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

NJ Mortgage Help for Single Parents

Going through a separation and divorce is never easy, but the complication level increases when you add children to the mix. Establishing a stable family life for your kids is something every good parent strives to do, and divorce can throw a wrench into even the best laid plans.

Supporting the expenses required as a newly single parent is a daunting task as you attempt to maintain as much constancy and normalcy for your children as possible. To that end, the marital/family home is most often where divorced parents elect for their children to remain living.

With that being said, finances don’t always stretch far enough for one parent on their own to pay the mortgage on that family home, along with all other monthly expenses. If both parents are able to pitch in financially to keep the children and one parent in the home, the chances of losing the home are lower. However, the threat of foreclosure for recently divorced single parents is real, and although frightening, it is not something that will go away if you ignore it.

If you are a single parent fighting to keep the home your children have thus far grown up in, you may be overwhelmed by the responsibility of making that monthly mortgage payment on your own. Missed payments are common after significant life events like job loss, illness, death, and, you guessed it – divorce.

The bank will never throw me out since I have young children, right?

Unfortunately, too many people simply give banks and lenders a lot more credit than they deserve. Your bank does not care if you have children, an elderly parent, three sick dogs and a chronic illness – their bottom line is money. You may think, “But there are people working at that bank; surely there is someone there with enough empathy to see that I am struggling.”

While that may be true – of course there are kind people working in banks and lending institutions – they must follow the instructions they are given by their superiors. A mortgage loan that is not being paid on time or at all WILL be sent into foreclosure by the lender. The question is not “If” but “When.”

How can I keep the bank from foreclosing? I just need a little more time!

The best move you can make if you’re in a similar situation is to take action before your home is foreclosed upon by your lender. You may qualify for a loan modification or refinancing. A New Jersey foreclosure and bankruptcy attorney should be the next person you call. Not many attorneys specialize in both areas, so it is important that you work to find a certified NJ attorney who has the experience you need.

Why do I need a bankruptcy attorney? I’m not broke and I want to keep my home.

An experienced NJ attorney who handles both foreclosure defense and bankruptcy matters will be able to stall your foreclosure by using the Automatic Stay. This tactic can only be utilized if the debtor files for bankruptcy.

Even if filing for bankruptcy was not on your top ten list of things to accomplish in life, it is a means to an end that has helped a multitude of people in your exact situation before.

 

Image: “Mother’s Moment” by Leonid Mamchenkov – licensed under CC 2.0

Bankruptcy Law and Family Law: How They’re Connected

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Anyone who has been through a divorce knows that, second only to your love life, your finances are often the hardest hit area during a split. Many people continue to have financial difficulties long after their divorce is finalized, as well. Family lawyers who handle divorce cases know from experience that financial strife can be a huge contention between divorcing couples.

While your family law attorney will assist you in creating a Property Settlement Agreement that settles some of your money troubles (you may begin receiving child support or alimony payments after the divorce is finalized), oftentimes divorced couples will struggle with things like losing their family home to foreclosure, credit card debt, and potential bankruptcy.

As much as your divorce attorney may want to assist you with all of the above money matters, they have to focus their attention on everything within their own wheelhouse to ensure that you (and their other clients) achieve the desired outcome from your divorce. Their duties are many, and include drafting your PSA, attending court dates, negotiating and corresponding with counsel for your soon-to-be ex-spouse, handling domestic violence matters, and much more.

Frequently, family law attorneys find it very beneficial to work in tandem with an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy, real estate and/or debt relief. Because financial strain is a given in most divorces, it can be helpful for everyone involved to work as a team. Your divorce (family law) attorney will walk you through all of the steps of your divorce. With your permission, ideally he would then discuss your case with his tandem bankruptcy attorney, whom you would then work with to clean up your finances.

Of course, family law attorneys attend to matters other than divorce, like name changes, parenting time, grandparents’ rights, pre-nuptial agreements, child custody (unrelated to divorce), adoption, restraining orders, and domestic violence. Some of these matters can also be made easier by working with an attorney who specializes in finances. For example, the financial aspect of adoption matters can be quite intense. While your family law attorney will handle much of the adoption paperwork, he can refer you to a financial specialist like Veitengruber Law if you need more help organizing the necessary finances.

