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

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Veitengruber Law: Working with Elder Lawyers

 

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Elder law is the legal practice that focuses on representing senior citizens in regards to age-specific issues like: estate planning, Medicaid, disability, long-term care, administration of wills, guardianship, commitment, elder abuse protection, end-of-life planning, nursing home care and contracts, and many other issues that may arise in the aging population.

Essentially, elder law attorneys have a loaded job description: representing older Americans in just about any legal area you can think of. As you can imagine, it can be a bit overwhelming if a client (or couple) has a lot of needs at the same time.

Attorneys who get the best results for their clients are those who have a narrow area of focus. This allows them to become experts in their practice area(s) in order to both expedite the processes required by their clients and to get reliable, high quality results. Elder law attorneys who concentrate solely on elder law are consistently great at what they do.

Even so, the elder law attorney may still find himself overloaded with work from time to time, when, as mentioned above, a particular client requires a lot of attention. Additionally, any attorney can get overwhelmed if they have a sudden rush of new clients.

Elder law attorneys assist a specific type of client (the aging) in a variety of areas. This makes them the perfect partner for an attorney who specializes in specific areas rather than type of client.

Example: Elderly clients Fay and John come to your elder law practice wanting to set up their estate plans. They have a lot of assets (but not a lot of money), numerous beneficiaries and stipulations, and present a rather challenging and time consuming case. In addition to estate planning, Fay is also having issues with Medicaid that need attention, and John’s sister has just entered a nursing home wherein they suspect she is being neglected and/or abused.

On top of all of that, Fay and John stopped paying their mortgage six months ago and are about to lose their home to foreclosure. Although they knew foreclosure was inevitable, they’ve now realized that renting or buying another home will cost more than they were already paying their mortgage company each month. They want to know how they can save their home, which is scheduled for Sheriff’s Sale in two weeks.

The best option for their elder law attorney in this situation would be to connect them with a local foreclosure defense attorney who has significant experience in “last minute” foreclosure saves. By working together, both attorneys can provide everything Fay and John need so that they can continue living comfortably in retirement.

Other reasons to consider taking a “tag team” approach to an elder law practice include: clients who need to file for bankruptcy, real estate contract review, landlord/tenant disputes, credit repair, debt resolution and elder fraud.

Veitengruber Law is a full-service real estate and debt relief solutions law firm in New Jersey helping clients with foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, credit repair and other debt relief problems. We welcome any elder law attorneys who’d like to collaborate in order to give our joint clients the best results possible through retirement and beyond. We have offices in Monmouth, Burlington and Camden Counties and also serve Ocean, Mercer and Gloucester county clients.

Connect with us on LinkedIn, shoot us an email or give us a call. Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer Counties – (732) 852-7295; Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties – (609) 297-5226 or (856) 318-2759.

Image credit: C.Performa

Can I File for Bankruptcy to Delay Foreclosure on My Home?

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Filing for bankruptcy isn’t only helpful for alleviating excessive debt, although we primarily associate the two together. Sometimes, filing for bankruptcy can be used as a strategy of sorts in order to allow you and your attorney enough time to formulate an effective foreclosure defense strategy so that you can keep your home.

Another good time to file for bankruptcy is if you’re attempting to sell your home as a foreclosure defense strategy, but the real estate process is dragging on interminably. Bankruptcy’s automatic stay* feature will stall a foreclosure long enough to allow your real estate transaction adequate time to proceed.

I didn’t know I could sell my house during foreclosure!

Oftentimes, we hear stories of homeowners devastated and displaced because of lenders foreclosing on them and then selling the property after evicting the (former) homeowners. The typical foreclosure story involves people who’ve fallen on hard times financially. Because of significant money struggles, homeowners being foreclosed upon typically don’t want to leave their homes because they do not have the means to acquire a new place to live.

Due to the overwhelming stress that most foreclosed homeowners are under, many of them simply don’t take the time to learn about all of their options. Some people wait out the foreclosure, staying in their home as long as possible without paying the mortgage, yet failing to put a plan of action into place for their future. While it’s true that burying one’s head in the sand is an ineffective solution, for some, denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

At the end of the NJ foreclosure process your home will be sold at Sheriff’s Sale if you do nothing. Foreclosed homes typically sell for a lot less than is still owed on the homeowner’s mortgage. What this means for you as the homeowner is that your lender can seek a deficiency judgement that orders you to pay the difference between the Sheriff’s Sale price and the amount you still owe on the mortgage.

