Reverse Mortgage Foreclosures: Can They Be Stopped?

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What are reverse mortgages?

Reverse mortgages allow homeowners ages 62 and up to borrow against the equity of their primary residence to receive a loan in the form of either a revenue stream or a lump sum of money from their lender. In order to be eligible for a reverse mortgage, homeowners must first meet a few basic requirements.

The homeowner(s) have to be at least 62 years old and either own their home outright or have a very strong equity built up and owe very little on their mortgage. They must also occupy their home as their primary residence and hold the title to their home. While they typically get a bad rap, reverse mortgages oftentimes provide senior citizens with a valuable and much-needed source of funding to assist with a wide variety of needs that can occur with aging.

Some common reasons seniors seek reverse mortgages are to:

  • Finance a child’s college education
  • Pay for necessary medical expenses and bills
  • Fund home repairs and remodels
  • Supplement social security income to maintain an adequate standard of living throughout retirement.

It is worth noting that while the homeowner gets to remain living in their home and keep the title to the home as collateral, they are still required to pay all necessary taxes, property maintenance and repair costs, homeowner’s insurance payments, and interest and fees on their loan.

What happens if circumstances change?

While reverse mortgages can be a feasible and even financially sound option for certain people, there are some potential pitfalls to take into consideration before ever opting for a reverse mortgage in the first place. It is important to understand the specifics of what you are undertaking as a homeowner. For instance, a reverse mortgage is immediately owed back to the lender upon the occurrence of any of the following circumstances:

  • The borrower(s) decide to transfer the title or sell the home and succeed in doing so.
  • The borrower(s) reside elsewhere for over a year, thereby relinquishing the primary residence status of the home in the eyes of the lender.
  • The borrower(s) fail to meet the terms and conditions of the mortgage; for instance falling delinquent in homeowner’s dues or property taxes, or allowing the condition of the property to substantially deteriorate.
  • The borrower(s) pass away.

If in the near future you are considering moving, living away from your home for more than a year, or if you currently have a terminal illness, you may want to look into alternatives to a reverse mortgage so that you do not leave your loved ones in a bad financial situation upon your departure.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Once the reverse mortgage becomes due for any of the aforementioned reasons, the homeowner(s) (or their heirs) are legally liable to pay back the lender in full, including any applicable taxes and fees.

Can a reverse mortgage foreclosure really be stopped?

If you find yourself or your loved ones on the verge of a reverse mortgage foreclosure, you are not entirely without viable options. Contact a NJ real estate lawyer or foreclosure defense attorney who can help determine if you are eligible for a reputable loan modification on the reverse mortgage. There is also the option of selling the property yourself or allowing a relative or friend to pay off the remaining balance owed on your reverse mortgage.

A real estate attorney with experience in NJ reverse mortgage foreclosures will be best equipped to help answer any questions you may have and help you weigh the pros and cons of all your options. They will walk you through every step of the decision-making process with the end goal of ultimately helping you avoid a reverse mortgage foreclosure.

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Bidding on a NJ Foreclosure Property: The Lowdown

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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!

 

New Jersey Foreclosure: Frequently Asked Questions

In a New Jersey foreclosure sale, your home will be sold in an auction-type setting. The sale will be publicly announced and will be open for anyone to attend. Since New Jersey is a judicial foreclosure state, the local sheriff will typically lead the auction. If the sheriff cannot conduct your sale, another public official will do so.

Everyone who attends the foreclosure sale is able to place bids in order to buy your former home. As in all auctions, “to the highest bidder go the spoils.” The spoils in this case refers to your mortgaged home.

So: you stopped paying your mortgage payment. For a variety of reasons, people sometimes do this. Maybe you ran into temporary (or permanent) financial trouble because you: lost a job, got divorced, fell ill, made some poor money choices – the potential reasons are endless. Regardless of how you ended up in foreclosure, it’s probably not something you hoped would happen to you one day.

No one goes around saying, “I hope I get foreclosed on at least once in my lifetime!” Because foreclosure something you didn’t wish for – you probably don’t know what to expect. As a general rule, we don’t sit around thinking about things that we don’t plan to experience. Therefore, now that you have found yourself smack dab in the middle of a foreclosure, chances are that you have some questions.

We’ve covered a lot of foreclosure sub-topics here on our blog. Today’s foreclosure question we’d like to answer for you is:

“Who gets the money from the foreclosure sale?”

The normal course of a foreclosure auction is that the bidding remains rather low and the final, winning bid is often less than the house is actually worth. In fact, many times foreclosed homes are sold for less than the original mortgagor still owes the bank. There are, of course, exceptions.