Every attorney has a lot on their plate every single day, regardless of their practice area(s). The best attorneys limit their focus to a limited number of practice areas so as not to get overwhelmed and spread too thin. If your family law attorney attempts to do it all himself, you may find that he’s too busy to set aside time to keep you updated on your case. On the other hand, a smart divorce lawyer will say, “Hey, while I’m working on negotiating your child visitation schedule, why don’t you go see George Veitengruber to start sorting out the fact that you can’t afford your mortgage payment?”

When attorneys work together, their clients always have a better result. Mutually beneficial relationships between experienced professionals give clients a well-rounded experience and optimal outcome. Veitengruber Law welcomes family lawyers in New Jersey (Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties) to reach out to our firm if and when your clients need our services. We will gladly return the favor so that our mutual clients are well-cared for and happy with our services.

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Multi-Generational Living Arrangements & Home Ownership Rights

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Today’s modern families are ever-shifting in a multitude of directions, some of which were made possible by the evolution of our nation’s legal system. Still other present-day families form when an adult “child” returns to live at home after attending college, job loss, divorce, or simply by choice. Additionally, many older parents live with a daughter or son and their family in order to cut costs and to share child-rearing duties of the next generation.

Regardless of the reason, the changing structure of the typical American family can raise some questions about ownership of the family home. When other adults outside of the original home owner live together, what are their rights if that homeowner passes away?

Example: Single mom Nicole and her mother decide the best course of action after Nicole’s divorce is for the two of them to move in together. Nicole’s husband kept the marital home, so Nicole and her two children move into her mother’s more-than-ample house. As Nicole’s father passed away several years ago, this decision will allow companionship for Nicole’s mother, and will relieve the financial burden on both women.

Something important for Nicole and her mother to think about is what will happen to the home when Nicole’s mom passes away? Assuming the current living situation continues until such a time, what will Nicole’s rights be?

In New Jersey, Nicole and her mother can modify the home mortgage paperwork to include special language that will protect Nicole and her children from losing the home upon the death of her mom. The deed to the home must say that Nicole and her mother are joint tenants with right of survivorship.

Joint tenancy means that both parties named own the property equally, and upon the death of one of them, the deed to the home will automatically transfer to the other, superseding anything that is stated in the decedent’s will.

If Nicole’s mother had previously created a will indicating that upon her death, her home should be divided equally between all three of her children (Nicole and her two siblings), as long as the proper language was added onto the title documentation, Nicole should have no problem being granted full ownership of the home.

While in theory this is a relatively simple concept, it must be handled with the utmost seriousness and attention to detail.  As has happened in the past, if the joint tenancy language is not used precisely as required, legal disputes can and likely will arise.

Do you have questions about your rights to real property that you shared with another family member or unrelated roommate who has now passed away? If you were not joint tenants, you may still have some recourse, but you will have to act swiftly and with the aid of a very experienced NJ estate planning/real estate attorney.

If you’re currently in a situation like Nicole’s, be proactive and make sure that your living arrangements are solidified for the future by taking title of the home in joint tenancy.

Image credit: Bryan Anthony

Can a NJ Lender Foreclose for Late Payments Only?

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Like millions of Americans who own their own homes, your largest monthly bill is most certainly your mortgage payment. This is especially true if you’ve wrapped your property taxes in with your mortgage loan. Paying your mortgage each month can feel physically painful at times, especially if you have to write out all of those numbers on a paper check. OUCH.

Nonetheless, you obviously knew what you signed up for when you applied for your current mortgage, so its appearance each month doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise. Why, then, are so many Americans habitually late in paying for this particular loan?

The answer to that is simple. A large percentage of homeowners in this country are living paycheck to paycheck – earning just enough money every month to fulfill their financial obligations. This leads to tense moments when there simply aren’t sufficient funds in the bank to make the huge mortgage payment without fear of bouncing a check.

Nobody wants to bounce a check – we all know that. The hassle combined with added fees from your bank AND your lender mean that bouncing a check is an extremely costly mistake. Instead of potentially writing a check that can’t be cashed, many homeowners simply wait until their bank account has enough money to fulfill the mortgage payment. Sometimes this means the mortgage payment gets sent in a few days (or weeks) late.