How can I avoid a deficiency judgement?

As soon as you start having money trouble that looks like it will likely end in foreclosure, list your home for sale! Yes, your home can be sold even if you aren’t making mortgage payments right now.

Selling your home before the bank has a chance to foreclose gives you a chance to achieve a higher sale price that will allow you to pay back any arrears and late fees, ensuring that your lender is paid in full. Doing so will cause a dismissal of the foreclosure and potentially put some of the equity (if you had any) into your bank account.

If your home has an offer from a seller when your lender is about to foreclose, filing for bankruptcy will activate that automatic stay* we mentioned earlier, giving you enough time to close the deal on your property before the bank has a chance to sell the home at a foreclosure sale for much less money.

Should I file for bankruptcy just to stall a foreclosure?

We don’t recommend that you file for bankruptcy if your only purpose is to delay a looming foreclosure sale, however most people facing foreclosure also have other debts that have gotten out of control.

If you have excessive medical debt, credit card debt, past-due personal loans and/or a second mortgage or home equity loan AND you’re looking a foreclosure square in the eye, filing for bankruptcy can help you hit the trifecta: discharge of your debts, foreclosure dismissal and successful sale of your home with potential equity in your pocket!

Image credit: Jabotdarobot

Can a Dementia Patient be Served with Foreclosure Papers?

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New Jersey now has more residents than ever who are age 70 or older. This is in part due to the post-war baby boom that occurred after World War II soldiers returned home to their wives in 1945. Americans are also living longer due to technological and scientific advances in the medical field that have brought about cures and/or successful long-term treatments for many diseases that used to be fatal.

While an increased life expectancy is definitely something to cheer about, the fact that more New Jersey residents are living longer also comes with some challenges. Although people are living longer due to advances in medicine, the natural aging process can’t be avoided altogether.

For example, many older Americans are in good physical health but suffer from some form of memory loss – ranging from minor short term difficulties to dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Caring for a loved one with dementia obviously presents a number of hurdles, most importantly monitoring them for their own safety.

What, then, is to be done when a family member with dementia has made a mess out of their finances because of their inability to remember to pay their bills?

This question is now asked a lot among adult children who are now caring for a parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s a good question, but one that you probably didn’t contemplate until said papers have already been served and you find yourself in the middle of a complex legal mess.

Example: An 80 year old man with dementia, who lost his wife four years ago, now resides in a nursing home. Upon his wife’s death, the man stopped making any payments on their mortgage due to his worsening symptoms of dementia and lack of income.

The man’s adult son has taken on the role of Power of Attorney, and is aware that no payments have been made on the home since his father moved into the nursing home. Assuming that any foreclosure paperwork would be sent to him as the POA, the son was simply waiting to receive notice of the foreclosure, which never came.

The adult son (POA) did not have the resources to save the family home and planned to let the house be sold at Sheriff’s Sale in the hopes that the situation would then be settled.

The man’s OTHER adult child, however, wasn’t privy to any of this information, as she lived across the country and could only visit on occasion due to her busy work schedule. As it turned out, she did have the means (and the desire) to save the family home.

Some family friends alerted the adult children to the fact that their father’s home was listed ‘For Sale’ in the local newspaper’s Sheriff’s Sale section. After doing some digging, they discovered that the lender had served their father with the foreclosure complaint.

Having no memory of this event, their father had no idea where the paperwork was or if he had signed anything.

Is it legal to serve a dementia patient with important legal papers?

As you can well imagine, it is both unethical and unlawful to do so. Rule 4:4-4.(3) regarding issuing a Complaint and Summons, reads as follows:

“Service of Summons, Writs and Complaints shall be made as follows…(3)Upon a mentally incapacitated person, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint personally to the guardian of the person of the mentally incapacitated individual or to a competent adult member of the household with whom the mentally incapacitated person resides, or if the mentally incapacitated person resides in an institution, to the director or chief executive officer thereof.

