How to Dispute a Debt and Win!

We’ve talked a lot on our blog about how to handle your unpaid debts so that your credit score doesn’t tank, because a low credit score makes it much harder for you to borrow money, buy a house, and purchase a vehicle. Even potential employers today have the ability to find out how you handle money before deciding whether or not to hire you. For the aforementioned reasons, keeping a decent credit score is something that rightfully demands your attention.

Keeping tabs on your ever-shifting credit score and the details contained within your credit report(s) is the easiest way to ensure that you don’t have any long-lost debts doing serious damage without your knowledge. If and when you discover an unpaid debt that belongs to you, it’s important to pay the debt ASAP to avoid losing valuable credit score points. Working with your credit repair attorney in NJ, you can negotiate a debt pay-off schedule that works for you. Remember to check back in with the credit reporting bureaus as soon as you’ve paid off said debt to make sure it has been removed from your credit report.

What happens if you receive a notice from a collection agency for a debt that you have no recollection of owing? While your first instinct may be to toss it in the trash with the rest of the “junk mail,” slow down for a minute. There are two very good reasons why you should NOT ignore any letter from a debt collector.

  1. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s possible that you do owe an original creditor money. Bills are be misplaced, mis-sent, and lost every day. The original creditor may have also made a billing error when they originally charged you. The bottom line is that it is possible that you owe money that you forgot about or didn’t know about.
  2. Debt collectors can continue to attempt to collect on a debt, even if it was never your debt to begin with, unless you respond to them, in writing, within 30 days. Therefore, even if a collection agency is completely falsifying information in the hopes that you will simply send them some money, do not ignore it.

If you are being held responsible for a debt that you don’t recognize or remember, you can dispute the debt by sending the collection agent a letter via Certified Mail, with return receipt requested. In your letter, state that you are writing to dispute the alleged debt, and that all collection attempts should cease unless they can provide you with all of the following:

  • The full amount of the alleged debt
  • The name and address of the original creditor
  • Proof that you are responsible for the alleged debt
  • Documentation showing that the collection agency is licensed to collect debts in New Jersey

If the person attempting to collect money is doing so fraudulently, you should never hear from them again once they receive this letter from you. On the other hand, if there is a legitimate debt that you’re responsible for, you will receive the information you requested. Either way it is advisable to contact a credit repair attorney and/or a consumer fraud attorney in order to get your desired results and to keep your good credit score safe.

Image: “Credit Dispute” by Cafe Credit – licensed under CC 2.0

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NJ Foreclosure Redemption: Explained

If you have recently “lost” your home to New Jersey foreclosure, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to get your home back before it is sold at auction. In fact, there are some very effective, tried and true methods that can be used to prevent your lender from proceeding with the Sheriff’s Sale – as long as you take action before the sale has already commenced.

Unfortunately, many people who are in similar situations to yours live in denial for a long period of time before taking any action regarding their home’s foreclosure. Burying your head in the sand is common in times like these because this is such an undesirable life event that can be very hard to face. Most people dealing with foreclosure never intended to lose their home and can spend months hoping for a miracle.

This leads to homeowners who finally take action at the last minute (or very close to the last minute). While it is easy to panic if your home is scheduled for Sheriff’s Sale very soon, is not recommended. The same is true if your home has already been sold at Sheriff’s Sale.

Remaining calm is key. If you have not taken action before the date of your foreclosure sale, you have likely already experienced the start of the eviction process. After your home has been sold via foreclosure sale, your last Hail Mary option is to take advantage of the redemption period.

In the State of New Jersey, the foreclosure redemption period is an extremely small window of time during which you may still be able to save your home. The New Jersey foreclosure redemption time-frame is 10 days. Therefore, you have 10 days after your home has been sold at Sheriff’s Sale to redeem the property and take back ownership.

It should be noted that there are no exceptions made during the NJ foreclosure redemption period. If you do not take action within the 10 days immediately following the foreclosure sale, you will have lost the last opportunity to buy back your home.

