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.

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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

What a NJ Foreclosure Defense Attorney Can Do for You


Unfortunately, New Jersey has the dismal “honor” of being the state with the highest number of active foreclosures. To say that NJ has a bit of trouble with foreclosures would be a massive understatement.


Are you in the process of going through foreclosure of your home? Perhaps it’s just a “potential foreclosure” looming at this point. You’re probably trying to decide whether or not you should attempt to go through the foreclosure process alone or whether you should invest in a foreclosure defense attorney. Are you looking for more information regarding how an attorney might make the process easier?

To begin, let’s cover a few basic points about foreclosure. A foreclosure occurs when the bank or lender takes possession of your home or property if you fail to make the required mortgage payments. Typically, if you do not make 3 mortgage payments, the bank or lender will issue a Notice of Intention to Foreclose. Before issuing a Complaint, they are required to send the notice at least 30 days ahead of time. As soon as you receive the notice, you should contact a foreclosure defense attorney, as you only have 35 days to respond and 60 days to request foreclosure mediation.

It may come as a surprise to you that lenders don’t actually want to take your property from you; they would much rather you be able to make the monthly payments. If you are at risk of losing your home to foreclosure, a foreclosure defense attorney can help you fight to lower your monthly payments and allow you to keep your home.

Your foreclosure defense attorney will strive to:

  • File a Notice of Appearance (NOA) – This is filed with the court or bank to allow the attorney to enter into the case and fight for you. Following this, the bank will send all information to the attorney rather than force you to act as an intermediary.

 

  • Decrease the original amount of your loan – For example, your attorney could potentially lower your original loan amount from $500,000 to $450,000. It’s possible that the lender may be willing to take a small loss in place of you ceasing to make any mortgage payments.

 

  • Assist in acquiring a loan modification – This may be the only way to permanently keep your home. The positive here is that there are no costs associated with modifying your loan, but it can be quite difficult to obtain one on your own. Your original mortgage may have had a high interest rate (10%), but lowering it to a rate of 6 or 7% will significantly reduce the amount you pay in interest over a lifetime.

 

  • Apply foreclosure defense techniques – It’s possible that he or she will argue that the plaintiff has an unrealistic mortgage assignment and lacks the appropriate standing to foreclose. In addition, the attorney may argue for unfair lending practices. Various strategies have been known to delay foreclosure for years.

 

  • Eliminate late charges – As you might already know, penalties and late fees accumulate quickly, but your attorney will attempt to wipe your slate clean. This will prevent you from having to dig yourself out of a hole just to get back to your baseline.

 

  • Extend the life of your loan – Your attorney may be able to lengthen the life of your loan, say from 20 years to 30 years, which will lower the monthly payment.

An attorney may also be able to prolong the amount of time you’re able to stay in your home. You could potentially enter into a foreclosure avoidance mediation program, which would be an alternative to foreclosure. With the help of mediation, you may be granted a short sale, loan modification, or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Normally, the foreclosing party is required to send you information on a mediation program, but an attorney can provide guidance through the process.

 


A foreclosure defense attorney can be extremely helpful in this daunting process, so don’t be afraid to reach out and contact a professional.


 

Short Sale vs Foreclosure: The Facts

When trying to decide between a short sale and foreclosure, sometimes it’s easier for homeowners to just throw in the towel and let the agent do the work. It is important to seek legal advice from a professional before making a decision, but allowing the bank to have complete control may not be the wisest decision. By becoming more informed about short sale vs. foreclosure, you will be able to make a more confident and educated decision regarding your home.

Process of Foreclosure

A foreclosure occurs when a lender takes ownership of the property and removes the borrower. This occurs when the borrower cannot make the mortgage payments on a consistent basis. Foreclosures can be done through a real estate agent or sold at an auction. The lender can then sell the foreclosed property and collect and recover the unpaid mortgage balance.

This process begins when the lender doesn’t make the mortgage payment for three to six months. The lender will notify the borrower of foreclosure and the reinstatement period, which allows the borrower time to resolve any disputes. The mortgage balance then needs to be paid off within three months, and if not, a notice of sale will be given to the homeowner.

Process of Short Sale

A short sale can be used as an alternative to a foreclosure because it bypasses the extra costs and fees for both parties involved, but it does require a large amount of paperwork. A short sale occurs when the homeowner cannot make mortgage payments and owes more than the current market value of the property. Lenders are often hesitant to accept short sale offers because the proceeds from selling the house often equate to less than the mortgage payment, which is known as a deficiency. Homeowners may still be obligated to pay these deficiencies even after a short sale agreement. The homeowner will put the house on the market and if he or she receives an offer, the bank also needs to approve it. The short sale process can take three to six months to closer. If a homeowner is experiencing hardship such as divorce, unemployment, family death, or job relocation, banks will be more likely to approve a short sale.