Here is a breakdown of what will happen to the proceeds from your foreclosure sale, who receives payment, and in what order:

  • The first person/entity to be paid from the foreclosure sale proceeds is the New Jersey lender who granted you the loan for the mortgage in the first place. The bank or mortgage company needs to recover as much money as possible because you didn’t repay them like you originally agreed. A small portion of the proceeds will also go toward settling the cost of having the foreclosure auction.
  • If there is still money left after the sale is paid for and the lender has fully recovered the amount they are owed, any secondary lenders (2nd or 3rd mortgage granters) will receive the full amount you borrowed (perhaps for a home equity loan) or as much as possible.
  • After the above parties have received payment in full is the only time you, as the mortagor, will be entitled to receive any money from your foreclosure sale. Keep in mind: you are not likely to receive much, if any, money from a foreclosure sale because foreclosed homes don’t typically sell for as much as they would in a traditional real estate transaction.

In fact, you may even owe money when all is said and done. If the winning foreclosure bidder pays less than you still owe on the property, your lender will suffer a loss. This discrepancy is known as a deficiency balance. As the mortgagor, you can legally be held accountable for this amount.

You can learn more about NJ foreclosure procedures, get the answers to common foreclosure FAQs, and find out how a foreclosure will affect your life on our NJ law blog. We can also help you save your home via foreclosure defense, if that is your ultimate goal.

Can the Bank Repossess My NJ Foreclosed Home Before Evicting Me?

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If your home has been through the NJ foreclosure process and the new owner has tried to take possession of the property before you have received formal eviction notice, it is important for you to know your rights.

Naturally, if you’ve made it all the way to the end of the foreclosure process in New Jersey, the fact that you’ll have to move soon should come as no surprise. With that being said, as the former owner of the home, it is within your rights to stay in the home until you have received proper notice of eviction.

After the Sheriff’s Sale of your home has occurred, the NJ County Sheriff must provide the bank/lender with the property deed within ten days. If the bank or lender was not the winning bidder at Sheriff’s Sale, the successful party who purchased the home will be the deed recipient. It is most often the mortgage company who ends up with the home since they are the ones who initiated the foreclosure process in the first place. Their reason for filing for foreclosure is so they can re-sell the home to recover part or all of mortgage loan that you (as the borrower) have failed to pay. Missed mortgage payments are what lead to foreclosure.

Upon receipt of the deed to the property, the mortgage company’s next step is to file a formal eviction motion in New Jersey State court. Without this official eviction (called a Writ of Possession in legal terms), you cannot be forced to leave the home even after it has been sold at foreclosure sale.

Is your mortgage company attempting to force you out of the home without a formal eviction? If you have yet to see an actual eviction notice affixed to your front door, you have almost certainly not been served with notice to vacate the premises. Any efforts on the part of the lender to forcibly kick you out without eviction paperwork is against the law in New Jersey.

We typically advise our foreclosure clients to be prepared with an alternate place to live as of the date of the Sheriff’s Sale. Forcing your mortgage company to evict you can look bad to your future landlords or lenders – potentially marking you as a “difficult” borrower or renter. However, it is within your rights to remain in the home until you have formally been evicted, and staying there can give you several months to save money because you won’t be paying a mortgage or rent payment. Weigh your options carefully before you decide whether to vacate willingly or stay put until the Sheriff removes you.

The bottom line is that, legally, your mortgage company (or new owners after Sheriff’s Sale) cannot take possession of the home until you have been formally served with an eviction notice. If your foreclosed home’s new owners are attempting to prematurely take possession of the property by locking you out, removing your personal items, or moving new tenants in while you aren’t home – you need to contact your New Jersey foreclosure attorney right away in order to preserve your rights.

Image credit: Andy Wright

After Foreclosure: Living in a Bank-Owned Home

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As we make our way toward the end of the 2016 calendar year, we’re creeping up on the 10 year mark of the start of the U.S. housing crisis that began in 2007. Many states in the nation have recovered nicely by this point, with some reports saying that the housing market is the best it’s been in a decade.

In New Jersey, though, foreclosures are still a significant problem. The garden state has yet to find solid footing in the wake of the housing crisis (also called the housing bubble), and even nearly a decade later is still a state with one of the highest foreclosure rates.

Although it appeared as if things were moving in the right direction for New Jersey’s foreclosure situation this year, as we reach the end of 2016, the recovery rate has slowed to a crawl and nearly 13,000 new foreclosures entered the court system in the final quarter of this year alone. Because of the long, mandated legal foreclosure process in NJ, this new influx of foreclosures has once again caused a significant backlog in foreclosure court. We’ve taken a step backward in our recovery from the housing crisis, with Atlantic, Ocean and Essex counties  currently showing the highest numbers of new foreclosure filings.

One of the effects that the decade-long real estate recession has had on New Jersey is neighborhood blight in areas hardest hit by foreclosure. In reference to the housing market, blight is the dilapidation, deterioration or decay of certain towns and cities (or sections of those towns).

