If you are facing foreclosure, it's important to understand foreclosure attorneys' fees and how much a foreclosure lawyer costs.
Facing foreclosure can be a stressful and intimidating experience. And though there are several ways a foreclosure could play out, it can be tough to know what your options are, much less which option is best for you.
A foreclosure lawyer can help you navigate the process and help fight for the best possible outcome for you and your family. But if you are having trouble making your mortgage payments, you may be concerned about the cost of hiring a foreclosure lawyer.
This article addresses how much a foreclosure lawyer costs, as well as some options to consider if you are not able to afford an attorney.
Many foreclosure lawyers charge hourly rates for their time, though flat fee and monthly fee arrangements are also common. If the foreclosure lawyer charges an hourly rate or a monthly fee, they may also require an upfront retainer which is essentially a down payment for legal fees and expenses.
Hourly rates typically range anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour and the average attorney fees for foreclosure fall within that range, but the rates will vary greatly depending on market rates and the foreclosure lawyer’s level of expertise. As noted, foreclosure attorneys typically request a retainer from which your legal fees are debited. For instance, if you paid a $3,000 retainer and your foreclosure lawyer charged $150 per hour, your lawyer would deduct their foreclosure attorney fees from the retainer which would cover the first 20 hours of their services.
Flat fees, on the other hand, often range from $1,000 to $4,000. Flat fee arrangements are helpful for knowing exactly what your legal fees will be, but keep in mind that you might also be responsible for legal costs (separate from the lawyer’s fees) such as filing fees for filing documents with the court.
Monthly rates, meanwhile, involve a flat monthly fee (often between $400 and $1,000) that is charged every month that the foreclosure is pending.
There are pros and cons to each type of arrangement. For instance, flat fees give you the certainty of knowing what you will pay, but paying by the hour ensures you will only pay for the time your attorney actually spends on your case.
Understanding how a foreclosure lawyer would charge you is one of the key questions to ask when you first meet with a foreclosure lawyer. This allows you to know what to expect and evaluate which fee structure works best for you.
Unfortunately, separate from your own decisions of whether to hire a foreclosure lawyer, you may also be responsible for the bank’s foreclosure attorney’s fees if you are in default.
If you are facing foreclosure, separate from the past-due payments, you may be responsible for certain foreclosure fees and costs while in default (such as filing fees, service of process, and title search expenses). Attorney’s fees for the bank’s foreclosure lawyer are one of these fees, and are often a requirement within the mortgage.
There are no attorney fees necessary for reinstatement. Reinstatement involves catching up on past due payments in one lump sum payment. If you are financially able to, you can simply make the payment to your lender that is necessary to cure the default and reinstate your mortgage.
If you choose to hire a foreclosure lawyer to assist you, they will charge you in one of the ways outlined above (e.g., an hourly rate or fixed fee). But, in theory, there is no particular reason that attorney fees would be required to reinstate your mortgage.
If you choose to fight your foreclosure, hiring a foreclosure lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process and fight to keep you in your home can be a crucial step. But if you’re facing foreclosure, the reality is that you may not be well-situated to pay a foreclosure attorney's fees.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsors housing counseling agencies that can speak with you free of charge. Speaking with a HUD-certified counselor can be a great first step in assessing your situation.
Another option is to contact a Legal Aid office near you. Many Legal Aid offices handle foreclosure cases, so you should reach out to see whether you meet the income requirements to qualify for Legal Aid assistance.
Foreclosure lawyers can provide crucial assistance during a challenging time, but you'll want to have a sense of how much a foreclosure lawyer costs before hiring one.
There are three main ways that foreclosure lawyers charge for their services:
There are pros and cons to each of these billing methods, and the best arrangement for you will depend on your situation and priorities.
And if you are not in a position to pay attorneys' fees, know that there are other options available to you including assistance through your local Legal Aid office or HUD-certified counselors.