Can I Sell My Home If I’m Behind on My Mortgage?

If you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments and cannot find a way to catch up, you may think selling your home is the only way to get on top of your finances. As long as your lender has not foreclosed on your home yet, you still have the opportunity to sell your home and get out from under your mortgage. But in this situation you need to move quickly and decisively. Here is everything you need to know about selling your home after you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments.

The foreclosure process will start soon after you begin to miss mortgage payments. Even missing just one payment can cause you to receive a foreclosure notice in the mail. After you are more than 120 days late, your lender is legally able to reclaim your home and sell it in order to recoup their money. At this time, you will be forced out of your home. The foreclosure will also appear on your credit report and can drop your credit score drastically, impacting your ability to get future lines of credit. Fortunately, you have up until the actual day of foreclosure to sell your home on your own.

Even if you think you are heading towards foreclosure, you can still get in front of your situation and take financial control back. How you go about selling your home before foreclosure depends on whether your house is worth more or less than what you owe on your mortgage. You will be able to sell your home and use the profits to pay back your lender as long as the fair market value of your home is greater than what you still owe on your loan. Taking this path will look much like the steps you would take to sell your home at any time: find a real estate agent and hope you receive acceptable offers on your home. You will not normally need to get your lender’s permission to sell your home like this.

If you find your home is worth less than the amount you still owe your lender, you will need to sell your home as a short sale to avoid foreclosure. A short sale is when you accept an offer on your home that will not cover the full amount you still owe on your mortgage. You will need to get the approval of your lender in order to go down this path, however this may be difficult. Lenders automatically lose money on short sales so they may not be eager to approve. You will need to submit a hardship letter explaining why you can’t make your mortgage payments and evidence to support this claim.

Many lenders will eventually accept your short sale offer as long as you meet specific demands to help meet their bottom line. You might find yourself responsible for repairs and many closing fees so you need to decide if you want to take on these costs (and if you can even afford to do so). Your agent and real estate attorney will be able to help you negotiate these terms. A short sale will do much less damage to your credit than a foreclosure and will allow you to stay in the home until the sale is completed.

If you are behind on your mortgage payments, but you want to stay in your home, there are also other options besides selling or foreclosure, like mortgage forbearance or mortgage modification. Veitengruber Law can help you find the right solution for your specific situation.

What is the Right of Redemption Before Foreclosure?

In the foreclosure process, the redemption period is a specific amount of time wherein the borrower can pay off the debt and “redeem” or “reclaim” their property. All states allow borrowers to redeem a property prior to a foreclosure sale, but New Jersey is one of the states that also allows you to redeem a property after it has already been sold via foreclosure. If you are facing foreclosure and unsure of your rights to redemption, here is what you need to know.

The right to redemption is meant to give borrowers one final chance to keep their home. Redeeming a home can include: 1) paying off the debt in total (principal balance plus interest and any accumulated fees) before the foreclosure sale in order to put a stop to the sale, or 2) providing reimbursement of the purchase price to the party who has purchased the property after the foreclosure sale, or otherwise paying off the mortgage debt including fees and interest.

Utilizing the right to redemption before the foreclosure sale is one of the best ways to avoid foreclosure. In order to redeem your home before the foreclosure sale, you must figure out exactly how much money you will need to present to satisfy the debt. You can do this by requesting a payoff quote (sometimes called a payoff letter or payoff statement) from your loan servicer. Once you know how much money you will need to redeem the property, you will have the chance to make payment anytime between the acceleration of the underlying promissory note and the foreclosure sale.

In practice, redeeming a home prior to a foreclosure sale does not happen very often. The reality is that if a borrower had the funds to redeem the property, they likely would not have fallen so far behind on their payments to begin with. This is where statutory redemption, or redemption after foreclosure, comes into play. Statutory redemption gives borrowers more time to gather the funds needed to keep their home. In New Jersey, borrowers have up until the court confirms the sale or the lender gets a deficiency judgement to redeem their home after a foreclosure sale.