In NJ, homeowners who are attempting to redeem, or buy back, their previously owned home after it has been sold at a foreclosure sale, must refinance or pay the outstanding balance on their mortgage in full.

Insider Info: Because New Jersey is a judicial foreclosure state, lenders are required to file a lawsuit when they proceed with foreclosing on a home. The entire foreclosure process must be documented within the New Jersey court system. This gives some New Jersey homeowners a second opportunity to buy back their foreclosed homes, but only if their lender files a deficiency judgment after the Sheriff’s Sale.

If your lender files a deficiency judgment after your home sells at foreclosure sale, your New Jersey foreclosure defense attorney can help you bring action for redemption within six months after your lender has filed for deficiency judgment. This is a feat designated for experienced foreclosure and real estate attorneys and should not be attempted with a less-experienced professional.

To learn how to buy back your home via redemption after deficiency judgment, ask your NJ attorney ASAP.

If your home has been sold at a New Jersey Sheriff Sale and you’re interested in redeeming either during the 10 day redemption period or after a deficiency judgment – you must contact an experienced New Jersey foreclosure defense attorney TODAY.

Take action now before your chance to redeem your home truly passes. Be sure to ask your attorney about the new Senate proposal regarding NJ foreclosure stays to find out if it can be of help in your unique situation.

Image: “Keys.” by Linus Bohman – licensed under CC 2.0

Dealing with Surprise Liens on a NJ Title Report

While there are many unknowns when it comes to real estate transactions, when those unknowns become unpleasant surprises, the sale of a property can slow to a halt. One common reason for a stalled or cancelled real estate transaction is surprise liens that the seller wasn’t aware of.

What is a property lien?

“Lien” is one of those terms that gets tossed around all the time in the real estate world, but oftentimes real estate professionals find that their clients don’t fully understand what a lien is.

A property lien, in simplest terms, is a notice that becomes attached to a property (in this case, the home that is listed for sale). The notice states that the current owner of the property (i.e. the seller) is indebted to a creditor.

The reason creditors file liens on real property is because they are of public record. This means that the creditor is more likely to be able to collect the money they are owed.

How does a lien affect the sale of a home?

One of the steps in any real estate transaction is a title search – usually performed by a title company or a real estate attorney. The property up for sale must come back with what is called “clear title” – meaning no liens were found.

If your title search shows a lien on your home that you weren’t expecting, don’t panic. Mystery liens do happen, and as such, most real estate purchase agreements give sellers 30 days to address property liens without significantly delaying the closing.

Do I need an attorney to clear up liens on my property?

While it is possible for some homeowners to reconcile their debt with the creditor in question, many people need to clear up any property liens quickly in order to allow the sale of their home to continue. NJ real estate attorneys who are well-versed in handling surprise property liens can quickly and completely eradicate your lien(s), making their services invaluable at such a time.

Not only will your real estate lawyer help you with any surprise liens, he will also provide legal review of all paperwork surrounding the sale of your home, including the sale contract itself. Working with an experienced real estate attorney in New Jersey will reduce the time it takes to clear up any surprise liens and will ultimately give sellers (and buyers) an optimal result.

Additionally, if your property liens were placed by the IRS because you failed to pay your taxes properly, working with an attorney is in your best interest because of the possibility of tax fraud charges.

What are my options to contest a lien?

In the rare occasion that a lien is found on your property and you feel confident that it was placed in error, it’s possible that the debt was in fact repaid but the lien was simply never removed. While this may sound like an easy problem to resolve, it actually presents sellers and their attorneys with a challenge. Your NJ attorney will have to locate the original lienholder in order to obtain official lien release documentation.

If you refuse to make good on a lien that exists on your property (that has not been paid off already), you will be found in breach of contract. It is rare that a buyer decides to handle paying of a seller’s lien(s), but it does happen if a buyer is very motivated to purchase your property. Upon your refusal to clear up any liens, your buyer is more likely to simply walk away from purchasing your home.

