(Part 1 in a series)
Receiving a Notice of Foreclosure is gut-wrenching, especially if you have set down roots. However, you don’t need to panic. New Jersey law provides you with many legal protections. And New Jersey has one of the longest timelines for a lender to actually take away your home.
Even in the worst case scenario, the foreclosure process takes many months. In many cases, it takes two or three years before homeowners are physically kicked out and lose claim to the property. With legal help, you may be able to contest foreclosure and buy time to catch up on the mortgage.
New Jersey has one of the longest foreclosure timelines
The majority of Americans, even in higher income brackets, live paycheck to paycheck. It only takes one crisis to start falling behind on house payments. Job loss. Health problems. A wayward child. Divorce.
If you skip one mortgage payment or routinely pay late, the lender will definitely take note. If you miss two payments in a row or several in one year, they start cranking up the foreclosure machine.
The good news is that state law is on your side. The New Jersey Fair Foreclosure Act gives homeowners important protections. Lenders cannot simply evict you for missing a few house payments or sell your property out from under you. They need court approval through a process called judicial foreclosure. It is a lengthy process with strict rules for mortgage lenders and multiple opportunities for you to save your home (or arrange the most favorable alternative).
According to Nolo.com, New Jersey has the third-longest foreclosure timeline. The average is 1,161 days (38 months) from that first foreclosure notice. On one hand, that is a generous amount of time for you to get back on track with the mortgage. On the other hand, your mortgage lender or third-party saviors have little sense of urgency because of the drawn-out judicial process. Solutions like loan workouts and loan modifications also take several months, so it still becomes a race against time.
There’s time … but no time to lose
It is best to consult a lawyer early in the process to understand your rights and maximize your options. People who lose their homes to foreclosure either ignore the issue for too long or try to climb out of the hole on their own. It’s not always possible to avoid foreclosure, but there is help. The Law Office of Rajeh A. Saadeh has enabled many New Jersey homeowners to successfully fight foreclosures, negotiate solutions with lenders, or walk away from an “underwater” mortgage owing as little as possible. Don’t wait until the sheriff’s sale.
Next in the series: New Jersey’s Homeowner-Friendly Foreclosure Process