Sheriff’s Sale of the House: How much time do I have?

I am in default for $97,000 since Feb. 2011. I just received a notice of intention to apply for final judgement. Wondering how much longer I can stay in my home at this point?

One Response to “Sheriff’s Sale of the House: How much time do I have?”

  1. Jeff Jenkins

    The mortgage company’s attorneys need to obtain a final judgment from the court allowing them to foreclose, which will take several weeks. Then they have to contact the sheriff in your county to have a sheriff’s sale scheduled. This could take a couple of months. If your mortgage company is the successful bidder at the sheriff’s sale the sheriff has to wait at least ten days (usually it takes 3 or 4 weeks) to transfer the deed to your mortgage company. The mortgage company would then proceed with a summary dispossess action (basically kind of a landlord/tenant complaint to have you evicted). This could take 3 or 4 weeks for them to file if they acted quickly and might not be heard in court for another 3 weeks. After that, the mortgage company needs to wait at least 3 days to get a Warrant of Removal from the State court judge. They give this to the Sergeant at Arms who will come out to your house and put a notice on your door that you have 10 days to leave the premises or you will be forcibly evicted. All in all, the process will take somewhere between 4 and 6 months.

    Of course, filing a bankruptcy is also a possibility especially considering the amount of arrears that exist on your mortgage loan. It may be wise to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in this regard. When you file for bankruptcy, you get the protection of the automatic stay. That’s a legal tool that protects you from all collection actions, including foreclosure. Basically, the foreclosure process has to come to a dead halt while you’re in bankruptcy. You can file all the way up until the sheriff’s sale. As long as the house hasn’t sold, the automatic stay will kick in and stop the process.
    In order to stay in your home, you’ll probably want to file under Chapter 13. Normally, with mortgage arrears, the standard procedure would be to pay them back through the Chapter 13 Trustee over a 5 year period of time and resume your normal monthly mortgage payments. However, because of the long periods of time that it has taken mortgage companies to conduct foreclosures in New Jersey, sometimes we see situations where the arrears are substantial (so substantial that there is no way they can be paid back over 5 years). In cases like this, we can always have a plan that asks to have the arrears dealt with by getting a loan modification from the mortgage company. As long as monthly payments are made (after the bankruptcy is filed), the court and the mortgage company will give us some time to see if we can get a loan modification. I can tell you that the majority of my clients are successful in this regard and it might be something else you may want to consider if you want to stay in your house.

    Jeff Jenkins


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