Do you have an elderly family member who has been served unlawfully with a foreclosure complaint? You MUST work closely with a NJ foreclosure defense attorney if you want to save the home in question! You do have rights, and Veitengruber Law can save your family home, but you must act quickly. Call or click now: (732) 852-7295.

Image credit: Pierre Honeyman

NJ Foreclosure and the Order to Show Cause

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A frequent topic here on the Veitengruber Law blog, foreclosures in New Jersey are still too numerous to count. Statistics show that the number of new foreclosures within the state are starting to decline, which is good news and tells us that the housing market is beginning to improve.

Since all NJ foreclosures are required to move through the judicial system, many of the existing foreclosure cases (that have been piling up since the Crash of 2008) are still causing long delays. New Jersey courts haven’t been able to get caught up because of the sheer number of foreclosure cases, and because of the many required steps that each case must follow.

Sometimes, because the current NJ foreclosure timeline is excessively long, homeowners can get too relaxed, thinking that they have all the time in the world to make any decisions about ‘life after foreclosure.’ It’s also common to want to ignore it, especially if it seems like nothing will ever happen.

In these cases, when their foreclosure nears the end of the process (Sheriff’s Sale), panic sets in. Properties that fall into foreclosure will be sold at a Sheriff’s Sale automatically if the homeowner doesn’t answer the original Complaint. This is known as an uncontested foreclosure.

In the event that your Sheriff’s Sale is imminent, and you (for whatever reason) left your foreclosure uncontested, the time to make a move is now. To do nothing means that your home will be sold at auction and you will be forced to move out, likely ten days after the date of the sale. Those ten days are known as the redemption period. If you can somehow afford to buy back your home, you can do so within those ten days and retain ownership of your home.

At Veitengruber Law, we’ve helped many clients who waited until ‘the last minute’ to make any decisions regarding their foreclosed home. There are several things we can do to help you save your home as long as the Sheriff’s Sale has not yet occurred – even if the sale is a few days away:

File for bankruptcy – Bankruptcy puts an automatic stay on any and all of your lenders, preventing them from attempting to collect on any of your debts. This includes your home lender, and the foreclosure process is halted until your bankruptcy case is resolved.

Short Sale – An alternative to foreclosure, short sale will still end with you losing your home. The difference between having your home sold at Sheriff’s Sale and selling it via short sale is that homes often sell for higher amounts at short sale. Additionally, your credit score will be much less severely impacted by a short sale instead of a foreclosure.

Order to Show Cause – The Order to Show Cause is a court application that can only be used in absolute emergencies wherein the petitioner (in this case, the homeowner) will be harmed irreparably without the help requested on the Order. In the foreclosure context, your attorney can file an Order to Show Cause if there has been an error in the foreclosure paperwork that will adversely effect the outcome of the case. It’s a long shot, but we’ve had success with this tactic before, gaining an additional 60 days for our clients to sell their home outside of the foreclosure.

We have many more “tricks” up our sleeves that have gotten out clients the results they wanted and needed time after time. If your foreclosure sale is approaching and you need help sorting out the details, call Veitengruber Law today so we can assist.

Image credit: Karen Neoh

 

Will NJ Ever Recover from the Mortgage Crisis?

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Some recent statistics show that some areas of New Jersey appear to be pulling out of the Mortgage Crisis (sometimes interchangeably called the Great Recession, the Housing Bubble, the Housing Recession and/or the Housing Crisis).

Rentals at many shore towns are on the rise again, overall sales in the state as a whole are on the incline, but foreclosures still have a tight grip on much of New Jersey. As you have probably read in the news, Atlantic City remains at the top of the nation’s list of cities with the most foreclosures. Trenton follows Atlantic City in a close second place – in the entire country.

Some pockets of New Jersey are experiencing an upswing in the number of homes being purchased, which has led to a sense of reassurance among homeowners in those areas. However, even though more properties are being sold in some New Jersey towns, overall home prices are far below where they were before the mortgage crisis, which started in 2007 and lasted until around 2009.

