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Overview of how a foreclosure works in New York

No one in the Rockland County, New York area ever wants to get into financial problems and have to worry about losing their home to foreclosure. Unfortunately, though, even hardworking New York families can find themselves in a situation in which the bank begins the process of taking back their home. These sorts of situations often arise in the case of an unexpected job loss or a sudden health crisis.

New York is what is called a "judicial" foreclosure state. This is generally good news for debtors since the process tends to take longer than in "non-judicial" states and also requires the involvement and supervision of the local courts. Overall, the process lasts about one year and three months.

Generally speaking, foreclosure begins when a homeowner misses a payment on their mortgage and gets assessed a late fee. As with any debt, the first step is for the bank or loan servicer to contact the homeowner and see if there was a mistake or some unusual circumstance.

In New York, a lender is required to send a warning letter to a homeowner if the bank is contemplating a foreclosure. This warning letter gives the borrower 90 days either to catch up on working something out with the bank before the bank files suit. Some time after this warning letter, the bank or the bank's attorney will send a formal demand for payment in full of the loan.

After that, the bank will likely file a foreclosure suit and also put a "lis pendens" on the property, making it more difficult to sell or transfer. Like any other suit, the bank has to prove its case in court and get an order allowing it to foreclose. The process can take up to nine months. Finally, the bank has to sell the property at public auction, which usually takes four or so months. Once this sale is complete, it is too late to save the home, even with a bankruptcy filing.

Prior to the sale being completed, a homeowner can file for bankruptcy protection. This will not necessarily stop a foreclosure permanently, but it will delay the process and may allow a homeowner to catch up on payments.

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