Effects on Credit Rating

Unfortunately, foreclosures can cause the borrower’s credit rating to decrease by 200 to 400 points and will remain on the report for seven years. On the other hand, short sale usually only causes a credit rating to fall 50 to 130 points and a credit report will state that the short sale was “settled,” “paid as agreed,” or “paid in less than full.”

Future Homeownership

After a home foreclosure, an individual can buy a house in five years with some restrictions, or in seven years with no restrictions. After a short sale, an individual may be able to buy a home immediately and the lender will not require the loan to be paid back.

Purchasing a Foreclosed or Short Sale Home

Typically, short sales home are better to buy than a foreclosed home because the property has been inhabited. The house and utilities have been maintained, but short sales can take a large amount of time to close. On the other hand, buying a foreclosed house is usually quicker and they are sold at lower prices.

For more info, whether you’re thinking about selling or buying a short sale/foreclosure, visit: https://www.veitengruberlaw.com/Real-Estate-Transactions/

              

How to Sell Your Home Before Your Lender Forecloses

nj bankruptcy attorney

Many times here on our bankruptcy blog, we describe situations where homeowners want to save their homes. Filing for bankruptcy sets the Automatic Stay into motion, which in turn prevents a home from being foreclosed upon. The length of the bankruptcy case and the anticipated outcome of a discharge of debts allows those homeowners (who desire it) the ability to adjust their debt-to-income ratio enough to keep their home via reaffirmation.

However, sometimes, a financially distressed homeowner doesn’t want to save their home. They may wish to downsize or move into a more affordable geographical location. Foreclosure, then, is not their ideal outcome, because they’ll end up with no money from the sale of the home, their credit scores will drop, and they could end up owing a deficiency judgment.

In these situations, selling the home is the desired outcome.

What’s the problem, then? Just sell the house and get on with things, right? The dilemma arises when homeowners have fallen behind on their mortgage payments and their lender is threatening to foreclose before they have a chance to get the house listed on the market.

If you do not want to keep your current house, but you’re simply short on time due to the immediate threat of foreclosure and sheriff’s sale, you’re in luck. You came to the right place, because we can help gain you enough time to get your property sold to a proper buyer rather than through a foreclosure bidding auction.

Why not just let your home go to foreclosure sale? A sale’s a sale, right?

Actually, no. Very, very much NO. However, many homeowners who’ve found themselves face-to-face with a foreclosure don’t realize they can take action toward an end goal of selling their home even when the home is actively being foreclosed upon. That’s right – this is possible even if you’re behind on your mortgage payments – or not making them at all.

Homes that sell via foreclosure auction or “sheriff’s sale” (find out why it’s called that here) almost always sell for significantly less than their real time market value. That is the #1 reason that you should consider trying to list your home for sale before sheriff’s sale.

For those homeowners who know they cannot continue living and maintaining their current lifestyle (i.e. high mortgage payments and property taxes), the last thing needed is the possibility of a deficiency judgement.

A deficiency judgement isn’t the only reason to avoid foreclosure.

By beating your lender to the punch and selling your home before they have a chance to pull the rug out from under you, you gain the opportunity for a substantially higher sale price. This will guarantee that all of your missed payments, late fees and interest is paid back to your lender, causing a domino effect of good results:

  1. Your foreclosure will be dismissed.
  2. You may end up with some equity in your pocket.
  3. Other dischargeable debts can be eliminated or greatly reduced.

Filing for bankruptcy in New Jersey should be viewed as a valuable tool that can be used to right a financial situation gone awry. The key to getting all of your ducks in a row, however, is working with the right NJ bankruptcy attorney. Timing is everything; don’t delay making a move on what can potentially turn into a disaster. Take action now, and you can walk right into a story with a happy ending.

 

Bidding on a NJ Foreclosure Property: The Lowdown

NJ foreclosure

Buying a home at a NJ foreclosure sale (or sheriff’s sale, as they are commonly called) can be a fantastic way to score a property at below-market price. While there are some risks and pitfalls to be aware of when bidding at a foreclosure auction, if you’re well-informed, you’ll likely come out of the process happy and (hopefully) successful!

Naturally, the most obvious advantage of purchasing a home via sheriff’s sale is the low price you’re likely to pay. Foreclosure sales are a great way to gain ownership of a rental property or a home you intend to “flip.” Homes that are being auctioned at a New Jersey foreclosure sale have been through the judicial foreclosure process that our state requires, and the lender has been permitted by the court to move forward with selling via auction.

How can I find out about upcoming NJ foreclosure sales?