The question here, is: Can a lender foreclose on a homeowner if they are chronically late with their mortgage payment? To clarify, we’re talking about a borrower who hasn’t actually missed any payments and technically isn’t “behind” on their mortgage – only slightly late with nearly every payment.

The short answer is that almost no lender will move toward foreclosure if the borrower isn’t actually behind on payments. That’s not to say it has never happened, but if it has, it’s exceedingly rare. In most cases, lenders don’t send out ‘Intent to Foreclose’ notices until a borrower has missed 3 full mortgage payments. Some lenders will threaten foreclosure after one missed payment, but as long as you can bring the mortgage current, they back down.

What can happen to you if you consistently pay your mortgage (or any other monthly bills) late is that your credit score can drop. Even though you may avoid foreclosure, late payments are often reported to credit reporting agencies, and each late payment will ding your score a few points. If you’re late every month for a year, your score may have dropped over 100 points.

If you’re currently struggling to pay your mortgage in a timely manner, there are some things you can do. First, check your credit score to see how much damage you’ve done. That gives you a good starting point. Next, get in touch with your lender and tell them why you’re having trouble paying on time. You may benefit from changing the time of month that your payments are due, paying online, or paying via telephone when your bank account is primed and ready.

If none of the above options is enough to alleviate your tardiness, you may benefit from applying for a NJ loan modification. You can apply for one on your own, but many times a real estate attorney can negotiate with your lender much more effectively, working to extend the life of the loan, reduce the principal amount due, erase late fees, and maybe even lower the interest rate on the loan. One or a combination of these modifications can make paying your mortgage on time much more manageable.

 

Image credit: John Lloyd

Second Mortgages After Foreclosure: Who Pays?

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What is a second mortgage?

Oftentimes, when applying for a home loan, first time home buyers don’t have enough money to make a substantial down payment. Typically, lenders don’t like to grant loans for more than 80% of the price of a home. Lending so much money to a borrower is risky, so banks who do so will require that the buyers purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI). Mortgage insurance is expensive, so borrowers try to avoid it by applying for two separate mortgage loans. The first loan granted is usually for a maximum of 80% of the purchase price, while the second mortgage covers the remaining cost of the home – typically around 20%.

Who can get a second mortgage?

In order to be approved for a second mortgage (also referred to as an 80/20 loan), you must have a very good credit rating. Because you won’t be making any down payment, you are a higher risk to your lenders. A high credit score (above 700) puts lenders at ease, knowing that you have a solid credit history.

What happens to a second mortgage after foreclosure?

Even well-qualified buyers can experience foreclosure. As they say, “Life happens,” and a variety of factors may cause you to become unable to continue making your monthly mortgage payments even if you had great credit when you bought your home. For example, you may have experienced:

  • Divorce
  • Chronic illness
  • Accident or injury that permanently reduced your earning potential
  • Job loss
  • Unforeseen expenses (death or disability of a close relative, job transfer, etc)

Upon foreclosure of your home, your primary mortgage lender (80%) will sell your home at Sheriff’s Sale/Foreclosure Sale in order to recoup at least some of the money you borrowed but were unable to repay. Any sale proceeds that exceed what you owed your primary lender will be used to pay back your second mortgage lender.

Home sold at foreclosure sale almost always sell for less than they are worth. This means that second mortgage lenders often don’t see any proceeds from foreclosure sales. The second lender is left holding the (empty) bag, as the saying goes.

Will I have to repay the second mortgage if the foreclosure sale price is below market value?

Naturally, this is a pressing question for homeowners who’ve lost their homes to foreclosure. No one decides to go through foreclosure because they have plenty of money floating around. If you’ve lost a home to foreclosure, you’re understandably concerned about the potential of a deficiency judgment.

A deficiency judgment is a legal action that a lender can take against you for the amount of money they lost when your home was sold at Sheriff’s Sale. Many lenders will write off the loss due to the cost and hassle of mounting a legal action. However, some lenders do indeed pursue a lawsuit against defaulted borrowers whose homes were sold at foreclosure for less than the amount still owed.

How can I repay my second mortgage? I’m already in financial distress!