In order to redeem your home after a foreclosure sale, you will need to pay the full amount of the judgement, plus interest, costs, and all reasonable expenses that the purchaser incurred for taxes, assessments, any prior liens, and necessary repairs after the sale of the home. If the purchaser received any amount of income from the property, as a rental, for example, this amount will be deducted from the total you will need to pay.

The right to redemption is a chance to help you save your home, but it isn’t always realistic for those facing foreclosure. If you want to save your home, but don’t think you’d have the ability to redeem it outright, Veitengruber Law can help you determine the best path through foreclosure based on your specific needs.

Foreclosure Mediation Now Required by Law in New Jersey

New Jersey has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, making NJ homeowners specifically vulnerable to losing their homes. In April, Governor Murphy signed into law a bill that is intended to address the massive waves of foreclosures across the state. This new bill is intended to help NJ residents avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. Part of this bill requires mortgage lenders to send information about mediation with every notice of intent to foreclose. Here is everything you need to know about the law and how it impacts your rights as a homeowner in the Garden State.

As of November 1st, the New Jersey Foreclosure Mediation Act will help NJ homeowners and lenders work together to avoid foreclosure through mediation. Under this law, lenders must send a Notice of Intent to Foreclosure along with written notice of the homeowner’s right to take advantage of the Court’s Foreclosure Mediation Program. A homeowner is eligible for participation in the program as long as the property in question is an owner-occupied residence OR is planned to be occupied by the homeowner-borrower or a member of their immediate family.

The Foreclosure Mediation Program facilitates communication between the homeowner, their lender, and an impartial third-party. The parties involved can discuss the borrower’s financial situation and try to find ways the homeowner can keep their home or otherwise give up the property without foreclosure proceedings. Alternatives to foreclosure can include loan modification, repayment arrangements, a forbearance agreement, a short sale, or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. There is no fee to participate in this program.

There are legal requirements the lenders must abide by when sending the Foreclosure Mediation Notice.  The notice must be included in the initial Notice of Intent to Foreclose, it must be written in English and Spanish, it must inform the homeowner of their right to a free Housing Counselor, and it has to state in plain and direct language that a foreclosure has not been filed yet. If your lender does not follow even one of these rules, they are in violation of the law. The notice cannot claim that a foreclosure has been filed. The notice is to provide the homeowner with adequate time (60 days) to consider all of their options, including participation in the mediation program.

Since this new law has gone into place, some lenders have been disregarding this law by filing for foreclosure before sending the notice of mediation or by telling the homeowner they are in foreclosure before a complaint has been filed. It is important for homeowners to remember that a notice of intent to foreclose cannot legally claim that a foreclosure has been filed. You are entitled to the time and resources provided with the Foreclosure Mediation Program.

If you are in doubt about a Notice of Intent to Foreclosure or your rights under the NJ Foreclosure Mediation Act, contact Veitengruber Law. We can help you review these documents and explain your rights as an NJ homeowner. If you are facing foreclosure, you do have options. While participating in the NJ Foreclosure Mediation Program does not guarantee you will be able to avoid foreclosure, it doesn’t hurt to participate.

When is it a Good Idea to Buy a Foreclosed Property in NJ?

NJ foreclosure

Since the housing market collapse of 2008, New Jersey has had the dubious distinction of leading the nation in foreclosures. For a variety of reasons (divorce, loss of income, disability, etc) people in NJ are still struggling to make their mortgage payments and stay in their homes over a decade later. Navigating the foreclosure market is wrought with pitfalls and potholes. However, contrary to popular belief that buying a foreclosure property is always bad news, there are actually a few occasions where investing in a foreclosed home can be a manageable and economical option.