This is one of the best parts about buying a foreclosed property in New Jersey. Sheriff’s sales are required to be advertised for a minimum of 30 days. You can find listings of upcoming sheriff’s sales in local newspapers for each county. Many jurisdictions also have sheriff’s sale listings online on their county court website.

How does a sheriff’s sale work?

In New Jersey, foreclosure auctions are controlled or led by the sheriff’s department of the property’s county. All local county rules must be followed, however, there are several general rules that are consistent across all counties, according to NJ law.

  1. NJ foreclosure properties up for sale must be sold subject to the first mortgage held on the property. This information can usually be found within the property’s first lien.
  2. Any NJ foreclosure sale will also be subject to any/all local state or federal liens on the property.

Because of the above information, all bidders at NJ sheriff’s sales would be remiss to fail to run a complete title search on the property in question before even considering bidding. Failure to do so could land you with a property that is deeply encumbered by multiple liens, for which you will be 100% responsible.

In New Jersey, foreclosure sales usually start with the lender being given an opportunity to open the bidding. Most lenders will start with a $100 bid. Bidding on the property continues via voice auction between all of the interested parties present at the auction.

The usual course of a NJ sheriff’s sale/auction continues with bidding the price of the property higher and higher until a highest bidder remains. If you are the lucky bidder, you will be required to pay a 20% deposit of your bid price.

Upon conclusion of the bidding, the sale is considered to have ended. However, the end of the sale triggers what is known as the Redemption Period. This is a ten day period during which the original owner (who was foreclosed upon) is allowed to “redeem” the property. This can only be done if the original owner can completely pay off the foreclosure judgement amount, including any additional fees and costs (and potential liens).

At the end of the Redemption Period, if the original homeowner does not choose to redeem the home, you will be given a sheriff’s sale deed. When you receive this deed, it is expected that you will make full payment of the balance of your successful auction bid. You’ll also have to handle any fines that accrued relating to the property, after which you will be able to officially transfer the title from the former owner to yourself!

NJ Foreclosure Sale: What is an Arm’s Length Transaction?

When a piece of real property is scheduled for NJ foreclosure sale (also known as and commonly referred to as the Sheriff’s Sale), an interested buyer, investor or “house hunter” may reach out directly to the homeowner. Even when a homeowner’s property is in foreclosure with the Sheriff’s Sale scheduled, they (the owner) have the legal right to attempt to sell the home.

A home that is in NJ foreclosure is likely to sell at Sheriff’s Sale for substantially less than its real value. This can end with the original homeowner owing the lender the difference between how much they still owed on their mortgage loan and the foreclosure sale price. This is called a deficiency, and although lenders do not always pursue a deficiency judgement from the court, sellers should know that it is always a possibility.

Armed with information about a potential deficiency judgement, a homeowner going through the foreclosure process is smart to attempt to find a buyer before the Sheriff’s Sale date. In fact, should the homeowner find an “arm’s length” buyer prior to the foreclosure sale, it’s good news all around. The lender doesn’t have to move forward with their sale, which saves them time and money, and of course, the original homeowner may very well receive a better offer outside of a Sheriff’s Sale. Lastly, the new buyer can feel good about purchasing a foreclosure property before it is up for public sale, eliminating the competition.

What is an Arm’s Length Transaction?

When a homeowner’s lender moves forward with foreclosure, the homeowner still retains ownership and the ability to sell the property before the Sheriff’s Sale, but there are several stipulations in order to guarantee that a seller in this situation can only sell to a party who is considered an Arm’s Length buyer.

For a transaction like this to be considered fair, New Jersey real estate laws state that both the buyer and the seller must not be in any kind of relationship that is closer than “arm’s length.” The following are examples of relationships that are not arm’s length, and therefore would not be ideal buyers before the Sheriff’s Sale:

  • Family members
  • Close friends
  • Employer/employee
  • Parent company/subsidiary
  • Trust/beneficiary

As long as the homeowner is negotiating with someone who is not acting in the homeowner’s best interest (for example, a parent buying the home below market value only to allow their child, the seller, to keep living there), the end result of a transaction prior to foreclosure sale is typically a good idea.

An Arm’s Length Transaction must involve two parties who are independently acting for their own self-interest. Also, the best and fairest deal that is close to the home’s market value should ultimately be the goal of this type of transaction.

Is it Illegal to Participate in a Non-Arm’s Length Transaction?

While it is not necessarily illegal to sell to a non-arm’s length buyer, when a homeowner is already immersed in the foreclosure process, it is advisable to follow the recommendations of an experienced NJ foreclosure/real estate attorney. Ask your attorney to hook you up with a reputable tax professional as well, because transferring property to a non-arm’s length buyer comes with additional tax implications.

Learn more about your rights during foreclosure!