Unfortunately, there are a number of factors at play that are causing New Jersey’s cities and towns to struggle to turn things around like the neighboring cities of Philadelphia, PA and Brooklyn, NY have successfully done.

Primarily, New Jersey is one of the states wherein foreclosures must proceed through the court system, which makes the entire process lengthier, and when the Great Recession hit almost a decade ago, the number of NJ foreclosures severely clogged up the court systems.

The New Jersey foreclosure timeline stretched out to take years from start to finish. Additionally, at the end of the foreclosure process, foreclosed homes in NJ are sold at a Sheriff’s Sale, where many of the properties are purchased by speculators or investors.

Combine the effects of the recession coupled with damage done by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and what we’re left with is a large percentage of properties in the state of New Jersey that are now owned by corporations. In turn, the corporations typically rent out the properties, which draws a totally different type of dwellers.

Instead of the devoted members of the community, many towns across the state are now undergoing a demographic shift. Many former homeowners, outed because of foreclosure or damage from Sandy that they couldn’t afford to repair up to code, have been replaced with these new renters who simply aren’t as community-minded as the previous residents were.

Along with older New Jersey homeowners leaving the state because they lost their homes to foreclosure or Hurricane Sandy (or a combination of both), younger home buyers want to live close to mass transit for easy access to exciting urban areas.

What does all of this mean for New Jersey? The good news is that the rate of new foreclosures is slowing down, and the low home prices may very well be a result of homes that have finally reached the end of the foreclosure process and have made it to Sheriff’s Sale, where they’re sold cheaply.

While things still don’t look great in the New Jersey real estate market, and some towns may indeed undergo long-lasting demographic changes, the numbers are trending in the right direction. Real, lasting change may be in our state’s real estate market future, but it won’t happen overnight. As things are now, many New Jerseyans are still affected by foreclosure. If you’re one of them, Veitengruber Law can help.

Image credit: Matt_Lodi

How to Avoid a Foreclosure Defense Scam

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All too often, homeowners who are in danger of losing their home to foreclosure are under the impression that they can’t afford to pay for the assistance of an experienced foreclosure attorney.

This leads people to seek out alternatives to saving their home. You may have seen advertisements for services that make ‘too good to be true’ claims; they can often be found in local newspapers, on bulletin boards or on random signs near your home (often on telephone poles or staked into the ground.)

These “services” are very often scam artists disguised as a foreclosure defense or loan modification company. Typically, they’ll entice you by claiming to charge only a one-time flat fee amount that is less expensive than retaining a foreclosure defense attorney.

For that one-time flat fee, the scammer company will make lofty promises in relation to your specific money problems. If you’re about to lose your home to foreclosure, promises will be made to “save your home,” “stop the foreclosure,” “negotiate a loan modification,” etc.

While all of these false promises are being tossed around, the fraudulent foreclosure defense company may begin asking for more money in order to continue negotiations that have taken “longer than expected” or to initiate an automatic stay. Because of the addition of more and more fees, you will almost always end up paying a scammer a lot more money than a certified foreclosure defense lawyer!

Will a fraudulent foreclosure defense company actually help me save my home?

So, you’re thinking, “Ok; I may have gotten taken for more money than the deal I thought I was getting, but at least my house will not be sold at Sheriff’s Sale.” You may be kicking yourself for spending more than you had to, but as long as your foreclosure is stopped, you’ll probably feel somewhat relieved.

The problem with that line of thinking is that these foreclosure defense scammers don’t actually plan on doing any work on your case at all. Their solitary goal is to take your money. In some cases, they may use some of your money to pay a third party to negotiate a loan modification for you (which will do nothing in terms of stopping a foreclosure), while they keep the rest of your money as profit.

Throughout the vast majority of this process, the scammers will lead you to believe that they are constantly working on your case – filing paperwork and negotiating with your lender as your foreclosure defense team. In reality, almost nothing is actually being done to further your case along at all.

Some foreclosure defense scam artists may even make bold claims that suggest they are working with or for the government or your mortgage company in order to increase your comfort level. Multiple promises will be made to you about what they can deliver in terms of saving your home. If your home is already in foreclosure, it’s important to know that a loan modification will not stop or even delay the foreclosure process in the slightest.