If your second mortgage lender has threatened you with legal action unless you pay up, you need to be proactive by retaining counsel. You can file for bankruptcy, which will automatically prohibit ALL of your creditors from attempting to collect money from you. Your NJ bankruptcy attorney can also take other action to settle your second mortgage debt if you wish to avoid chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Image credit: Chris Potter

My Personal Property was Sold Without a Writ of Possession!

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If your mortgage was in default and your home entered the NJ foreclosure system, the end result is sale of the property at what is commonly called a sheriff’s sale. At the end of the foreclosure process, if you have not retained a NJ foreclosure defense attorney to help you keep your home, a judge will order the local sheriff’s office to sell the property at a public sale. All proceeds from the sale will be paid directly to your lender to help them recover at least some of the money they lost when your loan defaulted.

Many foreclosure clients wonder what will happen to all of their personal property inside the home after the sheriff’s sale. Without knowing your rights, you may risk losing valuable and sentimental items. Even for homeowners who have accepted the foreclosure of their home, the loss of everything inside the home may indeed be heartbreaking at a time that is already wrought with tension.

The legal angle here is that no one – not your lender, the sheriff’s office or the new owners of your home – has the right to remove your personal property without first legally informing you of their intentions to do so.

Writ of Possession: Translated

After your property is sold at sheriff’s sale (also commonly referred to as foreclosure sale), the law requires that a legal document called a Writ of Possession be filed before you may officially be forced to vacate your home. The same must occur before anyone may remove any of your personal belongings from the property.

If you have experienced the loss of your home via foreclosure, and subsequently, sheriff’s sale, you need to be served with a copy of this Writ of Possession before anyone can “kick you out of” your home.

The Writ of Possession is essentially an order directly from the court to the sheriff’s office, granting them permission to officially evict you (and all of your belongings) within one day. If you have been served with a Writ of Possession (they are typically required to be posted on the front door of the property), please be aware that you have 24 hours to vacate and to take anything with you that you wish to keep.

Sometimes distressed New Jersey homeowners are not formally living in the home at the time of the Sheriff’s Sale, therefore they do not receive proper notice regarding the Writ of Possession. If this has happened to you, and your personal belongings were removed from your home without warning, you may have a valid cause of action.

It is important that you retain the services of an experienced New Jersey attorney who specializes in mortgages (real estate matters) and foreclosure defense. This type of attorney will be an expert at dealing with the NJ foreclosure system and all of its nuances, which will translate to the best results for you and your family.

If you are currently struggling to pay your mortgage and would like to avoid foreclosure at all costs, your foreclosure defense attorney will be able to counsel you on how to keep your home. To schedule a free consultation with Veitengruber Law to explore your options, click here!

 

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Have You Been a Foreclosure Scam Victim?

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We’ve talked about foreclosure defense scams before – these happen to homeowners who realize they’re facing foreclosure but don’t think they can afford a foreclosure attorney to help them save their home. Desperate, they look for the cheapest option available to them, which usually comes in the form of a company that claims to be able to save any home from foreclosure for much less than the cost of hiring a lawyer.

Foreclosure defense scam artists lead homeowners to believe that they are working hard at saving their home from Sheriff’s Sale, requesting additional fees time and time again, drawing out the “process” as long as possible in order to suck as much money out of you as they can. Usually, little to no process is being made to keep your home out of foreclosure, and by the time you finally discover the truth, the fraudulent “company” will have vanished and moved on to another city with new homeowners to take advantage of.

Coming at this from a different angle, some homeowners are victims of foreclosure scammers with a twist. Instead of falsely claiming to help struggling homeowners to stay out of foreclosure, these fraud artists target those homeowners who are nearly or already in foreclosure.

Falsely claiming to have purchased the home at Sheriff’s Sale, this type of foreclosure scam has several red flags that should go up loud and clear. Firstly, if someone really did buy your house, you would have been notified that your home’s foreclosure sale was coming up.

Because New Jersey’s foreclosure process is judicial, every step of the process must be completed via the court system. As the homeowner, you will be served with official forms alerting you to your lender’s intent to foreclose, the actual foreclosure complaint and a final offer allowing you a chance to bring your defaulted mortgage current. Even if you do not respond to a single court document that you receive and foreclosure goes through, you will still be notified regarding the date of the sale of your home (BEFORE it takes place).