 

 

 

 

Understanding a NJ Home Inspection Report

For those who are looking to buy or sell a home, the home inspection is a crucial part of the process.Whether you are the buyer or the seller of a property, you must have a solid understanding of all of the details found in your New Jersey home inspection report. This report will ultimately determine the overall condition of the property in question, and will specifically itemize any problems, both large and small.

Typically, the home inspection is ordered by the home buyer after they have signed a purchase contract. It is important to work with a professional, licensed and well-respected home inspector to ensure that nothing substantial is missed.

While the seller is required to disclose any and all existing issues with the house, they can only disclose problems that they are aware of. The job of the home inspector is to dig beneath the surface to find problems that may not be visible to the untrained eye, such as damage to any area of the home including: the foundation, pipes and plumbing, HVAC system(s), electrical systems, roof, walls, attic, ceilings, floors, doors and windows.

After he has inspected your potential future home, your NJ home inspector will provide you with a detailed report. This report will explain any and all findings of the home inspection. Some home inspection reports can run upwards of 30 pages, which can be a little bit intimidating to the novice home buyer.

Understanding Your Home Inspection Report

Home inspection reports can also come in different formats. Some home inspection teams report with a checklist, while others use a summary along with a longer narrative portion explaining the summary in detail.

Typically, home inspection reports will include a table of contents for ease of navigating through each portion of the report. Professional home inspection teams will include an introductory portion that provides important industry definitions along with details about the report, including: date completed, home address, age of the home, weather conditions during the report, and people who were present during the inspection.

Following any introductory sections will be the meat of any home inspection report. This portion of the report should be divided into areas of the home or home components that the inspector evaluated. Here, notes will be made and details will be listed about the condition of each home area/component (roof, plumbing etc.) along with suggestions, recommendations and any applicable photos and or videos that the home inspection team acquired during their review of the home.

Is a Home Inspection Really Necessary?

It is extremely important that anyone looking to purchase a home invests in a home inspection during the contingency period of the home purchase. Any New Jersey real estate contract/purchase contract is conditional until the home inspection has been completed. This means that the contract is not official until after the home inspection and can be terminated if there are significant issues discovered by the home inspector.

Many times, minor issues can be negotiated between the buyer and the seller, allowing the sale to proceed. Aesthetic changes, such as fresh paint or minor kitchen repairs can be added to the contract as the seller’s responsibility. Before closing, the buyer will have a final walk-through of the home, at which time they can determine whether or not all of the requested repairs have been made as agreed to in the contract.

 

Image by Andy Piper – licensed under CC 2.0

How the New Jersey Senior Freeze is Making a Difference

Property taxes are defined as taxes that are collected by the local jurisdiction in which a real property is located; the amount of property taxes any homeowner owes is based on the assessed value of the home(s) they own multiplied by the current tax rate in their local jurisdiction. New Jersey’s average property tax rate is one of the highest in the United States.

Owning a home in the Garden State has a lot of benefits, and those of us who are living and raising a family here wouldn’t dream of doing it anywhere else. We may have to grit our teeth every time the quarterly tax bill makes its appearance, but pay it we do. Life in New Jersey is worth it – offering tight-knit neighborhoods, reputable public schools, and, of course, the Jersey Shore! However, as NJ homeowners reach retirement age, many have begun struggling to keep their homes, in many cases because they’ve fallen behind on their property taxes.

As New Jersey’s real estate market continues to take hits, lawmakers are now taking steps to help struggling seniors so they don’t have to leave the state in order to afford to own a home. The Property Tax Reimbursement Plan, commonly called the “Senior Freeze,” is one of the programs that is making a real difference.

Under the Senior Freeze, or the PTRP, New Jersey seniors who meet a list of requirements will be eligible for reimbursement of the cumulative increase in their property taxes since the first year they became eligible, which is called the base year.