If you are facing foreclosure and wish to save your home, you need a New Jersey foreclosure defense attorney working for you. Although an attorney’s fees may seem higher up front, the alternative is to pay smaller amounts out over a long stretch of time to a scam artist. In the end, your certified and experienced attorney may even come out costing LESS, and you will have gotten the results you wanted.

Veitengruber Law has saved many homes for New Jersey residents who are struggling, and we will continue to save more homes for those who need help. Paying our fees is beyond worth it, because we do not stop working until your home is saved, and we don’t make any promises we can’t keep.

Image credit: Ingrid Richter

NJ Sheriff’s Sale Adjourned Twice: Am I Out of Options?

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In the State of New Jersey, if your home is in foreclosure, that means that you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage payments and your lender plans to repossess the property.

The foreclosure timeline can be lengthy in New Jersey due to the sheer number of foreclosures bogging the system down. However, your lender’s endgame is to sell your home at what is called a Sheriff’s Sale.

A Sheriff’s Sale is essentially a public sale or auction of property that was seized or repossessed in order to satisfy unpaid debts. If you have not been paying your mortgage payment, or you are in arrears, once your home moves through the foreclosure process, it will be sold so your lender can recover at least some of the money that it was owed.

In New Jersey, foreclosures must proceed through the legal system and must follow a set of procedures so that the homeowner is never caught unaware and blindly evicted. You will have received copies of your lender’s intent to foreclose, as well as a foreclosure complaint and summons.

If the Sheriff’s Sale is approaching and you have not taken the appropriate foreclosure defense actions and you want to keep your home, New Jersey allows homeowners to request adjournment of the sale. The adjournment, or postponement, will push the date of sale out for two weeks. You can request two of these adjournments as long as you provide a good reason for doing so. There is also a small fee for each adjournment.

Once you’ve used up your two adjournments, the court is obligated to follow New Jersey state law and proceed with the sale.

While it’s great that homeowners are given the last minute option of two Sheriff’s Sale adjournments, all totaled they only give you four extra weeks to figure out how you’re going to save your home. If you can’t bring your mortgage current in that amount of time, the sale will proceed after the adjournment period and you’ll still be forced to move.

A much better way to stop a New Jersey Sheriff’s Sale from proceeding is to meet with a NJ bankruptcy attorney as soon as you are notified of the pending foreclosure and sale. Filing for bankruptcy automatically stops your lender from moving any further in the foreclosure process. You will be able to stay in your home, breathe a sigh of relief, and work with your attorney without worrying about your adjournment(s) running out.

Even if you have already exhausted both of your adjournments and the Sheriff’s Sale of your home is scheduled for tomorrow – an emergency bankruptcy petition can still be an option for you. You’ll need to apply for a credit counseling class at least 24 hours before filing an emergency bankruptcy petition.

Veitengruber Law can help you file an emergency bankruptcy petition AND sign you up for the credit counseling course that will make everything stop in its tracks, giving us the time we need to formulate the best plan of action.

Bottom line: if you’re in foreclosure in New Jersey and want to keep your home, our experienced foreclosure defense team can help, even if your home is scheduled for Sheriff’s Sale tomorrow. Call us ASAP so we can help before it really is too late. (732) 852-7295

Facing Foreclosure During a Divorce

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Nearly everyone who has been through a divorce has had to deal with at least some level of financial struggle. For some people, divorce necessitated a complete money mindset makeover. One of the biggest transitions that has to be made when a couple splits relates to the marital home. If you are a homeowner who is currently going through a divorce, you may be wondering if your home will be foreclosed upon by your lender.

Most married couples enter into a mortgage agreement jointly, as they happily begin their lives together. Years later when the marriage is breaking up, it’s much less pleasant to have to disentangle yourself from a joint mortgage loan. Tempers flare, children may be involved, and communication can be complicated and tense.

There are many different answers to the question, “Who will keep the marital home?” However, sometimes neither party wants to or is able to keep up with the payments without the other partner. Of course, other situations may also prevent either party from remaining in the marital home, like new relationships and relocation for work, but the most common reason is lack of finances.

