Many people's biggest fear when filing for bankruptcy lies in the possibility of losing their home. In these situations, it's important that you have a qualified foreclosure attorney who can fight your case on your behalf and help you to hold on to your property. However, choosing the right lawyer isn't always easy. To help you make an informed decision, here are the three keys to finding the right foreclosure attorney:
Find a Lawyer with Experience in Foreclosures
Foreclosure is a very sensitive area of real estate law, and as such it's important you find the right type of lawyer to represent you. While there are many lawyer who specialize entirely in foreclosure, you will typically come across many others with more general specializations such as real estate or bankruptcy. Whatever type of lawyer you choose, you must ensure they have a proven track record in handling complex foreclosure cases and delivering real results.
When choosing a foreclosure lawyer, make sure you find out how many cases your potential attorney has filed. Rather than gauging each individual by their years in the field, choosing an attorney on the basis of successful defenses will ensure you have the legal help you require.
When looking for an attorney, make sure you hold a number of one-to-one meetings to give yourself a chance to discuss your case before signing on the dotted line. Even if the first attorney you meet feels like a perfect fit, speak to a few others so that you can weigh up the pros and cons of each before coming to a decision.
Calculate the Cost
The cost of a foreclosure attorney depends entirely on your case. If you have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have a good chance of keeping your home, and so hiring a foreclosure attorney will be somewhat of a formality. However, if you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you face a lengthy legal battle to maintain possession of your property, and so your legal fees will be substantially higher.
While it is difficult to calculate an exact figure for your legal fees, it is possible to narrow your costs down to a small range. Typically, foreclosure attorneys will charge their fees in one of two ways:
As the name suggests, these are lump-sum costs that you pay in advance of your trial. Typical costs range from $1,500 to $4,000, depending on your situation and how much work the attorney is required to put into the case.
Choosing a foreclosure attorney that charges a flat fee at the front end of the case is a good way to place a limit on your fees; however, the flipside of this is that you may end up paying a large amount for a little work. Therefore, it's imperative that you analyze your situation in detail prior to hiring an attorney on a flat-fee basis.
If you would rather pay the exact amount for the legal service provided, consider hiring a foreclosure attorney who charges by the hour. Typical hourly rates for a foreclosure attorney ranges from $100 to several hundred dollars, although rates may be higher for particularly tricky cases or those with extremely tight deadlines.
Hiring an attorney that charges by the hour can be a great way to ensure you aren't paying over the odds for your legal support. However, it's important that you keep tabs on the overall cost to ensure your finances aren't spiraling out of control.
Verify Their Credentials
It's important that you don't just take your potential lawyer's word for their professionalism. In today's modern era, you have access to a number of different metrics that you can use to assess your attorney's credential. With the amount of information available at the click of the button, there is no excuse for not doing your homework!
The first thing to do is ask your potential lawyer for a list of references. In most cases, they will be happy to supply you with names and contact details of people who will back up their credentials. If they don't, tread carefully. Word-of-mouth is a potent marketing tool for attorneys, so if your prospective lawyer doesn't want to give details of references, they may be hiding something.
If you have chosen to use a bankruptcy attorney to defend your foreclosure case, you can use the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) to verify their claims. If your attorney's law firm is a member of this association, you can rest assured they will hold themselves to a high standard.