Ms. Garner now begins a second series — there is some overlap, but good information bears repeating!
HOW TO PREVENT A DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST YOU FOR FORECLOSURE
By N. Ana Garner, Esq.
Foreclosure lawsuits are rising alarmingly in Santa Fe County. Chances are that you or someone you know is about to go into foreclosure, or has already been “served” (delivered) the papers showing the lawsuit has been filed against them. These papers are the Summons, Complaint in Foreclosure, and typically, at least two exhibits to the complaint, the Note and the Mortgage. You can always hire an attorney to help you. For those of you who want to do it yourself (which I don’t recommend, but sometimes it’s the only way), the purpose of this article is to tell you why it is critical that you file an Answer, and secondly, how to do it. Nothing is sadder to me that seeing a default judgment entered against someone when it DOESN’T have to happen that way.
First, a little background about foreclosure suits. Did you know that the majority of foreclosure cases are easily won by the bank, without trial or proof of one thing, simply because the homeowner didn’t even file an Answer to the Complaint? The statistics are that approximately 85% of all foreclosure cases filed in New Mexico, as well as the rest of the country, result in a Default Judgment entered by the Court. A “Default Judgment” is one that the Court is forced to grant to the Bank because the homeowner didn’t even file an Answer to the Complaint, and of course, never appears to contest the Bank’s motion for default judgment. They don’t even have to give the homeowner notice of this motion if the homeowner didn’t file an answer. If no one utters a peep, what is the Court to do? THE ONE SURE WAY TO PREVENT DEFAULT JUDGMENT OF FORECLOSURE IS TO FILE AN ANSWER. I’m going to show you how, below.
Why are default judgments something to avoid like a bad disease? First off, you will get evicted from your home within short order, typically a couple of months (assuming you haven’t moved out already). You can also be left with a huge deficiency judgment, which is a judgment against you for the difference between what your mortgage balance plus costs are, and what the bid on your home is. A deficiency judgment hangs over your head legally for up to 14 years. This means that wages can be garnished; liens can be placed on any other property you or your spouse may own, and bank accounts can be seized. This is the worst possible outcome to the financial struggle that led to falling behind payments. The only way out is bankruptcy and that may not be a good option for everyone.
Ana Garner, Attorney at Law, represents only homeowners in the Santa Fe and Albuquerque areas. She has 30 years of litigation experience in N.M. courts. Her mission is to protect the integrity of the judicial process in foreclosure actions and expose the fraud being perpetrated on the courts and citizens. Her contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone 505 474-5300. She will review foreclosure lawsuit documents at no charge if they are scanned and e-mailed to her with the subject line, Free Review of Foreclosure docs.
This begins a new series of guest posts by foreclosure defense attorney N. Ana Garner. Please come back tomorrow for more in the series.