In order to qualify for property tax increase reimbursement under the Senior Freeze program, New Jersey seniors:

  • Must have lived in New Jersey for at least ten consecutive years – either renting or owning their own home
  • Have resided in the home they currently own for a minimum of the last three consecutive years
  • Should be at least age 65 or have a spouse who is at least 65 year of age – ALTERNATIVELY – those who do not meet the age requirement but are receiving Federal SSDI (disability) benefit payments can also qualify
  • Must meet specific income requirements

The year in which New Jersey seniors are able to meet all of the above eligibility requirements is considered their base year. The base year is essentially the year in which their property taxes will be “frozen,” so to speak. Any increase in their NJ property taxes that they have paid out since the base year will be repaid to them.

Ex: Ruth turned 65 in the year 2010. She has lived in and owned her current New Jersey home with her husband for 20 years, and she also met all of the additional requirements in 2010. Ruth will be reimbursed using this formula: The property tax amount she paid in 2017 (current year) minus the amount she paid in property taxes in her base year (2010). The difference equals her reimbursement amount.

Every year forward, Ruth’s property taxes will remain frozen at the amount she paid in her base year of 2010. Combined with assistance from the Homestead Benefit Program, New Jersey senior citizens have a better chance at maintaining their standard of living into retirement, and they can continue to enjoy the wonderful Garden State for many years to come.

 

 

 

 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Close

Now that you’ve invested extensive time and energy into the process of buying a home in NJ, it can feel a bit overwhelming to realize that you still have one hurdle to clear – the closing. Most people have at least a vague, general knowledge of the fact that you have to “close” on a property before it officially becomes yours. But what exactly does this mysterious “closing” entail?

The How (to prepare):

To ensure that your closing (or settlement, as it is often called) goes smoothly, it’s best to be fully prepared in advance. Because contract language can be confusing and lengthy, it is in your best interest to have an experienced New Jersey real estate attorney review all of your loan statements and the purchase contract during your three day attorney review period, which is required by law to begin within three business days of your official closing date.

Along with having your attorney carefully review all of your paperwork, you should be allowed to do a last walk-through of the home 24 hours before the closing. This walk-through has two main purposes: to ensure that everything is in the condition that the seller agreed to in the contract, and to make sure that the seller has fully and completely vacated the premises (unless it has been otherwise negotiated in the contract).

The Who:

State laws dictate who must be present at a real estate closing. In New Jersey, the buyer(s) must be present to sign all of the official paperwork and final loan documents. The buyer’s attorney can be present if there are any questions still left unanswered, but your NJ real estate attorney is not required to attend the closing. Your real estate agent and/or title company representative will typically handle all of the closing details.

Other people who may attend the closing include: the seller, the seller’s real estate agent and occasionally, a representative from your lending institution.

The Where:

New Jersey real estate closings most often take place at the buyer’s attorney’s office or at the buyer’s realtor’s office. The location is negotiable so that it is as accommodating as possible for everyone involved.

The What (to bring):

On the day of your closing, you’ll to bring proof of your identity, proof of your homeowners insurance policy, any home inspection reports and a copy of the contract that you have reviewed with your attorney. You’ll need this copy to verify that no changes have been made to the official contract that you will be signing.

This is also the time to fork over your down payment and closing costs. You cannot make these payments with a personal check, so be sure to verify with your closing agent beforehand what form of payment is preferred. It will likely be a cashier’s check or, in some cases, a wire transfer. If there are any smaller surprise fees that need to be paid at closing, you should be able to pay for those with a check.

The What (to expect):

Once you arrive at your closing or settlement meeting, you can expect to do a lot (and we mean A LOT) of signing your name on all of the closing documents and final loan paperwork.

The transaction will be recorded by a representative from the title company, who will then file the deed with the appropriate township/municipality.

Just as your hand starts to cramp uncontrollably from all of the signing you have to do, it will be over and you’ll be handed the keys to your new NJ home!

 

 

 

 

Hiring the Right Professionals for Your NJ Real Estate Purchase

When it comes time to purchase a home, whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an experienced home buyer, you want to put together a superior professional team. In doing so, you will give yourself the best chance at landing the home of your dreams within your price range and ideally, within your desired timeframe.