A very important thing to keep in mind as you move through your divorce is that your mortgage lender is not even slightly interested  in the state of your marriage. If you and your spouse signed for the home jointly – you are both equally responsible for the debt.

Although it may be quite difficult, it’s important to keep communication as open as possible when it comes to dividing up your marital assets and debts. Miscommunication on important financial issues can lead to devastating results.

If both parties move out of the marital home and both refuse to continue making monthly payments on the mortgage, the home will quickly go into foreclosure. Foreclosure is not a desirable outcome, especially if there are other plausible options for the property. Don’t let your pride or anger get in the way of making a smart decision that can help you avoid foreclosure!

Discuss with your spouse the idea that one of you remain living in the marital home. If this is a situation that you can both agree to, the spouse living in the home should plan to either assume the loan or refinance it in order to remove the other spouse from liability.

If you plan to go this route, find out if your mortgage contains a due on sale clause.

Remember that one spouse may be entitled to either child support, alimony or both after the divorce is final. This money may be enough to make staying in the marital home a reality for the support receiver, even if they don’t earn enough income on their own to pay the mortgage.

If one party remains in the home but fails to refinance or assume the loan – trouble could be nigh. If at any time, that person decides to stop making mortgage payments, the bank/lender will not care if the parties are happily married, platonic roommates, or divorced and divided.

The only thing that matters to the lender is whose name(s) are on the mortgage loan and promissory note. If both names remain on the documents, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been divorced for a decade – both parties will still be held responsible. Foreclosure of the property will be significantly damaging to both parties’ credit scores.

If you are dealing with foreclosure and divorce, find out what your options are now, before you end up facing a deficiency judgement and a rotten credit score. Ask us all the questions you want in your free consultation so that we can help you decide what steps you want to take next.

Image credit: Don O’Brien

Why is My Home Being Photographed?

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Assuming your last name isn’t Kardashian and you’re not a member of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, having your house photographed every day probably isn’t something you’re accustomed to. If you’ve recently felt like you’re being hounded by the paparazzi, there’s probably a very simply explanation.

Anytime you fall behind on their mortgage payments (even if only one or two payments have been missed), your mortgage lender or bank may start the process of filing for foreclosure. This is possible even if you haven’t caught wind of the news yet. While your lender is required to notify any homeowner on whom they plan to foreclose, you may not have gotten the notice yet if it’s very early in the process.

If you’re aware that you have indeed missed some mortgage loan payments, or if you have already received the foreclosure notice in the mail – you have the answer to why your home is being photographed.

When mortgagees start missing payments, lenders start losing money. As soon as one of their loans goes into default, lenders know that a foreclosure may be their only way to recoup any money out of the situation.

Lenders also know that some people are so fearful of the potential embarrassment of being forced out of their home that they voluntarily move out prematurely. In reality, homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments are allowed to continue living in the home until the very end of the foreclosure process. In New Jersey, foreclosure timelines are still remarkably long because there are so many foreclosures clogging up the court system.

Although you have the right to remain in your home until it has been sold at Sheriff’s Sale (if you choose to go forward with foreclosure), your lender is acutely aware of the fact that you may abandon the home before then. Many people also leave their foreclosed homes prematurely due to divorce or other life circumstances that have changed. If your home is left vacant, your lender lawfully has the right to sell the property at any time.

Because lenders know that they legally have the rights to any vacant home that is in default, they regularly check to see if any of their defaulted mortgage properties have been abandoned. Thus, the photographer that has been giving you the creeps is simply making a photographic record of whether the home is still occupied or not.

Sadly, some mortgage companies will purposely photograph your home when they know you won’t be there. This gives them the ability to paint the picture of an empty home (no cars in the driveway, no lights on, etc). Although it may be clear that the home is still quite lived-in, some unscrupulous lenders will attempt to declare it as unoccupied so that they can attempt to take possession of the property early.

If you’re in a similar situation, your best move is to stay in contact with your lender even though you are in default on your loan. You can do this yourself or with the help of a real estate attorney, but keep record of your communications with your lender either way. A good way to avoid any miscommunication with your lender is to have your attorney draft a letter explaining that you will be living in the home throughout the duration of the foreclosure.

 

Image credit: Philip Male