New Jersey is a judicial foreclosure state, which means that your lender must go to court to start the foreclosure process. Judicial foreclosure is considered more consumer-friendly than nonjudicial foreclosure, where a lender can foreclose without having to show proper legal authority in a court of law.

Generally speaking, this is how a judicial foreclosure process works:

Missed Payments – even if you miss just one mortgage payment, a lender can start the foreclosure process. However, in today’s environment, most lenders wait many months before taking action.

Notice of Intent Sent – the lender sends you a notice of intent to begin foreclosure proceedings, letting you know that this action can be stopped if you make up the missed payments, usually with interest and other costs.

Lender Files Suit – if you do not make the payments outlined in the Notice of Intent, the lender then proceeds to court and files a lawsuit.

Lender Gives Notice of Suit – you receive notice of the lawsuit via a Summons and Complaint. You will also be provided with information about the state’s foreclosure mediation program, and will have 60 days to request participation in that program.

Homeowner Response – you have 35 days in which to respond if you plan to contest or argue the lawsuit brought by your lender. Either way, the lender must prove to the court that the foreclosure is justified. If you don’t respond, the court will likely issue a default judgment that allows the lender to sell your home.

Notice of Default and Final Judgment – the lender can obtain an entry of default if 35 days have elapsed with no response to the complaint. The lender will then send you a notice of intent to sell 14 days prior to filing a request for a final judgment. If you can cure the default at this time, you will be given 45 days to do so before the property is put up for sale.

Sheriff’s Sale – if your home does not sell at auction, then your lender becomes the legal owner. You may request a 14-day delay of the sale by paying a fee.

Right to Redeem — after your home is sold, you have 10 days to get it back if you can arrange refinancing or a sale of the home. If you do not redeem, the proceeds from the Sheriff’s Sale will be paid to your lender to cure the default. If the proceeds are less than what you owe, the lender can sue you for the difference.

If you are a homeowner experiencing difficulty in making your mortgage payments, or have been served with foreclosure papers, contact Johnson Legal PC for a consultation to find out what options exist in addressing the lender’s action and defending your rights and home under the law.