by Ira J. Metrick, Esq.
In the past five years, I have been in contact with thousands of New Jersey Homeowners facing foreclosure. It is a scary prospect and it is easy to get overwhelmed and think that there are no options.
However, there are state and federal laws in place to protect New Jersey homeowners throughout the foreclosure process. You need to know where you are in the process, so you can best evaluate your options.
Here are some important tips that can help you in the foreclosure process:
1. Do Not Ignore Your Mail
You need to know where you are in the foreclosure process, to understand your options. You need to open your mail as soon as you receive it. Everyone who signed the mortgage will get notices by regular and certified mail, so there will be multiple copies of many letters. Don’t get overwhelmed. Some notices contain critical information that often require action from you with short deadlines. Ignoring your mail will only make foreclosure more difficult for you.
Some of the notices you may receive at the start of foreclosure include:
● Notice of Intent to Foreclose
● Foreclosure Complaint
● Request for Entry of Default
● FFA (Fair Foreclosure Act) Notice of Intention to Submit Proof for Final Judgment
● Motion to Reform Mortgage
● Motion to Correct Defendant
● Motion to Amend Complaint
● Motion to Substitute Plaintiff
● Motion for Summary Judgment
● Motion to Strike Pleadings
● Notice of Dismissal for Lack of Prosecution
● Affidavit of Exceptional Circumstances
● Motion to Reinstate Complaint
● Motion to Allow Final Judgment Without Listing Loan Modification in Complaint
● Motion to Expunge Assignment
● Motion for Final Judgment
● Entry of Final Judgment
● Motion for Additional Sums
● Motion to Vacate Final Judgment
● Notice of Sheriff Sale
● Motion to Vacate Sale
● Writ of Execution
● Writ of Possession
● Order to Show Cause for Ejectment
2. Keep Track of Deadlines
The critical events in a Foreclosure are the: Complaint; Default; Final judgment; Sheriff Sale and Eviction/Ejectment. As each event occurs, your rights are reduced. You will also get notice that each of the events are coming. It is important to understand the notices you receive in the mail, so you understand your deadlines. If you don’t understand the notices, or you need to know what is coming next and how long you have in the home, speak with an experienced foreclosure defense attorney.
3. Be Wary of Foreclosure Scams
Unfortunately, some companies use public records to contact homeowners facing foreclosure and try to take advantage of people in a difficult situation. They may make promises to stop the foreclosure or get you a loan modification. In New Jersey, only NJ licensed attorneys and NJ licensed Debt Adjusters can take money to help a homeowner in a foreclosure or take money to help get a loan modification. Be wary of companies outside New Jersey or companies that just want you to make monthly payments to them. You should not have to pay a monthly fee if no services are being provided. You should get a written agreement of what services you will receive and exactly what they will cost.
4. Gather All of Your Mortgage Documents
The documents you signed at the mortgage closing are very important for your foreclosure defense, since they clearly state the terms of the loan and the amount that you owe. If you can’t find these documents, you can receive a copy by sending a Request for Information. It is also a good idea to keep copies of any related documents, such as:
● Mortgage statements
● Proof of payment
● Property tax payments
● Truth in Lending statements
● Homeowner’s insurance documents
5. Determine the Value of Your Home
Find out the current market value of your home. Many realtors will help you get this information at no charge. Once you know how much your home is worth, you can make informed decisions about options such as selling your home.
6. Take Stock of Your Finances
Assess your finances and budget and decide how much you can afford to pay for housing. This will help you when looking at foreclosure alternatives such as a loan modification, which can change the terms of your mortgage to make monthly payments more manageable.
7. Be Mindful of What Your Lender is Doing — and Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
If your lender is doing something that doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to ask for legal advice. If your lender is committing a violation, that can be used as a defense against your foreclosure. Certain violations can also lead to Federal Claims against the lender and their attorneys. For example, contact an attorney if:
● Your lender is claiming you are in default when you are up to date on your payments.
● Your lender is refusing to accept your mortgage payments.
● Your lender is pursuing foreclosure while reviewing you for a loan modification.
● Your lender refuses to honor your loan modification
Don’t face foreclosure alone. If you have any questions about the New Jersey foreclosure or sheriff sale process, feel free to contact me for a free consultation and case evaluation.
For more information about saving your home from foreclosure, please visit www.metrickesq.com or call my office at 732-462-7000.