Therefore, if someone calls you on the phone or physically shows up at your door claiming to be the rightful owner via Sheriff’s Sale, be on high alert. Unless you have been out of the country or for any reason have not been retrieving your mail, there is absolutely no way someone could have purchased your home without your knowledge. Again: they couldn’t purchase your home because no sale will be held without you receiving notification.

If one thing’s certain, it’s that scammers are often quite persistent in their quest to deceive and make money. Some con artists will reappear multiple times, insisting that the home is now in their possession. They may present you with a set of demands, such as:

  • You can continue to live in the home as long as you pay them rent money.
  • The property taxes and HOA dues (if any) must be paid by you.
  • You must find a new place to live (AKA eviction) if you don’t meet their demands.

As you can see, this type of scheme allows the scammer(s) to get rich by scaring homeowners into paying them rent. There have been reports of homeowners who unfortunately fell for this type of conspiracy because the scammer produced official-looking documents. A little checking would have shown that none of the documents were signed by a judge, making them invalid in the judicial foreclosure State of New Jersey.

If you feel that you may potentially be the victim of a New Jersey foreclosure scam, you must take action immediately. Do not sign any papers presented to you without a NJ foreclosure attorney at your side. If possible, obtain copies of the “documents” that you were shown and bring them all with you to your first consultation with your New Jersey real estate lawyer, who may be able to help you recover any monies you’ve lost and will definitely be able to legitimately assist you in saving your home.

 

Image credit: Widjaya Ivan

Cleaning Up Abandoned Homes in New Jersey

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Homeowners in New Jersey who’ve fallen behind on their mortgage payments and have received notice of foreclosure on their home from their lender actually have a number of options. Depending on their financial situation, desire to keep their home and other case-specific factors, it is quite possible to make a responsible and sound decision even after falling into foreclosure.

Unfortunately, a significant number of NJ residents simply don’t know enough about the foreclosure process. Fueled by fear of eviction by their lender, a lot of distressed homeowners flee the scene, putting as much distance between themselves and their foreclosed property as possible.

“Out of sight, out of mind?”

The problem with this strategy is that the foreclosure timeline in New Jersey is significant, often taking many, many months for a single foreclosure case to reach completion. The abandoned properties left by vanishing homeowners must sit, unoccupied, while their paperwork slowly makes its way through the court system.

During this time period, the home and lot it sits on become an eyesore: grass and weeds grow to exorbitant heights, and the structure itself is often vandalized. Word of zombie homes travels quickly, and unfortunately to the wrong people. Abandoned homes often turn into crack houses and are frequently stripped of things like copper pipes and copper wiring, which are then sold. These types of activities not only cause significant damage to the property, but also create fear among neighbors while simultaneously causing local property values to plummet.

Zombie foreclosures are problematic around the country, but because New Jersey has the highest foreclosure rate in the US, the number of abandoned homes in the garden state has spurred some towns into action.

This action comes in the form of creating a record of all foreclosure properties so that town or county officials have contact information for responsible parties. This will enable town leaders to ensure that empty properties don’t fall into disrepair and that illegal activities aren’t occurring inside the homes.

Participating municipalities are requiring that all foreclosure properties be registered with the town by the responsible party. If the homeowner has left town and is unreachable, the onus for registration (including paying the registration fee) falls on the lender or lien holder.

For now, individual towns set their own registration fees, which are currently ranging from $100 to several hundred dollars. Part of the process involves filing a ‘Registration and Maintenance of Properties Pending Foreclosure’ form with the town’s clerk. An example of information requested on this form includes:

  • Property location information: Block number, lot number and physical address
  • Identification of the party responsible for the property: Homeowner, lender, lien holder, trustee, management company, agent, or other.
  • Contact information of responsible party: Name, address and current phone number where an in-state person can be reached in the event of a problem with the property in question.