Living in the technology era makes it extraordinarily easy to access information regarding almost any topic – and this includes the real estate market. While any tech savvy home buyer can access a home’s stats, asking price and any other information associated with the listing, does this mean that you don’t need to hire a realtor? And while were at it, who else do you need to hire help you bring this thing “home?”

Real estate professional/agent

While it’s true that you can easily access listing information about virtually any property that is listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), it is imperative that you take the time to research, interview and select the right real estate agent.

Real estate agents have so much more to offer you than what you can find with the click of your computer mouse, namely: experience. The right real estate agent for you will become your advocate and will help you get the best deal possible. Experienced real estate professionals can also make the home buying process more effective by helping you narrow down specifically what you are looking for in a home.

While it is possible for you to go it on your own without a real estate agent, it is not advisable unless you have solid experience in the real estate field yourself.

Lending agent/mortgage company

Naturally, you’re likely going to need to mortgage this significant purchase, and choosing the right mortgage company can make a big difference in your overall satisfaction with the home buying process.

Look for a lender who is highly reputable in your area and has solid reviews from customers as well as a good BBB rating. The ideal lender will present you with a variety of different mortgage programs and down payment options. They should be able to tell you rather quickly how much house you can afford. Quick response time and a history of in-house processing, underwriting and funding are also important factors that many home buyers find invaluable.

Real estate attorney

The process of buying a home is a very serious transaction with a plethora of details and minutiae. A financial decision as large as buying real property has many legal issues that only an experienced New Jersey real estate attorney is qualified to answer properly. No real estate agent should be giving you legal advice about your home purchase. Everything from translating legalese within the purchase contract to tax obligations and any existing or surprise property liens is best handled by your lawyer.

Working with a real estate attorney is especially crucial if you are purchasing a home via NJ short sale or Sheriff’s Sale (foreclosure). The added legal implications surrounding these types of home buying cement your need for a New Jersey real estate attorney who also specializes in foreclosure defense.

Title agent/company

Most experienced real estate attorneys can also perform title searches, but title companies have one job and one job only: making sure the home that you purchase has a clear title search. You will probably still want to purchase title insurance, as there is no guarantee that long-lost liens on the property will pop up in the distant future, but this is a decision that your real estate attorney can help you make along with your title agent.

Home inspector

Soon after you sign a purchase contract, you will be given the opportunity to do a professional home inspection on the property before the contract becomes official. In order to avoid making a significant financial blunder in purchasing a house that is wrought with problems, it is essential that you hire a home inspection company or professional home inspector who has substantial experience under his belt. Your home inspector will be able to discover any existing structural problems with the home that either weren’t disclosed by the seller or weren’t known to the seller. You will then be able to work with your real estate agent to either negotiate to have repairs made (at the seller’s expense), or, cancel the transaction if a satisfactory compromise cannot be made.

 

 

Announcing the Opening of our Bordentown, NJ Real Estate Law Office!

At Veitengruber Law, our client success rates have continued to climb every year since our inception in 2010. Helping people is what motivates us, so we are always thinking about how to help even more clients. Our current office is located along the Jersey Shore in Wall, New Jersey. This location allows us to assist clients in Union, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, Camden and (parts of) Burlington counties. We’ve known for awhile that we wanted to expand our reach via a second office, situated on the western side of the state. Introducing Veitengruber Law’s second location:

33 Third Street
2nd Floor
Suite 3
Bordentown, NJ 08505

The founder of Veitengruber Law, George Veitengruber III, Esq., lives in Bordentown, NJ with his wife and two sons. Bordentown is a beautiful small town that sits along the Delaware River in north Burlington County. Just a few miles south of Trenton, our new office location will make our services more readily available to those who live in Mercer, northern Burlington, northern Camden, western Ocean and western Monmouth counties.

