Foreclosure Attorney in Howell, New Jersey
Save Your Home with Diligent Help
Whether it is your primary home or an investment property, foreclosure of property can be a truly frightening and stressful experience. In New Jersey, foreclosure affects individuals of varying income levels and spans all different socio-economic groups. Foreclosure is happening in every county throughout the state and has devastated many neighborhoods.
What can you do if your property is the subject of foreclosure?
It depends, and you may need to ask yourself some tough questions.
There are many approaches to dealing with foreclosure, but your strategy will depend on your specific financial and personal circumstances. Many times, you must begin with a deceptively simple question: “Is the property worth saving?” To answer that question, you should figure out whether your home has any equity. Is the home worth more than the balance due on the mortgages or any other liens on the property? What is the condition of the home, and how far behind have you gotten with the mortgage payments?
You must also review your personal and financial circumstances to determine if there is even a possibility of saving the home. Why did you fall behind on your mortgage payments? Did you suffer a sudden loss of income, or did an unexpected injury create exorbitant medical bills? Whether the nature of the setback is temporary or permanent will be critical in deciding how to approach foreclosure.
You will also need to know if you will have the funds necessary to continue making mortgage payments in the future. Will you be able to afford the real estate taxes and insurance on the property?
The Howell foreclosure defense lawyer at Fedoroff Firm, LLC can assess your unique circumstances and advise on whether it makes pragmatic and financial sense to attempt to save your home through one of several relief tools available. She has over 20 years of legal experience and can guide you through your options.
How Foreclosure Works in New Jersey
Sometimes you can see a foreclosure coming. While one missed or late mortgage payment is not necessarily a big deal, if you have permanently lost a means of income or are facing a wave of new expenses, you may realize that there is no reasonable means of keeping up with your original agreement. In these situations, you may be wondering how long you will have before the foreclosure process begins.
Federal law mandates that a foreclosure cannot be initiated until at least 120 days have passed since the original missed payment. This gives you plenty of time to take stock and strategize on the next steps. Your bank or lending institution is also required to send you a Notice of Intention to Foreclose, a formal document that must be provided at least 30 days before a foreclosure can begin.
The Notice of Intention to Foreclose will lay out why the lending institution is planning to foreclose and what steps you can take to prevent this. For many cases, the cited reason will be missed mortgage payments. Depending on your circumstances, you can choose to deal with your mortgage lender at this point directly. You can try applying for a loan modification, requesting a temporary forbearance of the loan, or seeking approval for a short sale of your property.
The good news is that lending institutions do not actually want to foreclose if they can help it. Because New Jersey is a judicial foreclosure state, they are required to undergo certain court actions, which take time, money, and effort. Resulting foreclosures are also rarely profitable, leaving banks with properties they never intended to acquire. For this reason, many banks and lending institutions are amenable to negotiation and will work to avoid foreclosure where possible. The New Jersey Superior Court system offers foreclosure mediation, one such way of helping homeowners resolve conflicts with their mortgage companies.
What to Do When Negotiations Fail and a Foreclosure Begins
Should negotiations prove fruitless and foreclosure appears imminent, you will need to act quickly and decisively if you intend to save your home. Once at least 30 days have passed since the receipt of the Notice of Intention to Foreclose, your lending institution has the ability to file an official foreclosure complaint. You will then be served with a summons associated with the complaint.
If you have not already done so, now is the time to speak to an experienced lawyer, even if you not going to try and save the property. Attorney Fedoroff is a Howell foreclosure defense attorney can guide you through the steps of combating foreclosure or work to minimize your exposure if you intend to cede control of the real estate. This can include considering bankruptcy, which has many benefits.
You will have 35 days to respond to a foreclosure complaint. You can either choose to contest the allegations contained in the complaint or admit to them. In a straightforward case where the allegation is failure to pay your mortgage without any extenuating circumstances, you may have a difficult time contesting the complaint.
There are some situations where contesting makes sense: Your lending institution might not be able to prove they own the loan, they may have mishandled your mortgage, or they may not have followed the appropriate state foreclosure procedures. Attorney Fedoroff can make recommendations on how to respond to a foreclosure complaint and whether contesting makes sense for your case.
If no answer is filed, if you do not contest the charges, or if a contesting effort fails, your lending institution will seek the entry of final judgment, or the ability to foreclose and initiate the sale of the property. You will get one final chance to cure the mortgage in a 14-day window before the final judgment is sought.
The auction of the property, called a sheriff sale, is in many cases the last chance for you to pursue foreclosure relief. If a sale date has been set, immediately contact a lawyer to discuss your options. You do have the right to “redeem” your home in New Jersey, meaning you have a 10-day window to sell or refinance the property to keep it despite a sale.
If you do not intend to fight to keep your home, you may be inclined to just let a foreclosure play out. However, you should still speak to an attorney. Should a sale of the foreclosed property occur at a total valued less than what you still owe on the mortgage, you can be sued for a deficiency judgment. In other words, you may still be on the hook for the difference between the sale price and your overall debt. A qualified legal representative can evaluate the risk of a deficiency judgment and help you take steps to minimize your liability.
How Bankruptcy Can Save Your Home
Should direct negotiations with your mortgage lender fail to produce an agreeable compromise, you may need to consider indirect options. You may be eligible to file a bankruptcy petition and propose a plan to address your mortgage loan as part of your case.
Bankruptcy can be leveraged to halt an imminent or ongoing foreclosure. When you file your petition with the court, you are promptly granted an “automatic stay,” a court order that freezes any and all collection actions, including foreclosure. It is possible to initiate a bankruptcy to stop foreclosure just before a sale takes place.
Absent a court order, creditors will not be able to initiate or continue the foreclosure process until your bankruptcy has concluded. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy means you could have up to 5 years to prepare and reorganize your finances.
If you are considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may have heard about liquidation and are worried about losing your home during this part of the process. Only nonexempt assets are subject to liquidation and, luckily exemptions exist to safeguard your home.
At the conclusion of any bankruptcy filing, you are typically able to discharge unsecured debts. This means you will no longer have to repay any remaining credit card bills, medical bills, unpaid utility bills, or personal loans. Bankruptcy does not enable you to discharge secured debts, including mortgage payments. However, the ability to discharge other types of debt can give you the ability to redirect funds toward your mortgage. Furthermore, in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, some of your consolidated payment plans will go toward your mortgage payments, reducing your overall balance.
The Howell foreclosure defense lawyer at Fedoroff Firm LLC can help you understand how bankruptcy can defend against foreclosure and get you the debt relief that you need. She can review your unique circumstances, including your goals for the foreclosed property, and recommend options that are most likely to prove effective. Attorney Fedoroff is intimately familiar with how foreclosure cases operate in New Jersey and are compassionate to the anxiety you are likely experiencing. No matter where your property is in the foreclosure process, the team can act quickly and decisively to identify solutions and save your home.