Foreclosure in New Jersey: How Long Does it REALLY Take?

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Of the New Jersey homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure in the near future, most of them need more reliable information about the NJ foreclosure timeline. Just the word ‘foreclosure’ is enough to incite panic in any struggling homeowner. Sometimes, that panic is so profound that it causes people to make less than ideal decisions during the pre-foreclosure time period.

If you’ve fallen behind on your payments and have reason to believe that your mortgage lender may file for foreclosure on your home, the number one thing you need to do is get familiar with how the entire foreclosure process works in New Jersey. You’d be wise, especially if you wish to keep your home, to reach out to a foreclosure defense attorney as well.

Because the foreclosure process in NJ is judicial, mortgage lenders must proceed through the court system. You cannot be “kicked out” of your home until many, many steps have transpired, and every single step will be documented by the court. Also, you (as the homeowner) will receive certified notification via the US mail system every step of the way. Your lender cannot remove you from the home until the entire foreclosure process is complete and the home has been sold via Sheriff’s Sale. Take note: It is within your rights to remain in the home throughout the duration of the foreclosure case.

Keep in mind that the following steps have to happen before you’ll need to move out:

  • Obviously, you’ll have to miss several payments before your lender even thinks about taking any action against you. Typically, banks won’t even consider you for foreclosure until you’ve missed at least three mortgage payments.  That gives you around 90 days before the foreclosure process even begins.
  • Before any lender can officially start a foreclosure against a borrower, they must notify you (the borrower) 30 days in advance. This “notice of intent to foreclose” must be delivered to you at least 30 days before the foreclosure can be filed with the court so that you have time to bring the loan current, if possible. This tacks another 30 days onto the timeline.
  • Within an average of three months of the date that you receive the notice to foreclose, your bank will probably file the official foreclosure ‘complaint’ with the court. The complain will be sent via certified mail to you at your home address.
  • After you are in receipt of the complaint, you officially have 35 days to submit an ‘answer’ to the court. If you want to save your home, you want to submit an answer, with the help of your NJ foreclosure defense lawyer. Your ‘answer’ is a legal pleading that will tell the court your side of the story and how your attorney wants to negotiate with the lender to help you get OUT of foreclosure.
  • If you agree with the information contained in the complaint and want the foreclosure to proceed, you need not file an answer, and your case will move through the appropriate NJ foreclosure channels. Ideally, the rest of the process should take a month or two. If you do not contest the foreclosure, a judge will decide in favor of your lender, which will give them permission to put your home up for Sheriff’s Sale.

In order for your lender to proceed to Sheriff’s Sale, however, they are first required to announce the sale for four consecutive weeks in a newspaper that is local to your home.

If you’ve been counting along, you’ve noticed that each step of the foreclosure process adds significantly more time onto your timeline. Even if you don’t contest the complaint, the bare minimum amount of time from your first missed payment(s) to Sheriff’s Sale is 6-8 months.

We say ‘bare minimum’ with a grain of salt. Due to the astronomical number of New Jersey foreclosures, the court system is experiencing the longest backlog in its history. The current average REAL TIME foreclosure timeline in New Jersey is more than 1,000 days. That’s almost three years!

Although we do want to quell your fears about being kicked out of your home as soon as the word foreclosure is mentioned, we also want you to know that foreclosure can only be stopped if you take action. At any time in the foreclosure process, you and your foreclosure defense attorney have many options that will slow or even halt the foreclosure.

Among others, two ways to stop your foreclosure include: redemption (loan modification or refinance) and bankruptcy. Even if your home is scheduled to be sold at Sheriff’s Sale in a week, it’s still possible for the right attorney to stop the sale and get your home back.


Image credit: Dafne Cholet
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4 Responses to Foreclosure in New Jersey: How Long Does it REALLY Take?

  1. Pingback: NJ Sheriff’s Sale Adjourned Twice: Am I Out of Options? | Veitengruber Law

  2. Pingback: Help! I Haven’t Made a Mortgage Payment for 5 Years! | Veitengruber Law

  3. Pingback: Cleaning Up Abandoned Homes in New Jersey | Veitengruber Law

  4. Pingback: Top Reasons Foreclosed Homes in New Jersey Won’t Sell | Veitengruber Law

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