Don’t Fear Foreclosure, Fight Foreclosure
June 29, 2020
Knowledge can be a very powerful tool. But what good is knowledge by itself unless you take powerful action and use it for your advantage? Are you afraid that you're going to lose your home? I'm going to help you turn your fear of foreclosure into faith that you can fight foreclosure.
Let's start with some of the basics. Think back for a moment to the day that you actually bought your home. The day they gave you the keys. The day you got a deed that demonstrated that you were now a homeowner.
Before they gave you the keys and the deed, you were probably sitting at a big conference room table at some title company or some lawyer's office with a pile of papers in front of you. Maybe you were represented by a lawyer, or maybe you weren't.
Whatever the situation was, you didn't get the keys and the deed until you signed your name about thirty times to a pile of legal papers, right? Did you know what you were signing? Did you read all of that stuff? Did someone explain to you what all those legal papers meant? I think that I probably know the answer to those questions.
I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in May, 1973. I passed the New Jersey Bar Exam the first time I took it, and in order to be legally permitted to practice law, I had to take a few short seminars on basic New Jersey legal principles. One of those seminars focused on how to represent people that were buying homes. I don't remember very much about that seminar except one thing that the instructor told us at the very end. It went something like this:
“Your client is going to be with you at the closing table, and if he's financing that home, he's going to have a pile of papers that he's going to have to sign in order to get the money from the bank. He's not going to have time to read all of those papers, and even if he did, he would have no idea what those papers say or mean. So, here's the best thing you can tell your client:
‘If you want to get the money, you've got to sign all of these papers. It's very complicated, but it's also very simple. The bottom line is this. If you make all of your mortgage payments on time, there's nothing in all of these papers that can hurt you. If you don't make all of your payments on time, there's nothing in these papers that can help you.'”
Please note that the instructions we were supposed to give to our client did not include the following: “If you miss one or two mortgage payments, you are going to lose your home.” If I were to say something like that to my client, it simply would not be true.
Since having taken that short seminar, I have learned that yes, if my client misses a couple of mortgage payments, maybe there is nothing in those papers that can help him, but there certainly are a lot of provisions in federal laws and the laws of the State of New Jersey that can help my client fight a foreclosure. And my client will have had to miss a lot more payments than just one or two mortgage payment before he actually has to face the ultimate reality of losing his home.
So how many mortgage payments can you miss before that mortgage company actually takes your home away from you and makes you leave? Keep reading. You might be surprised at the answer.
What Does Foreclosure Really Mean?
Having practiced law for 47 years, I have learned that the word “foreclosure” means many different things to many different people. So before writing this, I figured that maybe the best thing I could do would be to look up the word in the legal dictionary. The first definition I found said something like the following:
“the system by which a party who has loaned money secured by a mortgage on real property requires sale of the real property to recover the money due, unpaid interest, plus the costs of foreclosure, when the debtor fails to make payment.
“After the payments on the promissory note (which is evidence of the loan) have become delinquent for several months (time varies from state to state), the lender can have a notice of default served on the debtor (borrower) stating the amount due and the amount necessary to "cure" the default. If the delinquency and costs of foreclosure are not paid within a specified period, then the lender will set a foreclosure date, after which the property may be sold at public sale.
“Up to the time of foreclosure (or even afterwards in some states) the defaulting borrower can pay all delinquencies and costs (which are then greater due to foreclosure costs) and "redeem" the property. Upon sale of the property the amount due is paid to the creditor (lender or owner of the judgment) and the remainder of the money received from the sale, if any, is paid to the borrower.
“There is also judicial foreclosure in which the lender can bring suit for foreclosure against the defaulting borrower for the delinquency and force a sale. This is used in several states with the mortgage system or in deed of trust states when it appears that the amount due is greater than the equity value of the real property, and the lender wishes to get a deficiency judgment for the amount still due after sale. This is not necessary in those states which give deficiency judgments without filing a lawsuit when the foreclosure is upon the mortgage or deed of trust.”
Simple and easy to understand, right? Obviously not, and that's why I have taken on the task of doing my best to make complicated stuff easy, at least to the extent that it is actually possible to do so.
So, how would I define “foreclosure”? Let me first say that when I talk about foreclosure, I am talking about my understanding of New Jersey foreclosure law. Therefore, if you're facing foreclosure in any of the 49 other states, you'd better check the foreclosure laws in that state, because they could be very, very different than the laws in New Jersey.
