New Jersey Foreclosure: How Does it Work?

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Photo courtesy of Daniel O’neil

As we’ve talked about recently here on our blog, there have been a number of important changes to the New Jersey foreclosure rules and regulations. These changes are by and large due to loss of funding to the New Jersey State Foreclosure Mediation Program. Because of these changes, homeowners will now have less help as they are negotiating the foreclosure process, which can spell disaster for those who are unfamiliar with all of the legal jargon and potential legal complications along the way.

As always, we remain steadfast in our desire to offer as much support as possible to our clients who are in the midst of the foreclosure process, as well as those who have just begun to consider foreclosure as a realistic option. Today we hope to teach you a little bit about the basics of the New Jersey foreclosure timeline and what to expect along the way, should you decide that entering into foreclosure might just be the right decision for you and your finances.

Along with finding a highly qualified attorney with experience in the foreclosure arena, you must also stay up to speed on the foreclosure process and what will be expected of you for the best chance at getting the results that you desire. Although we will do whatever it takes to get you there, we also believe that the best client is an educated one.

Unfortunately, from start to finish, the foreclosure process seems to be taking longer and longer in New Jersey. This has been attributed to foreclosure prevention efforts and new servicing standards initiated by the nation’s five largest lenders. With that being said, it doesn’t always drag on endlessly, especially if you and your attorney take the right steps in a timely manner.

The entire New Jersey foreclosure process can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. For your ease of understanding, we’ve laid out the important steps involved in a typical New Jersey foreclosure:

  • Cease payment – Once you have decided to allow your home to go into foreclosure, you’ll stop making payments to your lender.
  • Notice of Intent to Foreclose (aka Lis Pendens) – Comparable to a warning, your lender or bank is required to send you a notice that they plan to go forward with a foreclosure on your property. They must show proof that you received this notice at least 30 days before they file a formal Complaint with the court.
  • Summons and Complaint – Once the Notice of Intent to Foreclose has been issued, your lender will typically file a Summons and Complaint 30 days later. What this means is that your lender has officially started the foreclosure process, in the court system, and you have been notified.
  • Answer to Complaint – Once the Foreclosure Complaint has been filed with the court, you have 30 days to respond to the Complaint with an ‘Answer.’
  • Sheriff’s Sale – If you do not contest the foreclosure, your home will be put up for Sheriff’s Sale within several months. Upon the sale of your home, you’ll be given an eviction notice.
  • Requesting a Stay for Mediation – If you’d prefer not to lose your home to foreclosure, you can request a stay, which means, “hold up a minute here I need help.” Previously, home owners could request this help up to and including the eve of their Sheriff’s Sale. That is no longer the case. New foreclosure rules state that you and your attorney must request a stay for mediation within two (2) months after the date of the filing of the Complaint.

Whether you think foreclosure is the right decision or if you’ve been forced into potentially losing your home against your wishes, please don’t go it alone. We can help you understand the entire process, and we’ve helped a multitude of clients get the foreclosure results that they needed and wanted. For more information, call our office today.

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New Jersey Foreclosure: Finding an Attorney

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Photo courtesy of Bradley Gordon

If there is a potential home foreclosure in your future, you are more than likely attempting to get a firm understanding of the foreclosure process in the State of New Jersey. First and foremost, you should find a highly qualified attorney who is not only licensed in the State of New Jersey, but also has significant experience dealing with banks and other lenders regarding foreclosure matters and loan negotiation.

When hiring an attorney to save your home, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Find out how many clients he’s been able to save from foreclosure. Look for an attorney who has a good track record when it comes to negotiating loan modifications, if that is your ultimate goal. As every case is unique, be sure to look for someone who has successfully handled foreclosure situations that are similar to yours. It may go without saying, but get face-to-face with the attorney you choose before signing a retainer agreement. The ideal person to handle your foreclosure will be well-versed in all of the foreclosure details in the state of New Jersey, and will have a personality that is compatible with your own.

The right attorney will be able to explain all of the details surrounding the New Jersey foreclosure timeline, as the ins and outs of the foreclosure process and paperwork can be confusing. You want someone with a firm grip on all of the specifics.

Typically, after you’ve missed three mortgage payments, your property will enter into the default process for foreclosure, during which you will receive a Notice of Intent to Foreclose, which is the court’s way of giving you warning. If you have already received this notification from your lender, it’s a very good thing you have decided to hire an attorney now. Once the Notice of Intent to Foreclose has been filed and you have been notified, you may have as little as 33 days before you receive the official Foreclosure Complaint.

The earlier you begin your search for a foreclosure defense attorney, the better. Ideally, you will already have interviewed and retained a brilliant attorney before you ever miss your first mortgage payment. In doing so, you’ll keep your attorney ahead of the eight ball at all times, enabling him to better serve you and get you the results that you want and need in order to remain in your home.