 

1. You know the neighborhood.

Things happen to a house that sits vacant. Without heat and air conditioning running, a house gets exposed to moisture and rot. Without people around to fix things as they break, leaks spring up, wires fray, appliances rust. Animals bore holes in siding and chew through electrical wires. Criminals may break in and steal copper pipes and appliances, or use the property for drugs. Squatters make themselves at home and don’t clean up after themselves. These are some of the things you can expect when buying a foreclosure. But you can stem some of that tide by knowing the property and its owners.

A house in a good neighborhood is watched more carefully than a house in a neighborhood with a high crime rate. Check the local crime reports and see what the town history is. Are there police patrols in the streets that would deter criminal activity?

Neighbors would also have a vested interest in keeping up the foreclosed property for their own property values. They may occasionally mow the lawn to prevent overgrowth, weeds, and ticks. If an abandoned swimming pool was attracting mosquitoes and wildlife, they would report it to the town. Invested neighbors will do some of the work of keeping up a property for you.

 

2. You plan to tear down the house.

If the land is valuable and you plan to tear down the house anyway, buying a foreclosed property can be a great deal. You don’t have to worry about hidden repair costs if you’re ripping everything out and starting fresh. Land in New Jersey is at a premium, so if there’s acreage involved, a foreclosure may be your best option.

 

3. It’s not your primary home.

The foreclosure process can take years, and even toward the end can fall through. The legal system has protections in place to try to get the homeowner to remain in their home. They have various recourses to take up until the last day, and even then may try to regain their house. If you are trying to purchase a foreclosure as your primary residence you could be tied up for a long time without a home. It’s best to look at foreclosures when you have time to plan. Second homes or investment properties are usually a better fit.

 

4. You’re experienced in investment properties.

If you’re looking to be the next HGTV house-flipping star, it’s a bad idea to start with foreclosures. Build up a solid background of investment properties bought with traditional mortgages first. You’ll become experienced in uncovering structure issues, but usually not on the scale of what you can find in a foreclosure. As you earn stable profits, you’ll be able to afford the risk of a foreclosed property. At that point, even if you make a bad investment, it won’t bankrupt you.

 

5. You get to a property early in the process.

There’s a good chance you won’t be able to perform a home inspection if the foreclosure is being sold at auction. Without a home inspection, you will be going into the purchase totally blind. You may be able to bypass an auction altogether if you get to the homeowner during the pre-foreclosure period. The buyer may be receptive to a reasonable offer and you’ll be able to perform home inspections to uncover any potential problems.

 

6. You have an experienced real estate attorney.

An experienced attorney like George Veitengruber can help you determine if a foreclosure property is the right investment for you. Veitengruber Law can perform a title search on the property and discover if there are any outstanding liens. When you purchase a home at auction you are inheriting property liens, so you want to make sure you know what you’re getting into.

If you’ve decided that a foreclosure is a good investment for you, Veitengruber Law can also help you prepare for the auction as well as attend the auction with you. All the paperwork needs to be ready in advance including your deposit, which is nonrefundable in NJ. If you are ready to accept the risk, a foreclosed property could be your way to a big reward.

Reasons Why a NJ Foreclosure Property is a Great Investment

NJ foreclosure

Buying a home is often the biggest investment an individual can make. Depending on where you live and the status of the market at the time, you may face heavy competition for homes in your price range. Including NJ foreclosure properties could widen your pool of potential homes while simultaneously saving you some money. It can seem to some potential buyers that foreclosed homes may be a bad investment. If you get what you pay for, the low prices of foreclosed homes may make it seem like you’re paying for a house with a lot of problems. But foreclosed homes can be a great investment for the right homebuyer.

Foreclosure status on a potential home can mean a lot of different things. In most cases, you will not be able to gather as much information on homes in foreclosure as compared to properties that are simply listed for sale. It is also a good bet that the home is in need of some upkeep, especially if it has been empty for an extended period of time. If the previous owners fell behind on payments, it stands to reason that they may have fallen behind on regular home maintenance as well. This is not always the case though – and every foreclosed home will come with different needs. A foreclosed home could be in perfectly good shape or in need of a substantial amount of hard work.