And I know that from first hand knowledge. About 12 years ago I got involved in buying a condo in Georgia. I'd never been to Georgia, and I never even saw the place. It was supposed to be an investment, and it was supposed to be a great deal at a great price. And I would have to pay very little money out of pocket. I just had to put down about 10% of the purchase price, and the mortgage company was happy to loan me the rest of the money.
The plan was that I would find a tenant that would faithfully pay me rent every month, and I would pay the mortgage from the rent that I collected, so I wouldn't have to pay any money out of my own pocket. After a few years, the property value would be expected to increase by 20% or maybe even 30%, I'd sell, and I'd make some easy money.
There's an old Jewish saying, and maybe you've heard it. It goes something like this: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Well, God must have had some fun with me. I had about 3 tenants there at various times. I never met any of them, but they all had some things in common.
They were very good at paying rent for the first 3 months, and then they were very good at not paying any rent at all after that. They were also very good at using their street smarts to avoid eviction for as long as legally possible.
Meanwhile, I had to pay a pretty hefty mortgage payment every month, and the property value was not going up. In fact, the value of the property was going down, and it was going down rather quickly. When I finally checked, I was somewhat shocked to learn that the property was worth maybe only 30% of what I had bought it for.
So what did I do? I knew that I had clients who had not paid their mortgage payments for two years or more, and they were still living in their homes. If they could do that, well, I figured, I'd lost so much money already, why don't I just stop paying the mortgage, and I'll use my knowledge to delay the foreclosure while I get a new properly vetted tenant who would pay rent on time. But first I had to evict the existing tenant, and that turned out to be a difficult process.
I decided to stop paying the mortgage. Four or five months went by, and, quite surprisingly I heard nothing at all from the mortgage company. Then one day I called the condo complex to find out if my tenant had finally been evicted. They told me that I was no longer the owner of the condo. I figured that had to be some kind of crazy mistake. Well, I figured wrong.
Little did I know that the foreclosure laws in Georgia are not nearly as favorable to homeowners as the foreclosure laws are in New Jersey. I won't give you all of the details, but the reason I never heard anything from the mortgage company was because they sent all of their notices to the Georgia condo address, and based on Georgia law that was supposedly legal.
So here I was, never having received any notice of foreclosure, and I no longer owned the condo. As if that wasn't bad enough, I had paid about $125,000 for the condo, and its value at the time of the foreclosure was only about $35,000. Now I had to be concerned that the mortgage company was going to sue me for about $90,000. That's what they call a lawsuit to obtain a deficiency judgment.
I tell you this story because what happened to me in Georgia can't happen to you in New Jersey. You see, New Jersey is what they call a judicial foreclosure state. If you don't pay your mortgage on time in New Jersey, and the mortgage company wants to legally deprive you of your ownership rights to your home, that mortgage company is going to have to follow a rather long, detailed, and time consuming process before they will be able to successfully do that. And the good news is that you can fight them every step of the way.
Foreclosure is more than just one single event. Foreclosure is a process, and the truth is that in New Jersey the process can take well over a year, if you exercise your legal rights as the process progresses. Of course, in order to exercise your legal rights during the process, you have to understand your legal rights, and you have to understand how the process works. That's what my goal is – to teach you what your rights are, and to understand how the foreclosure process works.
It will also help if you understand a little bit about how bankruptcy works, because you might decide to file for bankruptcy at some point during the foreclosure process, for a variety of legal reasons.
Many people have many misconceptions about how bankruptcy works, and whether bankruptcy is a good thing or a bad thing. As an attorney who has represented well over 20,000 bankruptcy clients over the years, I certainly have my opinions as to whether bankruptcy is going to be beneficial or detrimental to each individual client whom I counsel. If I feel that bankruptcy is going to be a positive life changing event for my client, I will usually say something like this to him/her:
“Bankruptcy is a very powerful tool for people who are facing serious financial and emotional stress and distress, and bankruptcy can be a really beautiful blessing for you and your family. I believe that smart people use the power of bankruptcy to shift the balance of power in their favor. Instead of feeling like a victim with no control over anything, you can take control, and the creditors will have to back off and leave you alone. You would be smart to exercise the legal rights that the federal government has given to you, and when you do exercise those legal rights, you can get complete protection from those bill collectors.
“You have power because You can stop money lawsuits against you. you can stop mortgage foreclosure lawsuits against you, and you can either stop or delay the ability of the mortgage company to take your property. You can also stop tax lien holders who have paid your real estate taxes and are now trying to take your home from you.
