Q Am I Getting Kicked Out of My House Tomorrow?
No. The foreclosure process has many steps and many opportunities to fight or negotiate with the bank. We have had clients who had foreclosures that started in 2005 with judgments from 2007 that worked out modifications on the eve of Sheriff’s Sale in 2012. It is not the norm that cases take that long, but they tend to take a very long time. In both NJ and NY, cases seem to average between 2 to 3 years, but the judiciary is constantly making efforts to speed up the process.
A 2011 study examined how long it took for foreclosures to go through in various states. See Third Quarter and September 2011 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report (Oct. 11, 2011), available at, http://www.realtytrac.com/content/press-releases/third-quarter-and-september-2011-us-foreclosure-market-report-6880. New Jersey ranked second-worst in the country and New York ranked worst in the country. In New Jersey, the average foreclosure takes 974 days to resolve. In New York, the average foreclosure takes 986 days to resolve. If you are a homeowner in foreclosure, this is great news, but not for the reason you think. You may be thinking, “Phew, I can sit back and do nothing and I’ve got three years in my home.” Nothing could be more foolish. If you want to keep your home, your odds of striking a deal go down with every passing month. Firstly, the banks add the arrearage in to the end of your loan and increases the “down-payment” amount you would have to pay in a modification. So, you aren’t strictly “saving money” by not paying your mortgage, you are just racking up a bigger tab. Secondly, the banks look at the time since you defaulted as a negative thing. If you come forward to work something out sooner, they will take you more seriously than someone who has not paid in three (3) years. They view this as an indicator of responsibility and initiative. These are soft factors that don’t play in the numbers, but have a lot of impact on how quickly bank reps move your application through the process and how vocal or silent they may be in advocating for your modification internally. You want to turn the bank loss mitigation people and the attorney’s on the other side of the case into “double agents” who are part of your team and who are fighting for you to get modified, and believe that you and your family are deserving of this relief. Sitting on your laurels and taking advantage of the length of the foreclosure process does not increase your credibility and empathy from the bank, its attorneys or the Judge.
With these time frames in mind, there are cases that for no apparent reason seem to go on forever as well as those that move with lightning speed. Each case is different. But, with the right legal guidance, you should be able to get all the time you need to take your best shot at saving your home. You will definitely get the time you need to make important decisions, weigh your options, and make plans. You are not going to get kicked out on the curb without warning if an attorney is representing you in your case.