Pre-Foreclosure

Sometimes, buying a home in pre-foreclosure can be a “best of both worlds” situation. Pre-foreclosure means the home is being sold by the owners to avoid losing the home at Sheriff’s Sale. The owners have likely already received legal notice from their lender, but the foreclosure process hasn’t officially started yet. Sellers who know foreclosure is imminent are facing serious legal and financial consequences; therefore, they are often very motivated.

If you’re lucky enough to find a house just before it goes into the NJ foreclosure system, you’ll have the opportunity to tour the property before making an offer, which doesn’t always happen if you’re buying a foreclosed home at auction. It can be difficult, however, to find these homes or confirm that they are actually on the market. Often, your local newspaper will list foreclosure notices and some real estate websites have filters for “potential listings.” If you’re up for some detective work, or have a NJ real estate attorney with a vast network of real estate agents, you could get a great deal on an awesome property.

Buying a Home at Sheriff’s Sale

Once a home has officially entered the foreclosure process, there are two main ways for you to purchase it. The first is through auction. Banks and lenders prefer auctions because they are an easy, straightforward way for them to recuperate at least some of their losses and get the home off the market. For a potential homebuyer, though, auctions can be a little scary. Buying a home via NJ Sheriff’s Sale means you likely will not be able to see the inside of the home before the day of the sale. Properties are sold as-is in auctions, so you could be taking a huge risk buying a home without seeing it first. Hiring a professional home inspector to accompany you to the Sheriff’s Sale to indicate any potential repairs or major issues is one way to avoid making a huge mistake.

Additionally, you can do some research on your own to help you make an informed decision. Ownership records, building permits, and previous inspections will all be part of public record. Drive to the property yourself and see what you can from the outside. Ask neighbors what they know about the home. You will want all the information you can possibly get to make sure you are making a worthwhile investment.

Direct Purchase from the Lender

The second way to buy a foreclosed home is directly through the bank. Like with an auction, the property will be sold as-is and the seller may not have all the information you would want on important records about house maintenance or potential repairs. Unlike an auction, however, you will have more time to get the property professionally inspected and determine if the repairs are worth the investment. If you choose to go through with the purchase, be prepared for a long wait. Because you are dealing with a corporation instead of an individual, it can take a long time for these kinds of foreclosure sales to go through.

While foreclosed homes are certainly a bargain, you still may need help financing your investment. When buying a foreclosed home at auction, you will probably need cash up front for the quick transaction. However, you will have financing options if you buy a home in pre-foreclosure or directly through the lender. Your purchase will likely be similar to a traditional home buying process in that you will still have regular mortgage payments over 15 or 30 years. The only difference might come from the level of repairs needed on the home. If your inspection reveals major repairs will be necessary, you should consider getting an FHA 203(k) renovation loan. This type of mortgage loan will cover the purchase price in addition to any renovations needed.

Sometimes buying a foreclosed home comes down to luck and timing, but if you’re willing to put in some time and research it could be worth your while. Making the decision to purchase a foreclosed home doesn’t have to be intimidating. Veitengruber Law can help ensure you are getting the most out of your investment. It is possible to become the owner of a great home at a low cost – you just have to know where to look.

Aging in Place: Avoiding NJ Foreclosure in Retirement

NJ foreclosure

Entering retirement can be a time of celebration and relaxation, but it can also lead to financial stress. You’ve spent your whole life working towards this moment, but managing your finances on a fixed income can be hard to get used to. While ideally you would be living debt-free in retirement, many homeowners are taking their mortgages and other debts with them into their senior years. If you are worried about how to continue to pay for your home after retirement, there are some steps you can take to avoid facing a NJ foreclosure.

No matter how much you plan for retirement, one unexpected event can throw everything off balance. Unforeseen expenses are some of the biggest reasons retirees struggle to make their mortgage payments. Medical bills can quickly amount to a small fortune. Divorce can leave one person struggling to make mortgage payments alone. Loss of income can affect homeowners even after retirement, due to loss of a part-time job or loss of invested funds. If you find yourself facing even one of these hardships, it may be difficult or impossible to make a mortgage payment.

