Navigating the NJ Foreclosure Process

NJ foreclosure

New Jersey has the highest rate of foreclosure in the United States.  More than 74,000 homes went through the foreclosure process in 2016 and while some improvement was seen in 2017, this remains a huge issue for New Jersey residents. Navigating the NJ foreclosure process can be overwhelming to say the least. At Veitengruber Law, it is our goal to give our clients peace of mind during this complicated process.

It is important to note that NJ is a judicial foreclosure state. This means all foreclosures must go through the court system. The lender must sue the occupant in an attempt to get his/her investment back. The process is cumbersome and time consuming, with the state taking on average 1,300 days to foreclose a housing unit.

A foreclosure starts with the occupants of a home missing a mortgage payment. The foreclosure proceedings can begin after one missed payment, but this is rare. Generally, most lenders allow 120 days after a missed payment before starting the foreclosure process.

Before the lender can initiate foreclosure proceedings, the lender is required by law to send a ‘Notice of Intention to Foreclose.’ This is a formal letter indicating the rights of the occupant to cure the debt and the amount required to do so. The letter must also indicate the occupant’s right to contact an attorney during the foreclosure process.

After the Notice of Intention is sent, the lender will file a lawsuit in court. The lawsuit will indicate that the lender is trying to sell the house to satisfy the money owed. Once the lender serves the occupant with the lawsuit, the occupant will have 35 days to respond. In order to dispute the lawsuit, the occupant must respond to the suit in front of the judge in order to explain why they legally should not lose their home. If this time passes with no response, the lender can ask the judge for a default judgment and potentially win the suit.

If the lender wins the suit, they can sell the house. NJ has a ‘right to redeem’ law which allows the occupant a short period of time to get the house back, typically lasting up to ten days. After this, the court will order the sheriff to initiate a sheriff sale, or public auction. The occupant will receive notice of the date of the sale and will have the chance to request a two-week postponement in order to gain more time to either refinance or sell the property. The deed to the home will be transferred to the lender two weeks from the date of sale.

While NJ certainly does have laws to protect home owners, it is important to act fast and with a full understanding of the law. The attorneys at Veitengruber Law are experienced in foreclosure law. Every foreclosure has its own complications and one mistake can mean the loss of your home. Having an experienced NJ foreclosure attorney during this process can help in several ways. Foreclosure defenses are complex and foreclosure law is always evolving. When your home is on the line, it is important to have an expert on your side to ensure you are complying with detailed court filing procedures and rules.

Image: “House Keys” by Steven Depolo – licensed under CC 2.0

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