You have 20 days from date of receipt to file an answer or other motion or pleading with the court or else the plaintiff (bank) will request a default summary judgment. It is definitely in your interest to answer the complaint, even if it is just to request an enlargement of time in which to make a more substantive response. If you fail to respond, you will lose in a matter of weeks. How long after that until you are forced to vacate depends on your bank, their lawyers, and the case load in your county. It could be weeks or it could be months.
It is certainly in your interest to challenge the foreclosure. Many banks have lost the legal right to take action against the lender because of their practices of selling loans to various entities, particularly if your loan was granted between 2000 and 2008. If your loan is less than 3 years old, there are potential counterclaims that allow you to fight the foreclosure and have the bank pay the fees and costs for doing so.
Even if none of these apply, there is a chance that the bank sold your loan and failed to perform the proper legal steps needed to sue for foreclosure at this time. A good defense can allow you to remain in the home for many months without paying while you improve your financial situation, try to sell the unit, or modify the loan. It also protects any other assets they may, or may not, assert the right to go after.
Contact a foreclosure defense lawyer in your jurisdiction and bring him your loan papers and the complaint. Good luck!
The typical foreclosure that is not defended can happen in as little as 45-60 days. If you fight the foreclosure it could take many months and even years to resolve. While the foreclosure is going on you will not have to pay the monthly mortgage and can stay in the home. Often there are damages and counter claims that you can go after which may offset some or all of the mortgage. You should discuss your specifics with a Florida Foreclosure lawyer to see what your specific options are. Remember that you need to file a motion to enlarge time to respond or an answer or motion to dismiss within 20 days of being served with the law suit. If you need help or want more information just let us know or contact a Florida Foreclosure Lawyer
Yes they definitely can go after other assets of yours by getting a deficiency judgment, UNLESS you fight back successfully. I wrote a Legal Guide here on Avvo called "Deficiency Judgments in Florida" which explains in detail what this is and how it works. It can be found at:
As far as how long it takes to finish a foreclosure and take possession of the collateral, that depends greatly on what you do about it. If you do nothing, it can take as little as a few months start to finish. Palm Beach County now is holding foreclosure sales online in an attempt to make the process faster (is that nice of them or what ?). However, there is A LOT that you can do about it, by getting qualified legal help - meaning to obtain the services of a qualified foreclosure defense attorney. Most people faced with foreclosure have many defenses they have no idea they have, and only attorneys who really understand this area of law (which few do) can properly analyze what defenses exist and raise them correctly. We have some foreclosures we are defending where the mortgage company will NEVER be able to finish the foreclosure, because they did not go about it right, we called them on it, and now they are stuck.
Do yourself a favor and consult a QUALIFIED forclosure defense attorney to analyze all the issues that relate to your loan and your case and to see what can be done to gain you negotiating leverage.