If you or someone you love is facing a possible foreclosure in Ohio, it can be first and foremost a scary and unsettling process to endure.
To gain some sense of control, it's crucial to understand how the process works and the areas where you do have some latitude to influence the outcome in your favor.
For a quick overview on the process, visit Columbus Ohio attorney Troy J. Doucet's explanation of the foreclosure process.
Ohio is a state where foreclosures are judicial, simply meaning that the court oversees the foreclosure process.
Essentially, a foreclosure is just a lawsuit which enables the mortgage company to sue for defaulting on your loan in order to take your house.
Alternatives to Foreclosure
The foreclosure process generally begins when you are 120 days delinquent on your loan.
If you haven't yet reached that point you may want to consider methods to avoid foreclosure all together.
You would also be well advised to consider foreclosure do's and don'ts before you move ahead.
Selling your house before going into foreclosure
Often one of the best things to do is to sell the house before you are forced to start dealing with foreclosure or other alternatives.
This is because when you sell the house, you are covering the loan and the lender's interest is now removed.
The danger with going this route is that you can't take too long the sell the home.
While going the traditional route with an agent is the default way to sell your house, this could result in taking a lot longer to sell than the time frame available before the foreclosure auction.
The only thing that will postpone the auction (if it isn't sold yet) is a signed contract of interest from a buyer, and since most buyers require bank financing approval, which includes appraisals and inspections, you may not have enough time.
This is is where working with a home buying company, such as Home Buyer Cleveland, can really help.
Most homeowners don't know about investor companies that are able to purchase a home quickly, without having to go through all the red tape.
If selling your house, then give us a call or fill out our submission form to get a free, no-hassle quote on what we can offer you for your home.
We buy houses in Cleveland all year long, and we can do it quickly before foreclosure auctions.
Seeking Professional Help!
Facing foreclosure is a complicated process with many nuances only a professional understands.
If you can't afford a lawyer, there are other avenues to find legal expertise.
At any point in the process, it is wise to seek help in maneuvering the process most effectively.
If you're asking, "how can I stop a foreclosure sale in Ohio?", you should consider ways to defend your home against foreclosure.
Bankruptcy Can Stop Foreclosure
Filing for bankruptcy is generally seen as a last resort and holds a significant negative connotation for most people.
But if there is no viable way to catch up on your loan, you may consider filing for bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcies immediately result in an "automatic stay" and offer a means to stop the bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 is normally used when the individual has few or no assets. It is aimed primarily at discharging unsecured debt such as credit cards and medicals bills.
Chapter 7 is a liquidation bankruptcy and wipes out most of general unsecured debts.
Chapter 13 is used for those who own personal assets and seek to them protect them.
The court restructures the debt load so that you still pay off your balances but over a much longer period of time.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy can secure staying in your home indefinitely, but very few debts are discharged completely.
As long as you continue to pay your mortgage payments each month as stipulated, you get to keep your home.
Chapter 13 provides protection in three areas:
In both bankruptcy types, all your creditors are signaled to back off on collection or further action and moving ahead with the foreclosure process stops immediately.
This method works even if the lender has already scheduled your home sale.
This automatic stay makes it impossible for the foreclosure and sale of your property to move forward while the bankruptcy is pending.
This can give you up to four months of delay.
For a comprehensive overview of whether you should file for bankruptcy, watch the candid four-minute video on When should You file for bankruptcy?
During the automatic stay, your lender will be working diligently to lift the stay.
You can find answers to the most commonly asked questions at bankruptcy FAQ's.
Here's how It works!
The foreclosure process officially starts when you lender files a foreclosure summons and complaint about lack of payment on your property.
In some instances, your loan documents may specify that your lender is required to send you certain official notices before moving to the foreclosure summons and complaint phase.
Ohio State doesn't have a legal statute that mandates notice before a lender files a foreclosure case.
However, such notice may be spelled out in provisions in your mortgage loan agreement.
Pre-foreclosure Notices & Time to Cure
There are some stipulations that aren't in the Ohio statutes, but still must be adhered to if they are in your mortgage contract.
If your mortgage document contains a provision that requires the lender to provide written notice of the default before calling the entire loan amount due, this notice must happen even though not stipulated in Ohio foreclosure laws.
Time to cure might also be in your loan agreement. If so, it stipulates that you be allowed a period of time after receiving the notice of default to bring your loan current by paying all past due payments and associated charges before the bank or lender may begin filing for foreclosure.
It is not a part of the Ohio State foreclosure process. You should check your mortgage loan documents to see if these provisions are part of your loan.
The Official Complaint
At the point where are pre-foreclosure requirements have been met, you can expect to receive a complaint.