“And there's a lot more. You can stop wage garnishments, you can have your money released from a frozen bank account, you can stop vehicle repossessions, and you can usually get back any vehicles that have been recently repossessed, as long as you act quickly.
“You can also wipe out your credit card debts, personal loans, medical bills, surcharges on your drivers' license, legal bills, and a whole lot more. And if that isn't enough, well, after a bankruptcy case has been successfully completed, many people can often get their credit back and get mortgages, car loans, and credit cards again.”
Later in this guide, we will demonstrate how bankruptcy, when properly used, can be a powerful tool that a person can use to delay and stop the foreclosure process. When used properly, bankruptcy can be a beautiful blessing to a person who has the ultimate goal of saving their home, catching up on their mortgage arrears, and starting to make their regular mortgage payments on time every month thereafter.
The Foreclosure Process – Let's Make It Simple
Let's make sure that you understand that when I'm discussing how foreclosure works, I'm talking about foreclosure in the State of New Jersey. Different states have different laws and different rules, so please don't rely upon the information contained in this guide if you are facing foreclosure in another state.
The foreclosure process can be very difficult and complicated, but I'm going to do my best to make it as simple and as straightforward as I possibly can. In fact, I'm going to compare foreclosure to a sport that almost everyone is familiar with.
As long as you are making your mortgage payments on time, you sure don't have to worry about foreclosure. Most people's mortgage payments seem to be due on the first of the month, and most people seem to have a grace period up until the 15th of the month. This means that if the mortgage company gets its money by the 15th, there are no late charges, and the mortgage company will report your payment as a timely payment. I have several mortgages, and if the mortgage companies haven't received their money by about the 10th or so, I will usually get at least one reminder call from them.
So don't be surprised if you get a friendly reminder call from your bank or mortgage company if you haven't paid your monthly payment by about the 10th of the month. And if that actually does happen, well, do not panic. There's nothing to worry about yet. You're just in the first inning of what's going to be a very long baseball game. Keep in mind that this call, if you get it, is just going to be a very friendly reminder check up call. They want to make sure you haven't forgotten to pay and that nothing bad has happened to you.
When you speak to representatives of the mortgage company, please always tell the truth. Don't make stuff up. You don't have to volunteer information, and you don't have to answer questions that haven't been asked, but if you are asked a question, most certainly don't lie about anything when you answer that question.
Once you are more than 15 days late, then at that point the mortgage company is going to assess the monthly late charge against you. The late charge can be about 5% of your regular monthly payment, so to continue to keep things simple, if your mortgage payment is $1000, your late charge in this example is $50.
People of course want to know how a late payment will affect their credit. Here's the answer. Let's assume that your payment is due on June 1. If you make your payment late, but its paid on or before June 30, the last day of the month, that late payment won't affect your credit score. But, if you don't make that payment at all during the month of June, you will be considered officially delinquent, and the mortgage company will report the late payment to the 3 major credit bureaus, so your credit score will go down.
Here's a tip on the late charge. If the mortgage company has assessed the late charge against you, you still have the right to ask for a waiver of that late charge once you've made the monthly payment. It's often not a problem getting it waived if your track record in the past has been good, and if you have a reasonable explanation as to why you are paying late.
The Breach Letter.
OK, you didn't pay your mortgage for June. Now what if you also can't pay for July. Well, sooner or later you will get a breach letter from the mortgage company. This letter will tell you that you have now missed 2 payments of $1000 each, and with the late charges of $50 each, you now are $2100 behind. Typically, they will give you at least 30 days to catch up. If you can do it, well that's great. Pay them, and you are now up to date. If you can't pay them, don't worry too much, it's not the end of the world. It's just the end of the 2nd inning.
Letter Advising of Options Available, and Notice of Intention to Foreclose
Sometime in August, you'll probably get what is known as a Letter Advising of Options Available from the mortgage company. This letter is a standard form letter that tells you that even though you have missed a couple of mortgage payments, don't worry, the mortgage company really wants to help you. The letter makes you aware of various programs that are available to help you, and it's usually not a bad idea to take the mortgage company up on its offer to help.
One of the options that you will be given is known as loss mitigation. Applying for this option gives you the opportunity to get some additional time to catch up on your arrears. A second option permits you to apply for a home loan modification. We'll tell you more about those options later.
Under federal law, in most cases, a servicer can't start a foreclosure until a homeowner is more than 120 days overdue on payments. If you are behind on your mortgage payments for less than 120 days, you have an opportunity to catch up with any arrears at any time before the 120 day period expires. But if you haven't caught up with your payments by the time the 120 day period has expired, you will be in jeopardy of the mortgage company filing a foreclosure complaint against you.