If you believe a lower monthly payment would allow you to stay in your home, you should consider a loan modification. With a loan modification, your interest rate can be lowered, the loan term can be extended, and/or the principal can be reduced to make monthly payments more affordable. In order to be eligible for a loan modification, you need to prove to your lender that you can’t afford your current mortgage payment, but could if the payment was lowered.

When applying for a loan modification, it is really helpful to have an experienced attorney advocating for your interests. When applying alone, homeowners inexperienced with the process can make mistakes or neglect to provide sufficient evidence of their income. Lenders will reject applications if they believe the requester doesn’t have enough income to meet the lower payments. However, it may just be that you have not listed all of your income, or have have failed to describe your income appropriately. Any money you are receiving has the potential to help your chances of getting approved for a loan modification. At Veitengruber Law, we know what lenders are looking for and how to create an application will be approved.

While you are working to avoid foreclosure, it might be worth looking into increasing your income. If you have the space, renting a room to a relative or friend or renting out an unused space for storage can help supplement your retirement plan. Many retirees hold part-time jobs like dog walking, babysitting, elderly care, and freelancing. Even if you only take a job long enough to get your loan modification approved and pay off some debts, you can resume a carefree retirement once the threat of foreclosure is no longer looming.

The State of New Jersey has made efforts to give retirees a better chance of maintaining their standard of living while continuing to live in the garden state. Law makers have stepped in to help struggling seniors with the Property Tax Reimbursement Plan, also known as the “Senior Freeze.” For seniors who meet a list of requirements, this program freezes property taxes at the amount paid at the time of retirement. Under this program, any increases in NJ property taxes paid since retirement will be reimbursed. This program helps struggling seniors achieve a more consistent, lower cost of living.

Your retirement years should be stress-free and happy. Veitengruber Law is experienced in offering expert legal and financial advice to carry you through retirement with financial security. Enjoy your golden years the way you should—in the comfort of your own home.

STOP a NJ Sheriff’s Sale and KEEP YOUR HOME

NJ sheriff's sale

In New Jersey, it can take a long time to foreclose on a home. There are a lot of options to explore before you get to the point of foreclosure. If, however, you find yourself unable to work with your lender to get a loan modification and a foreclosure commences, you may be facing a sheriff sale of your home. The good news is, even at the point that a sheriff sale has been scheduled, there are still ways to stop the auction and save your home. Veitengruber Law is here to offer valuable legal advice to get you through this time sensitive situation.

After it has been decided the home will go to sheriff’s sale, the lender or the homeowner can ask the court to adjourn, or postpone, the sale temporarily. Under NJ law, the adjournment can be requested for any or no reason at all, but the homeowner can only ask for adjournment twice whereas the lender can ask as many times as they want. These adjournments last for two weeks and give the homeowner time to consider their options.

In New Jersey, each county has its own adjournment procedures and sets its own costs for requests. Generally, the fee is small – around $28 – in most counties. All requests for adjournment must be made in person and the fee must be paid up front. The request can be made in a letter listing the docket number and sheriff sale number along with the property address and date of the sale. Some counties offer a standard form to request the adjournment. We can help you submit this request to make sure you are approved for your two week adjournment.

In limited situations, the homeowner can ask for additional adjournments. This formal request to the Court would only be granted for good cause, like if a sale of the home is pending or the homeowner is likely to be approved for a loan modification. Additional requests for adjournment can be costly and are at the full discretion of the judge, so it is important to try to work toward a solution within the time limits provided by your two allotted adjournments.

Once the sale of the home has been stalled or stopped, you have a few options to consider. Because you have missed more than three payments, the loan is declared to be in default and the lender will not just let you start paying again to catch-up on missed payments. These missed payments and late fees are combined with any real estate taxes or insurance that has been paid by the lender along with any legal fees to make up the “arrears.” The arrears must be paid before the lender will allow you to start making monthly payments again.