A property checklist will also be included on the registration form. The responsible party must certify that all of the following items are attended to:

  • Grass/weeds must be kept under 10 inches high.
  • Dead trees, fallen tree limbs and dead shrubbery must be removed.
  • Snow shall be removed from any public sidewalks as needed.
  • Waste, trash and other rubbish is to be cleared from the property.
  • No illegal or hazardous activity shall be performed on the property.
  • Standing water should not accumulate anywhere on the property.
  • All enclosures (fences and gates) are to be maintained and functional.
  • Any pools or hot tubs must be kept clean and either maintained or drained so as to not attract mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Pools must be kept covered whether full or drained to prevent accidents.
  • Basements must be kept watertight and clear of rodents.
  • Exterior walls shall be maintained and kept free of holes and rotting wood so as to protect the interior of the home from water and rodents.
  • Doors and windows are to be kept in stable and locking condition to prevent unauthorized entry.
  • The roof must be in good condition so that water does not enter the home.
  • The exterior siding, brick, stone, trim, soffits, moldings and any other decorative material is to be kept in good repair.
  • Chimney/flue must be functional and weather tight.
  • Exterior stairs, porches, balconies and walkways must be safe for use.
  • Street address (number) must be visible on the front of the house; the numerals must be at least three inches high and two inches wide.

Failure to comply with anything contained on the registration form may lead to the summons of the responsible party by the municipal court.

Hopefully more New Jersey towns will initiate the foreclosure registration process in the near future, keeping our neighborhoods cleaner, safer and more attractive while we slowly bounce back from the housing crisis.

Image credit: darkday

Can My Homeowners’ Association Foreclose on My Home?

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You’d have to be living with your head in the sand not to know that failure to pay your mortgage will eventually result in foreclosure by your lender.

Banks and other mortgage lending firms generally only care about one thing when it comes to loans they’ve granted, and that is: getting their money back. When approving mortgage loans, lenders are extremely selective for a reason. They want to ensure that you will be able to handle the repayment schedule of your loan.

Failure to do so, even missing a single mortgage payment, sets off a red flag within most lending corporations. You will be contacted soon after a payment due date elapses. If you missed a payment due to forgetfulness, your lender will do everything they can to collect the payment (almost assuredly with a late fee attached) from you over the phone.

Further missed payments will force your lender’s hand into filing foreclosure against you, which can ultimately lead to the  repossession of your home. Although it may seem drastic, banks and lending companies depend on borrowers’ loan payments in order to stay in business.

As New Jersey foreclosure rates have soared over the past few years, most homeowners have become familiar with the concept of foreclosure for failure to pay their monthly mortgage bill. What many New Jerseyans don’t know is that their mortgage lender isn’t the only entity that can foreclose on their home.

Many New Jersey residents live in housing developments that are ‘governed’ by homeowners’ associations. These organizations, often referred to as HOAs, are in charge of making rules for the development and, in turn, enforcing those rules. Residents must pay monthly dues to their HOA, as they also oversee the care, upkeep and repair of common areas in the development.

HOA dues in New Jersey typically range from $200-$400 per month, but can be more or less depending on several factors, including: the average property value within the development and the existing amenities that require maintenance (tennis courts, swimming pools, parking garages, fitness centers, security systems and gates, landscaping and more).

When facing financial difficulties, many homeowners in New Jersey stop making their HOA payments and keep making their mortgage payments, thinking that this will keep them out of foreclosure. Unfortunately, that simply isn’t the case.

Falling behind on your homeowners’ association dues can result in your HOA putting a lien on your property. Failure to bring your past due HOA fees current gives your homeowners’ association the right to foreclose, even if you are current on your mortgage!

Just as lenders must file foreclosure via the NJ legal system, so must homeowners’ associations. This means that your HOA can file a foreclosure lawsuit against you in the same manner that your lender can if you stop making mortgage payments.

What happens to my mortgage in the case of a HOA foreclosure?

If your homeowners’ association successfully forecloses on your home, it can either continue making mortgage payments to your lender or not make any payments. Many HOAs will rent out the property (while making no mortgage payments) and wait for the lender, whose liens take precedence over the HOA’s liens, to file a second foreclosure.

Either way, the homeowners’ association will achieve its goal of reducing or resolving its financial loss caused by your failure to pay your HOA dues. Takeaway: your mortgage payment and your homeowners’ association dues are equally important, and failure to pay either can cause you to lose your home to foreclosure.

 

Image credit: dodoyf