The reason for this phenomenon is that so many foreclosed homes are not being sold at auction. Since New Jersey hasn’t fully recovered from the 2007 crisis, buyers and developers are still wary about purchasing questionable properties, especially in areas that are downtrodden or showing potential signs of blight.

When a foreclosed home fails to sell at sheriff’s sale, the lender or bank retains ownership of the property. These homes are called REO: “Real Estate Owned.” Often the term “Bank owned” is used interchangeably.

REO properties are often empty for significant periods of time, which can lead to vandalism, drug activity, disrepair and squatters. All of these factors combine to create blight, especially when several or many homes in a neighborhood become bank owned and uninhabited.

Smart lenders realize the depreciation that occurs when a property becomes vacant – which means if you are at the end of your home’s foreclosure process and your home becomes bank owned (or REO) – you may be able to continue living in the home until your lender can sell it.

While not all lenders are amenable to giving former homeowners a “free ride” living mortgage free in a home that is now an REO property, some lenders acquiesce to the fact that a cared-for property is much easier to sell than one that has been destroyed by defacement and crime.

Your NJ foreclosure attorney can talk to your lender on your behalf if you are too nervous to do it on your own. If your lender is not open to letting you live in the home scot-free, there may be room to negotiate a rental agreement. Naturally, your attorney will request a monthly rent amount that you can afford. Lenders often realize that getting some money is better than getting no money at all.

If and when your lender does sell your home to another buyer, you will be given eviction notice. At that time, you’ve reached the end of the line in your REO home, and will be required by law to vacate the premises, usually within 30-60 days. So, if you are lucky enough to continue living in your home after its foreclosure sale, put away as much money as possible each month, and scout out a new living arrangement that you can afford. When the time comes, you’ll have a nest egg and hopefully your financial future will look much brighter.

Image credit: Orin Zebest

Can a Commercial Lease Survive a Residential Foreclosure?

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Aside from home-based businesses, there are many companies (typically small businesses) that have office(s) located in a residential building. The residential property in question may be a single family home, condominium, apartment, or townhome whose owner is paying a mortgage loan and renting the property out to the business owner.

A question arises if and when the residential property in question enters foreclosure. What is to become of the commercial lease and the company owner who is running a business at the location?

Can a business be evicted due to a residential foreclosure?

Unfortunately, commercial leases differ quite dramatically in comparison with residential leases. The most significant difference is that there are far fewer consumer protection laws in place to protect commercial lessees compared to residential lessees.

A company doing business in a residential building (that is, of course, zoned for permission to operate a business) will have entered into a commercial lease with the building’s owner, who then effectively becomes the company’s landlord. If the landlord falls behind on paying the mortgage and the property is foreclosed upon, what will happen to the business owner and his employees who work in the building? Will they be evicted or do they have the right to stay on after the foreclosure sale with the bank essentially becoming their new landlord?

There are two distinct possibilities that can result in eviction of the business owner:

  1. If the commercial lessee (tenant/business owner) was made aware of (and a party to) the impending foreclosure, and the lease was created before the property owner defaulted on the mortgage, the lender has the right to evict the commercial tenants, but they must obtain a court order to do so.
  2. Any lease that originated after the property owner had already defaulted on the mortgage becomes null and void on the official foreclosure date. No court order is necessary for eviction of the commercial lessees.

Because of the above two scenarios, commercial tenants must advocate for themselves when they are signing a lease. Specifically, commercial renters should scrutinize something called the SNDA (Subordination, Non-disturbance and Attornment) provisions that exist within nearly every commercial lease.

How can SNDA provisions save me from having to uproot my business?

Subordination, non-disturbance and attornment provisions are included in commercial leases specifically to protect commercial renters in the event of a foreclosure on the property. Unfortunately, many commercial tenants have a tendency to “skim” the SNDA sections of their rental agreement due to their excessive length and confusing legal jargon.

Despite the investment of time, commercial tenants should always certify that their lease agreement contains favorable SNDA provisions – specifically the Non-disturbance Provision. Although negotiating a Non-disturbance agreement that both parties agree with can take several months, in the end it will leave the renter protected against eviction in the event of default by the landlord on the mortgage.

If you are a business owner renting a commercial space in a residential building that’s in foreclosure, find out what rights you have by consulting with a real estate attorney in New Jersey. Conversely, business owners just beginning the process of locating rental space should do the same to ensure that your business location will be safe in the event of foreclosure.

If you want to learn more about commercial leases in relation to residential foreclosures, call Veitengruber Law for your free consultation meeting with one of our experienced real estate and foreclosure attorneys. We now have offices in Wall, Bordentown and Marlton, NJ. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you.

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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

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.

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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.

 

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