There are a few ways to pay off the arrears. The first is to pay them off in one lump sum, which can be difficult if not impossible for most people. The second is to negotiate a loan modification with your lender and have the arrears added to the principal balance of the loan. Even if you have tried and failed to get a loan modification in the past, with Veitengruber Law’s help it may still be possible to work out a loan modification. This could permanently close your foreclosure case and save your home. A loan modification is often the most ideal way to resolve a foreclosure case and we will do everything they can to work toward this goal.

The final option to repay arrears and end your foreclosure case while keeping your home is to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Once bankruptcy is declared, a sheriff sale of your home will be immediately stopped. While the idea of filing for bankruptcy can seem intimidating, bankruptcy is actually a very useful legal tool to get back on top of your finances. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will likely save your home from foreclosure and also give you options to mitigate your debts. If you also have excessive credit card debt or other debt from medical or other unplanned expenses, these debts can be managed within the same bankruptcy case. Working with an experienced  bankruptcy law attorney who also provides foreclosure defense services will help you determine the best way to save your home and get you on the path to a better financial future.

There are a lot of considerations to take into account when facing a sheriff sale of your home in New Jersey. We understand that this is a deeply personal decision and we will be there to support you every step of the way. Don’t assume you are out of options because a sheriff’s sale is scheduled. Contact us today for an expert assessment of your situation and save your home!

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

deed in lieu NJ

 

It happens to a lot of people in New Jersey these days – the high cost of living finds you over extending yourself. One minute you’re keeping your head above water with utility bills, unsecured debt, and mortgage payments.  Then something happens; an unexpected illness, a layoff, a divorce – and suddenly you’re too far gone. Once you have consulted with your accountant and an attorney specializing in credit repair you may find that your best decision is to extricate yourself from your property. One option in this scenario is a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure (also called a mortgage release by some lenders).

 

Essentially, a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure is when the borrower surrenders the property in question to the lender, and the parties execute a title-transferring document stating that the surrendered property satisfies any remaining debt on the mortgage note. This document will have to be notarized, and will eventually be recorded in much the same way as any other deed. There are advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement.

 

Advantages

  • Borrower avoids any (perceived) public embarrassment from a full foreclosure proceeding and/or sheriff’s sale of the property.
  • Borrower may receive better terms and conditions than would have been available in a more formal foreclosure.
  • Immediately releases the borrower from responsibility of the debt of the mortgage, and any associated collection efforts such as letters, phone calls, or court proceedings (not to mention stress)!
  • Deed in Lieu has much less of a negative impact on one’s credit score than a foreclosure. (When in doubt, call one of the three major credit bureaus and ask.)
  • Reduction in time and anxiety as compared to forcing the lender to take possession of the property, or executing a short sale.
  • You are not required to find a buyer for your property; you are only required to attempt to sell the property.
  • Sometimes the lender will grant certain limited occupancy or other property rights back to the borrower, such as a lease of all or part of the property, an option to purchase later, or a right of first refusal should someone else make a reasonable offer once the Deed is executed and recorded. (Don’t expect this though. In general, lenders want the property with clear title and without any encumbrances.)

 

