≡ Menu

How Long Does a Foreclosure Take

If you are a homeowner who is not up to date with the mortgage payments or if you are aready in the middle of a foreclosure proceeding, you may be wondering, how long does a foreclosure take? In New York, foreclosure takes around 15 months from the time of the missed payment until the sale of the house. However, depending on your foreclosure attorney, this process can take longer, which could buy you more time to come up with the funds to pay your mortgage arrears. We’ve seen foreclosures take years.

New York is a judicial foreclosure state. It requires a lawsuit in court to foreclose on mortgages of residential real properties such as traditional one to three-dwelling family homes and condominium units. Cooperative apartments, on the other hand, are considered personal properties because ownership is a share in the company that owns the real property. For this reason, foreclosures in coops are quicker.

New York requires a 90-day pre-foreclosure notice before filing a complaint for foreclosure with the court. Federal law, on the other hand, requires foreclosure to begin only until 120 days have passed from the time of default or a missed payment. These periods run concurrently. For this reason, foreclosure is normally filed, at the very least, 120 days after you miss a payment.

(Note: S50001/A40001 was signed into law on September 2, 2021 by New York Governor Kathy Hochul, extending the moratorium on residential foreclosures until January 15, 2022 by the homeowner’s filing of a hardship declaration with the mortgage lender, other foreclosing party, or the court.)

When you miss a mortgage payment, the mortgage lender will begin to contact you around two weeks thereafter to let you know that late fees have been assessed. Thirty days after you miss a payment, you will likely receive the pre-foreclosure notice. This pre-foreclosure notice should be in 14-point font and will inform you of the risk of foreclosure, the length and amount of default, possible loan modifications or options to prevent foreclosure, a warning that no action could lead to foreclosure, contact information for government housing counseling agencies, and a notice that the borrower does not have to vacate the home until there is a court order. Ninety days after the pre-foreclosure notice, the mortgage lender can already file the summons and complaint with the court. At this point, 120 days have lapsed from the time you missed your payment, complying with both the 120-day and 90-day period required by both federal and state laws.

Once you receive a summons and complaint, you need to file your answer within 20 or 30 days, depending on whether you received the summons personally or by mail. It is important to file your answer, because if you don’t, the court may issue a default judgment, which would significantly shorten the foreclosure process. In a default judgment, the court may accept the lender’s evidence because you have not filed any answer controverting the lender. The judge will refer the case to a referee who will file a report on the exact amount that you owe. Once the court confirms the referee’s report, a foreclosure judgment is already issued. For this reason, filing an answer is very important in delaying a foreclosure sale.

Although it might be counterintuitive to get and pay for a lawyer to prepare your answer to the complaint since you already can’t pay your mortgage arrears, it is highly recommended to get a foreclosure attorney in preparing your court documents because a skilled foreclosure attorney can make the foreclosure procedure longer by raising specific legal defenses that would require the production of complex evidence and would lead to a denial of the lender’s motion for summary judgment. Delays in foreclosure will work in your favor because it would give you more time to gather the funds to update your mortgage arrears.

Once you file your answer, a mandatory settlement conference is scheduled. There could be several conferences in a span of many months. This conference will allow you and the lender to reach an agreement on how to prevent foreclosure, such as a reduction in interest rate, an extension of the length of time for repayment, a different type of loan, or any combination of the three. If no agreement is reached during the mandatory settlement conference, the lender will usually file a summary judgment motion, asking the court to decide on the case since no genuine issue of fact exists, except for the amount of damages. If a genuine issue of fact exists that would require trial, the court will deny the motion for summary judgment.

If you want your foreclosure procedure to take longer, it is important in your answer to raise issues of fact and complex legal defenses that would require trial, such as being a victim of predatory lending. A skilled foreclosure attorney can help analyze your case and craft strong complex legal defenses that will directly impact the length of your case.

In trial, the lender has to prove his case. After trial, the judge can either dismiss the foreclosure complaint or sign the foreclosure judgment. If a foreclosure judgment signed, an auction is held and your home is sold to the highest bidder.

How long would this foreclosure process take? It could take 15 months up to 4 years, depending on the complexity of your legal defenses. For this reason, it is important to get a skilled foreclosure attorney to help you in your case. Should you need assistance, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.