In addition to assisting you with all of your NJ real estate needs, Veitengruber Law: Bordentown will continue to represent clients in matters of: bankruptcy, foreclosure defense, debt negotiation, credit repair, asset protection, estate planning and collections.

By maintaining a limited number of practice areas, our attorneys and legal staff have been able to gain immeasurable experience regarding New Jersey real estate, foreclosure defense, bankruptcy and other financial matters, making our firm hard to beat in terms of expertise. In fact, we feel confident in saying that our NJ legal knowledge base and success rate cannot be beaten.

Our Bordentown office hours are by appointment only. Please call 856-318-2759 OR 609-297-5226 to set up your initial consultation in Bordentown. Also, if you have been seeing us in our Wall office but feel that our Bordentown location would be more convenient for you, do not hesitate to let us know!

 

Veitengruber Law Opens NJ Foreclosure Defense Office in Bordentown

Veitengruber Law has proudly served New Jersey residents in the counties of Union, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, Camden and (parts of) Burlington since 2010. While we are very happy with and proud of the number of clients we’ve been able to help each year, we always want to do more. This got us thinking about making our services more accessible to those who need our help in western parts of New Jersey.

The entire Veitengruber Law team has poured our hearts and souls into helping our Wall, NJ clients with their foreclosure defense cases. Our other practice areas include: New Jersey credit repair and debt negotiation, real estate transactions, asset protection, estate planning and collections. 2017 is the year that everything fell perfectly into place to allow for the opening of a second Veitengruber Law office. Without further ado, the address of our second location is:

33 Third Street
2nd Floor
Suite 3
Bordentown, NJ 08505

Located in northern Burlington County along the Delaware River, Bordentown is a mere 6 miles south of New Jersey’s capital city of Trenton, making our services more accessible to Mercer County residents. George Veitengruber, our firm’s founder, has always dreamed of expanding his law practice to enable him to help his neighbors and, consequently, his hometown of Bordentown itself. Additionally, our new office is more accessible to those who live in: northern Camden, northern Burlington, western Monmouth and western Ocean counties.

Our representation will continue to be unparalleled because we focus on a limited number of practice areas. This means that our attornyes and support personnel are virtual experts in our areas of the NJ law. We’ve helped so many people save their homes through NJ foreclosure defense that we would challenge you to find another New Jersey foreclosure defense attorney who knows the process better than our legal team.

At present, consultations in our Bordentown office are by appointment only. To schedule an appointment in Bordentown, call: 856-318-2759 OR 609-297-5226.

 

Veitengruber Law Opens NJ Bankruptcy Office in Bordentown

Since 2010, Veitengruber Law has been providing comprehensive debt relief solutions to New Jersey residents in Monmouth, Ocean and Atlantic Counties as well as part of South Burlington County. As we achieved successful outcomes for more and more clients each year, we started thinking about expanding our reach. What if we could help even more struggling debtors in additional areas of New Jersey?

Our founding attorney, George Veitengruber III, Esq., has always dreamed of expanding the practice into his hometown of Bordentown, NJ. Located along the western side of Burlington County, Bordentown is located approximately 6 miles south of Trenton and 25 miles northeast of Philadelphia.

After putting everything he had into the Wall, NJ office, everything came together this year to facilitate the opening of a second Veitengruber Law office. We are thrilled to be able to announce our new location:

33 Third Street
2nd Floor
Suite 3
Bordentown, NJ 08505

We will be offering NJ legal services in all of the areas of the law that we currently practice, including: NJ bankruptcy, foreclosure defense, debt negotiation, credit repair, real estate transactions, asset protection, estate planning and collections.

As always, we plan to continue our high caliber representation by keeping our focus on a limited number of practice areas. This allows our attorneys and legal staff to become literal experts in our fields. We’ve helped so many clients to get a new financial lease on life via bankruptcy that you would be hard-pressed to find another New Jersey bankruptcy attorney who knows the process better than Veitengruber Law.

At this time, our Bordentown office will be open by appointment only. To schedule a consultation in Bordentown, call: 856-318-2759 OR 609-297-5226.