foreclosure process. The homeowner should negotiate directly with the bank to explore these options. This can include the following:

  • Forbearance: An agreement to delay payments for a short period.
  • Loan Modification: Adjusting the terms of the loan to reduce the monthly payments.
  • Short Sale: Selling the property for less than the remaining mortgage balance with the lender’s approval.

The homeowner should prepare a detailed financial statement to demonstrate their financial situation during these negotiations. It’s also beneficial to understand the lender’s loss mitigation policies, as each bank or lender might have different criteria and options available. A resolution that minimizes financial loss for both the lender and the homeowner is the objective of loss mitigation negotiations.

Understanding the Timeline

When a homeowner in Florida fails to keep up with mortgage payments, a series of legal steps unfold which can lead to the foreclosure of their property. During this period, opportunities to sell the home are constrained by distinct phases, each with specific time limits.

Default and Demand Letter

Default occurs when a homeowner misses mortgage payments. Lenders typically issue a demand letter after a payment is 30 to 60 days overdue. This letter is a formal notice advising the homeowner of their default and typically offers a short period in which to settle the overdue payments and avoid further action.

From Complaint to Foreclosure Sale

Should the homeowner not address the default, the lender may file a complaint in county court, marking the judicial step into foreclosure. Once the complaint is filed, homeowners typically have 20 days to respond. If the court rules against the homeowner, a foreclosure sale is scheduled, which must occur at least 20 days but not more than 35 days post-judgment. At the sale, a certificate of sale is issued to the highest bidder. Eventually, if the sale is confirmed, a certificate of title is granted, which extinguishes most other interests in the property.

After the Foreclosure Sale

In Florida, even after a foreclosure sale, homeowners may have options to reclaim their property or transition smoothly into the next chapter of their housing situation.

Redemption Period

Statutory Right of Redemption: Florida homeowners may have the ability to redeem their property prior to the foreclosure sale. This involves paying off the mortgage debt in full, along with any additional costs, to reclaim ownership of their home. However, once the closing date of the foreclosure sale has passed, they typically do not have a post-sale redemption period.

Transitioning After Sale

Moving Forward: After the foreclosure sale, previous homeowners must vacate the property. It is then common for the new property owners, often investors or real estate solutions companies, to offer “cash for keys” as an incentive to leave the home in good condition. These entities usually strive to work with the communities, aiming to either refurbish and resell the home, or rent it out, thus addressing potential real estate and community revitalization needs.

Are you thinking of selling?

Based on the most recent data, the current state of the residential market is changing fast. If you are a homeowner and are considering selling your personal residence, vacation home or investment property, now may be the perfect time to do so while prices are still strong.

Our team has assisted sellers not only throughout the state of Florida, but in most major markets nationwide. We take a highly methodical and deliberate approach when working with or clients and have specific strategies to help get the best value for the property.

To learn more about how we help our clients get the best possible price for their property, visiting our web site or contact us at

Quantum Realty Advisors, Inc.

For more than 20 years Quantum has provided premium quality real estate services not only to traditional home buyers and sellers, but to business enterprises, trust and estate managers, asset management firms, charitable organizations and several of the world’s best know financial institutions.

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