One of the first things I am asked by a chapter 7 or a chapter 13 bankruptcy client is: “How long will I be able to stay in my house during Foreclosure? Once you fall behind in payments the mere hint of the word from your Mortgage Loan Company or loan servicing company stirs the most dreadful thoughts.
First you think of burly men coming to your home when you are away to put your private property on the curb. Scavengers are next in line. Before you know it your valuables have been picked clean. Not only do you not have a house, but everything you have worked for over the years is gone forever.
I know a person who leased other housing arrangements as soon as she realized that she would no longer be able to afford the current mortgage payments. I tried to calm her down and explain that nothing goes that fast in a legal proceeding. I told her she had plenty of time. She would not believe me without a guarantee. It may not be a guarantee, but it is an explanation:
Let me set out a time line for a “normal,” undefended foreclosure case in Cleveland or Elyria from the date you miss your first payment.
- You fall behind in your payments
- In 60 to 90 days you start getting phone calls.
- After 4 to 6 months the case is referred to a foreclosure law firm.
- After 5 to 7 months a civil lawsuit called a foreclosure is filed with the common pleas court. Very rarely, in fact once, I have seen the foreclosure filed in the United States District Court in Cleveland.
- Everything goes on hold until you are served with a copy of the complaint.
- Once you are served you have 28 days to respond to the complaint by filing an answer.
- The case is referred to a foreclosure magistrate.
- 9 to 10 months attorney for the Mortgage Loan Company files either motion for default judgment or motion for summary judgment.
- Court grants motion. Court issues judgment on the mortgage note. Order of Sale issued to the County Sherriff.
- 12 to 13 months Sale Scheduled Notice of Sheriff Sale published in Paper
- 13 to 14 months Sherriff Sale Foreclosure scheduled.
- Within 30 days after sheriff sale confirmation sale filed with the court.
- Motion for Eviction Filed with the Court. I have seen these take as long as 6 to 8 additional months, much earlier if the buyer is a private party who wants possession of the house.
From the time you miss your first mortgage payment to conclusion of the Sheriff sale in Lorain County in Elyria, or Cuyahoga County in Cleveland you can reasonably expect to have to be out of the house in about twelve to 14 months. You can further extend this time but not signing for certified mail, hiring a lawyer and defending the Elyria Foreclosure or Cleveland Foreclosure, or by filing a chapter 7 or a chapter 13 bankruptcy any time before the Sherriff Sale. Loan modification discussions may interrupt the foreclosure, but don’t bet on it.
The key is to remember that you have time. Just don’t wait to the last minute.
A more recent development in the foreclosure process is, “What happens if the house does not sell at the Sherriff Sale?” That will be the subject of a future blog post.
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