If you miss the August payment, it is very likely you are going to receive a Notice of Intention to Foreclose. This is an official looking letter from the mortgage company which advises you that if you don't catch up on those arrears pretty soon, they are going to get a lawyer to officially start a foreclosure lawsuit against you.
The mortgage company is obviously getting ready to bring in the big guns. They've probably hired some hot shot legal attorney to represent them, and if you really are far behind on your mortgage payments, well, let's face the facts, in all probability, sooner or later you are going to have to figure out how to make some sort of deal with the mortgage company or else you will eventually lose your home. But it's still not time to panic. It's just the end of the 3rd inning. You may be behind in this game, but it's very far from over.
The Mortgage Company Files a Foreclosure Complaint
Let's jump ahead a little bit. It's now October 15, and you haven't made any mortgage payments since May. This is now the 5th month that you haven't made a mortgage payment. At this point, there is now a very good chance that the mortgage company has hired a mortgage foreclosure attorney. That attorney will soon prepare and file an official mortgage foreclosure complaint against you with the Superior Court of New Jersey. The court clerk will assign a docket number starting with the letter “F” to the case.
You won't necessarily know when the case is filed, but you will soon find out about it, because someone will probably be coming to your door one day soon and handing you the official foreclosure complaint and lots of other papers. Don't ignore those papers.
If you want to fight the foreclosure, well things are now starting to get a little more serious, and now is a good time for a serious strategy session. You need to get ready to do battle, because usually the longer you can fight, the better are your odds of surviving. You've made it through the 4th inning, and you've stood strong so far. Now it's time to make a big decision.
Do You Respond to The Foreclosure Complaint?
Have you ever been sued before? The good news is that you have a complete right to contest the foreclosure, but time is of the essence. The day after you have been served with the complaint is Day 1. You might as well start counting at that point, because you have 35 days to file an answer to the complaint. It's going to cost you a filing fee of $175, but it will be more than worth it.
I don't want to get too legalistic, but here is a legal term for you: “burden of proof.” Here's what it means. The person or company that files the law suit has to prove to the judge that what they are claiming against the person they are suing is actually true and correct.
Here's an example. Let's assume that you claim that when you bought the house, you never signed the mortgage papers, and if those papers now bear a signature that claims to be your signature, you can demand that the mortgage company prove that the signature that now appears on the mortgage papers is actually your signature and is not a forgery.
So the mortgage company might have to bring a handwriting expert to court, and if they can't meet the burden of proof that you are actually the one who signed the mortgage documents, then the judge should dismiss the foreclosure because the mortgage company failed to meet its burden of proof.
I would normally suggest that unless the homeowner is willing to totally give up his rights to his home, he should spend the $175 and file a contested answer to the complaint. In fact, the New Jersey court system is very willing to help you and teach you how to file a contested answer. Just go to njcourts.gov, and you will find plenty of instructions and forms as to how to prepare and file a contested answer to a foreclosure complaint. For another helpful research tool, check out nolo.com
I would also recommend that in addition to filing the answer, you should submit a request for production of all relevant documents. This means that the mortgage company will have to provide you with copies of all original legal documents that are relevant to their foreclosure lawsuit.
Once you have filed a timely foreclosure answer, you have probably just bought yourself another six months. You've probably made a very wise decision. If you hadn't filed that answer, the mortgage company would have been able to accelerate the process, and they would have been able to skip some of the steps in the lengthy foreclosure process. Now they won't be able to skip those steps, and they might not even be able to submit all relevant papers that are needed for them to meet their burden of proof.
So, congratulations to you. Instead of just tossing in the towel, you have had the courage to stand up for your rights, and demand that the mortgage company prove their case against you. You have made it through the 5th inning, and you are now going to have some additional options that just might help you stop this foreclosure.
Mediation and Loan Modification.
Here's some good news. The New Jersey court system encourages mortgage companies and homeowners to get together and try to settle their differences. When you get served with the foreclosure complaint, you usually also get served with various papers that explain a court monitored mediation procedure whereby the court appoints a person to act as a mediator in an effort to resolve the foreclosure. This means that there is often a great opportunity for the mortgage company and the homeowner to achieve a settlement and settle the court case.