Disadvantages

  • A Deed in Lieu does not clear second (or even third) mortgages, and therefore will not allow the lender to take clear title to the property. (These are sometimes referred to as junior liens.) And if the Deed in Lieu is accepted, the secondary lender may come after you for the deficiency.
  • The canceled debt may generate a large tax liability, depending on the amount of the mortgage that was remaining at the time.
  • Borrower loses all equity in the property. Since this is a blanket surrender, if the equity exceeds the mortgage amount owed, the borrower will not receive the difference from the lender as they would in a short sale.
  • If the property is not in good condition, the lender may not agree to a Deed in Lieu if the outstanding note exceeds the current fair market value of the property.
  • This option will not likely be offered by the lender, so the borrower must know about and actively pursue this option. The lender must be sure that a Deed in Lieu is voluntary, and so will wait for a written offer from the borrower.
  • The lender may reject an offer for a Deed in Lieu if the property has equity or the federal government is providing financial incentives to the bank to foreclose.
  • Most lenders will not allow you to buy another home immediately after you have executed a Deed in Lieu. Those lenders that buy loans in the second market (i.e. from other, smaller lenders) will not generally buy a note from a borrower who has been part of a Deed in Lieu arrangement for 4 years without extenuating circumstances – or 2 years with extenuating circumstances. Therefore, smaller lenders will be cautious about lending to you as well, even if you decide to downsize and can prove you can make the payments on your new mortgage. Always check, as these guidelines are constantly changing.

 

As with any property conveyance or complex debt elimination, always consult with an attorney specializing in such areas to make sure you are making the right decision for your situation. Remember that a Deed in Lieu of foreclosure is almost always in the best interest of the lender, but it may not be for the borrower. You want to make sure you are doing the right thing. Contact Veitengruber Law; we can help with the tough decisions.

After Foreclosure: What is the Legal NJ Eviction Process?

nj eviction

What is a Sheriff’s Sale in NJ?

At Veitengruber Law, we understand the intricacies surrounding losing a property or navigating the options one may have when their property is in jeopardy. Part of understanding New Jersey law and the legal NJ eviction process may also involve understanding what a Sherriff’s Sale is, and we can help.

 

A Sheriff’s Sale in NJ is a sale handled by a Sheriff that is ordered by a court when the owner has unsuccessfully paid the judgment. According to New Jersey law, a Sheriff’s Sale is navigated within the local rules of each County Sheriff’s Department, and takes place at each said office. Anyone interested in purchasing a Sheriff’s Sale property can easily find the list of real estate properties available online at the county court website or at the actual Sheriff’s Department during normal business hours.

 

A Sheriff’s Sale (when referring to real estate) generally involves a property that is in danger of/or in foreclosure. The property is sold “as is” and any money generated from the Sheriff’s Sale is applied toward the outstanding lien owed on the judgment. If someone were to become the highest bidder at the sale, they would be required to place a deposit on the property, while understanding the risk of losing the property and part of the deposit in accordance with New Jersey law. The risk of the buyer losing the property has to do with the New Jersey law that states the debtor has a 10 day redemption period in which they may try to pay the lien and recover their property or object to the sale formally through court. If the 10 day redemption period expires and the new buyer pays the the sale price in full, the transaction is deemed complete and the title will then be given to the buyer.


What Happens Next?

The process following a Sherriff’s Sale can be confusing and frustrating, but we can expertly help you navigate this next phase. Once the new owner is in possession of the deed to the home, they cannot simply “kick you out” – this is illegal and would be considered an Unlawful Detainer. New Jersey law has specific rules about the eviction process and the steps that must occur for official eviction to take place.

 

The first step the new buyer must take is to file for a Writ of Possession which allows the County Sherriff to evict any occupants of the home. The County Sherriff then has to deliver notice to the occupants, at which point you have several choices. You could wait out the 30-90 day time-frame and attempt to save money to be prepared to move out of the property. Another option for you may be to ask for “cash for keys” where the new buyer may be inclined to cover moving out expenses for you to leave the home sooner. Veitengruber Law could also help you navigate other options such as a hearing to stay the eviction in front of a judge where you would appear before the judge with valid concrete reasons to postpone the eviction. The final resort could be filing a bankruptcy petition, in which case an automatic stay would occur and the eviction process would be halted indefinitely.

 

How Do I Determine What is the Best Option?

 

Veitengruber Law can help you understand all of your options, and we strongly urge you to take advantage of our expertise! Call today for your FREE one-hour comprehensive consultation to start understanding what the right answer is for YOU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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