The best attorneys are focused on their clients’ needs at all times, especially in situations that come with high emotional stakes, like foreclosure and bankruptcy. Don’t settle for less than the best when it comes to saving your family home. Investing in a good defense now means that your chances of keeping your home (and negotiating new loan terms in your favor) will be much higher.

Next week we’ll talk more about the New Jersey foreclosure timeline, changes to the mediation structure, the Homekeeper Program, and what to do if your request for a stay for mediation isn’t granted.

Changes to New Jersey Foreclosure Rules: What You Need to Know

Photo courtesy of Jeffery Turner

Before 2013, homeowners who were at risk of foreclosure had a lot of great resources available to them through the New Jersey State Foreclosure Mediation Program. Along with experienced foreclosure attorneys, foreclosure counselors were provided free of charge to guide at-risk homeowners through the confusing process of mediation. This program helped many distressed borrowers keep their homes through a loan modification instead of losing everything to foreclosure.

Due to an unfortunate and unexpected loss of funding, the N.J. State Foreclosure Mediation Program is undergoing major changes. Many homeowners who have relied on the mediation program to help them navigate their way through all of New Jersey’s foreclosure regulations will lose this valuable resource. Mediators and legal counsel will no longer be paid through the state program, which means that homeowners will have to retain private attorneys to assist them with saving their homes.

Additionally, along with these changes (which took effect in the early months of this year), as of April 1, 2013, new foreclosure time constraints have been put into place. Whereas previously, homeowners were able to wait until the eve of their Sheriff’s sale to request a stay for mediation, new rules now mandate that a mediation request must be made within two months of the date that the original foreclosure Complaint was filed.

As homeowners were previously able to wait until the night before their Sheriff’s sale to seek a stay, this change in foreclosure procedures has some borrowers in great danger of losing their homes. Under the new rules, residential homeowners who are facing foreclosure will only be able to participate in mediation if said mediation is requested within the allotted 60 days. Upon receipt of a Complaint of Foreclosure on a property, delinquent borrowers must request a stay ASAP. These changes mean that homeowners who wait too long to seek counsel will have to take extraordinary measures in order to have mediation granted. In many cases, even heroic efforts will be unsuccessful at obtaining a mediation stay if the request is made outside of the new legal timeframe.

With these rapidly changing rules and continual state funding losses, homeowners who are faced with a potential foreclosure should act quickly to retain counsel for the best chance of saving their home. While the mediation service provided to you by private counsel will no longer be funded by the State of New Jersey, the expertise and guidance Veitengruber Law can give you is priceless. We’re here for you when you need help staying in your home. For a free consultation, fill out this easy form now, and we will contact you to discuss your needs.

As the saying goes, there is an exception to every rule. A very small number of agencies may still offer some gratuitous assistance to struggling homeowners. One such program is called the “Homekeeper Program.” To find out if you qualify for the HomeKeeper Program, call our office today.

Can I File for Bankruptcy Again?

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It doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes you can end up in a situation where you have already filed for bankruptcy once and unfortunately, several years later, you find yourself needing to file again. Most people aren’t sure if this is even possible or allowed. They also wonder what the consequences of filing for a second (or even third) bankruptcy might be. The short answer is that you can file for bankruptcy more than once.

With that being said, our goal at Veitengruber Law is to help get you back on your feet after filing for bankruptcy that first time, so that the need for future bankruptcy pleadings is eradicated. If you have already filed for bankruptcy with our help, please rest assured that we will work with you even after you have received your discharge to counsel you back to financial health.

However, if you have, for whatever reason, found yourself in the situation of potentially filing for bankruptcy again, there are important dates and restrictions that you should know about in order to ensure that you file at an appropriate time. The Bankruptcy Code has specific waiting periods set into place to avoid processing a multitude of “repeat filers.”

After all, if unlimited bankruptcies were acceptable and free from serious consequences, everyone would be doing it.

The date that you filed for bankruptcy the first time is the starting date of your wait time. Eight years must pass before you will qualify for a second Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge or reorganization of debts. You do not have to wait to apply, but you will not be eligible for a discharge until eight years have gone by.

If you need to file for a second bankruptcy to prevent foreclosure, you will still be eligible for the protection of a bankruptcy stay that a Chapter 13 filing offers. Additionally, if you filed for a chapter 13 bankruptcy and have managed to repay your unsecured debts by at least 70%, you can apply for a second discharge if you meet all of the other Bankruptcy Code requirements.

Finally, if you filed for bankruptcy previously, but were not granted a discharge, you may reapply at any time without a wait period. As always, come to us with any and all concerns without hesitation. No question is a dumb question! We are here to help.