I suggest that you strongly consider engaging in mediation, and seriously do your best to see if you can get this case settled. If you have a reasonable explanation about a hardship that you or your family encountered that ultimately caused you to fall behind on your mortgage, and if you also now have enough income to afford to make payments on time in the future, there is certainly a lot of room for unbiased discussion and a distinct possibility of getting your case settled. The mediators sometimes come up with rather creative solutions to resolve these cases, and if both sides are reasonable, and the arrears owing aren't outrageous, a settlement could very well be achieved.
Another available alternative is a mortgage loan modification. The ultimate result is the same as mediation – to resolve your differences, and come up with a viable solution whereby you can save your home.
Mediation takes place after a foreclosure lawsuit has been filed. On the other hand, modification can take place pretty much any time. So if you start missing a couple of mortgage payments, why not just call the mortgage company and ask them if you can apply for a loan modification.t the modification process when you are only one or two months behind on your mortgage.
Here are some examples of how the modification process works, and the types of results a person can achieve.
Reduce Your Monthly Mortgage Payments, Lower Your Interest Rate, and Delay Paying Back the Arrears - Get a Mortgage Loan Modification.
You can attempt to work out a deal with your mortgage company that would put all of your arrears at the back end of the mortgage, reduce your interest rate, and reduce your monthly mortgage payment. For example, let's say you are $24,000 behind on your mortgage payments, your interest rate is 6%, your monthly payments are $2000, and you are facing a sheriff's sale.
If we filed a Chapter 13 for you and obtained a successful loan modification, here is an example of the result we might be able to achieve: First, you would no longer be behind on your mortgage. The $24,000 arrears would be placed at the back end of the mortgage.
Second, your interest rate might be reduced to 4%. Over a 30-year mortgage, this 2% reduction would save you a lot of money.
Third, your mortgage payments might be reduced to about $1400 per month, and fourth, the sheriff sale would not take place. You would be classified as totally current on your mortgage payments, and all you have to do is make your future payments of $1400 per month on time.
In addition to the above alternatives, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, many mortgage companies have been offering homeowners something known as a “forbearance”. Forbearance means that the mortgage company permits the homeowner to pause or suspend or reduce their mortgage payments for a certain number of months. The purpose is th give the homeowner an opportunity to make it through a period of financial hardship without being subjected to foreclosure because the homeowner doesn't have the financial ability to make mortgage payments at the present time.
A forbearance does not reduce your debt, and you will have to pay back the missed mortgage payments sometime in the future. For example, once the forbearance period is over, the mortgage company might temporarily increase your monthly payments by adding a hopefully small amount to your regular payment until you catch up to where you should be.
If you're worried about your credit score, you shouldn't be, because a forbearance granted pursuant to the CARES Act has no negative impact on the homeowner's credit score with respect to payments missed during the approved forbearance period. So, under the right set of circumstances, forbearance could work out to be a pretty good deal.
At this point, you've now made it well into the 6th inning, and it's starting to look like you just might win this game. Resolution through mediation or modification does take time. There's a lot of paperwork involved, and there could a certain amount of back and forth negotiations involved during the process. Forbearance, on the other hand, could possibly be a lot easier and a lot quicker way to go.
The main point is that when you are behind in your mortgage payments, you still can have quite a few workout options available to you. So even though it's starting to get a little late in the game, you now have a fighting chance to get your case fully resolved, and you may not have to worry about going in front of a judge and having a full blown trial.
If you can achieve a settlement, well, congratulations because that's it. You've accomplished your goal of saving your home, and you haven't had to go to trial. Therefore, both the foreclosure lawsuit against you and your worries should be over.
Of course, please understand that you have to keep up with your obligations in the future. Whatever deal you have made, well, you'd better abide by the terms of the deal. If something happens in the future where you can't make a payment, make sure to contact the mortgage company or your lawyer, because you don't want to go through another foreclosure again, do you?
What Happens if You Have a Trial and You Lose?
The 7th inning can be a pretty tough inning. If you haven't been able to settle the case, it will soon be time to go to trial in front of the judge. And, you can bet that the mortgage company is probably going to try every trick in the book to win the case.
There is a procedure known as summary judgment whereby the mortgage company can actually convince the judge to rule in their favor without the need to even go to trial. If they file for summary judgment, if you still don't have a lawyer, you might want to talk to one at this point. This is a crucial stage of the case. If you lose at the summary judgment stage, the case is over, and you will soon have a sheriff's sale scheduled.
If you survive the summary judgment process, it will soon be time to appears in front of the foreclosure judge for the real thing – a full trial. Can you win this thing? It really depends on a lot of things, and our purpose here is not to guide you on how to conduct your trial. The purpose is to make you aware of the processes and procedures involved, so that you know what to expect.
