The first step in a foreclosure suit is the filing of a lis pendens. A lis pendens is recorded in the public records, putting the public on notice that a lawsuit has been filed against you. After your lender files the lis pendens and the Complaint, a process server will serve you with the lis pendens, the Complaint and the Summons. The Summons detail your rights and responsibilities regarding the lawsuit that has been filed against you.
Once you are served with the Summons, you typically have 20 days from the date of service to answer the Complaint. An Answer is your opportunity to respond to the Complaint and assert your legal defenses. It is very important that you answer and raise all possible defenses. Failing to answer will not only expedite the foreclosure process, but it may also waive any defenses that you may have to the foreclosure lawsuit.
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If you have not filed an appropriate answer within the provided period, your lender will request the Clerk of Court to enter a Default against you. A Default means that you are forfeiting your right to present arguments against foreclosure. After obtaining a Default, your lender will request a Summary Judgment hearing. Summary Judgment means that there are no material issues in the case, and that the judge should rule based on the law. Summary Judgment hearings are generally the last opportunity you have to be heard. The judge will enter a final judgment and specify the exact amounts owed to your lender, including principal, interest, attorney fees, expense, and court costs. At this time, the judge will also set a foreclosure sale date. The foreclosure sale is the last step of the foreclosure process. Generally set for 30-45 days after the final judgment, the foreclosure sale is when your property is auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Once the property is sold at auction, the Clerk of Court will enter a Certificate of Sale and serve a copy on each party. The Certificate of Sale tells the homeowner or resident that the property has been sold and provides them with the name of the new owner. If there are no objections to the sale within 10 days of filing the Certificate of Sale, the Clerk will issue a Certificate of Title. It is only when the Certificate of Title is filed that the sale is confirmed and title to the property passes to the purchaser.
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