If you are going to trial, I suggest that you think very seriously about hiring a lawyer to defend you. There is simply too much at stake here. Even if you don't hire an attorney, at least talk to an attorney that is familiar with foreclosure. Keep in mind that you are going to be in a formal courtroom against a foreclosure lawyer that is probably pretty experienced. A courtroom can be a pretty intimidating place.
Let's Assume the Worst. You Lose. You Have to Be Prepared for This, Because It Surely Can Happen.
Once you've lost, then within a few weeks, you will probably get a notice posted on your door or personally delivered to you. That notice is serious business, and you'd better not ignore it. That notice will advise you that on a certain day, at a certain specific time, and at a certain specific location, your home is going to be sold to the highest bidder. These sales usually take place once a week at the county sheriff's office.
Take a Deep Breath. All Is Not Lost. It's the 8th Inning, but You Still Have a Fighting Chance Here.
First of all, you can postpone the sheriff's sale. No question about it. Call the sheriff's office. The people there will probably be very nice. You are entitled to get two postponements, and each postponement is for four weeks. So you actually have almost two months after the original sheriff's sale date. No reason to panic, at least not just yet. The sheriff's office will tell you how to get the postponement, and it might cost you a small sheriff's fee, something like $28 per postponement (some counties don't charge anything), and it will certainly be worth it.
So at this point, what do you do? Well, since you lost at the foreclosure court, you don't have a whole lot of options. When the judge ruled against you, the judge did so because he/she determined that you were pretty far behind on your mortgage payments, right? Well, now you are going to have to come up with a whole lot of money, and your chances of doing that certainly aren't the greatest. It's not looking too good, is it?
Well, thankfully, the game is not yet over. The 8th inning might be a pretty tough inning, but don't give up the fight. You've still got a shot in the 9th inning, and with a little knowledge and a little money, you might just pull this game out.
The Nervous Ninth. Time for A Grand Slam. Can Someone Hit It out Of the Park?
Many, many baseball games have been won in the bottom of the ninth inning by the home team. It's your home, and now you have to make sure you've got the best team to step up to the plate.
If you don't yet have a lawyer, well, what are you waiting for? With the right advice and the right strategy, you can still win this game. And of course the definition of victory is saving your home, and permanently stopping that sheriff's sale.
At this point it is so important to have the necessary knowledge, because if you've got an experienced veteran who knows what to do, you can completely turn this thing around.
I have had quite a few clients come to me after a sheriff's sale. Sometimes I can still help them, sometimes I can't They didn't know their rights, and how important it is to stop that sheriff's sale.
Someone once told me that everything is easy once you know how. So how do you save your home after you have used your two sheriff's sale postponements? There are at least two ways. One is pretty difficult, and the other is a lot easier.
Let's tell you the tougher one first. You have to file a motion requesting an emergency last minute postponement of the sheriff's sale. It will cost you a $50 filing fee, and you will have to convince the judge that you have very good reasons for your emergency request. For example, you might need to pay the mortgage company $100,000 to get caught up. You can't get this money before the scheduled sale date, but you can get it 3 weeks later, and you can prove it. Well, the judge might have mercy on you, but it's not a sure thing.
Another possibility would be that you have signed a contract to sell the house, and your buyer is ready to buy, but he needs another month before he can get his financing. And since your house is worth more than you owe to payoff your mortgage, if the judge gave you another month, you could walk away with some profit in your pocket, as opposed to losing your home and having no money.
So is there still another legal way to stop the sheriff's sale? Well, they say there is no such thing as a sure thing, but there is something that is pretty close to a sure thing. Welcome to the world of bankruptcy.
You probably could have filed for bankruptcy a long time ago, and you probably could have stopped this foreclosure process a long, long time ago, but for whatever reason, you chose not to do so.
While you still have time, please quickly consult with a knowledgeable and experienced bankruptcy attorney. Filing for bankruptcy before a sheriff's sale will stop that sale in the vast majority of cases. Is it a guarantee in your case?
Well, you'd better ask your attorney that question. And I'm pretty sure your hopefully knowledgeable and experienced attorney will also explain all of the new options that you have available to you once your bankruptcy case has been filed.
At this point, if you file for bankruptcy and stop that sheriff's sale, I would say you haven't yet won the game. But you have tied it. So now you go into extra innings, and anything can happen at that point. But if you are fully aware of the rules, and you play it right, and you have confidence in your teammates and the manager (your attorney), you might just have a pretty good chance to win this thing.
I wish you the very best.