It can be lengthy or brief but will be a legal document including all pertinent information on the mortgage loan terms, the claim that you have defaulted and what the lender wants to be done as a result.
Responding to the Complaint
Carefully read the complaint and examine the attached documents.
You have 28 days from the date that the summons and complaint were served to respond.
You must file your answer in court within three days of serving your response to the lender.
What If You Don't Respond?
Not filing an answer or filing an answer late may result in the court granting a default judgment against you.
This essentially means the lender automatically wins the foreclosure judgment.
What if You Need More Time to Respond?
You can request that the court grant an extension of time to answer.
This is often referred to as "leave to plead".
Some counties will give you an automatic 30-day leave to plead period given that you and the lender's counsel both agree to the time extension in writing.
If the homeowner involved in the foreclosure in currently serving in the military, foreclosure can be delayed a period of time by invoking the rights provided in the Service Members Civil Relief Act(SCRRA).
This military protection act can allow more time to deal with the foreclosure process.
Is There Any Recourse if You Default?
If you have a good reason for missing the deadline you might still be able to object to the complaint.
If you were ill, did not receive adequate time after being served the complaint or some other legitimate reason, you will generally be given a short period of time to object to the motion after filed - usually less than a week.
In cases where the court holds default hearing, you can appear at the hearing and request to enter your position at that time.
Each individual court has jurisdiction as to whether to grant the request.
What Happens if there are Cross-Claim?
There can be instances where another lender will file an additional cross-claim.
This can happen if you owe another debt that is secured by your property or if you have more than one mortgage.
You must respond to all cross-claims individually just as you were required to respond to the original complaint.
What Happens After My Answer if Filed?
Once you have filed an answer, your case may be assigned to a foreclosure magistrate.
Then at least one pre-trial hearing will be held. This gives you the opportunity to discuss all issues regarding the foreclosure with the presiding judge or magistrate.
It gives you an ideal opportunity to explore a possible resolution with the bank's attorney.
If there is not an adequate reason to go to trial(there's no real dispute that you are in default), then the lender may file a motion for summary judgment.
This essentially asks the court to rule in favor of the lender and forgo a trial as there is no basis for going to court.
Preventing & Mediating a Foreclosure
It merits mentioning that you can seek foreclosure help in Ohio before getting to the point of litigation.
Many Ohio courts offer programs to homeowners who wish to avoid a court battle and provide mediators to reach a less messy solution.
Some possibilities might include resolving the loan debt with a short sale or other options for repayment.
Generally, you can ask for mediation at any time before a judgment is entered.
Courts and judges are not monolithic - and there is no one Ohio foreclosure process timeline.
Generally, the foreclosure action is put on hold while in mediation.
When the mediation proves unsuccessful the foreclosure action resumes.
Ohio Foreclosure Statutes continually change, so it is always wise to go to the most reliable and up-to-date source for the most current information.
The Ohio foreclosure laws can be accessed in the Ohio Revised Code.
Ohio Sheriff Sale Laws allow the buyer to ask for a Writ of Possession and the sheriff will usually give you 3 - 7 days to vacate.
If you do not vacate by the deadline, the sheriff is empowered to remove your belonging from the house.
Following the sheriff sale, there is a redemption period which gives the sheriff 60 days to inform the court of the sale and another 30 days to validate the sale with a "writ of confirmation".
Once the sale has been confirmed, the new purchaser has the right to occupy the property.
Any homeowner has the right to redeem the property in foreclosure at any point up until the sale of the property is confirmed by the court.
The term redemption indicates that you are able to pay off the mortgage loan balance in full as well as any associated fees and costs.
Attorney's fees are not included in this.
If you are seeking to redeem the property and satisfy balance, you will need to request a document which states the payoff amount with an itemized list of all charges for the lender's legal counsel.
The redemption period in Ohio is good for at least 30 days after you receive the itemized payoff document.
Right to Reinstate you Mortgage
If you lack the funds or ability to seek financing needed to fully redeem your original mortgage, you may still have the option to reinstate the loan.
Basically you can stop the foreclosure by bringing your loan current.
Ohio law doesn't make provision for a right of reinstatement, but your specific loan may provide you the right for reinstatement.
If it does, you reinstate by paying the agreed amount by the agreed deadline and bringing the loan current.
The short answer is 150 to 180 days.
But there are many variables that can affect the time of foreclosure.
If uncontested 150 - 180 days is the general time range.
If the homeowner contests the foreclosure, asks for delays/adjournments or if bankruptcy is filed it will clearly exceed this time frame.
Hopefully, you have gained a general understanding of the foreclosure process in Ohio and what can be done to stop or avoid the process.
Perhaps more importantly, you are armed with the tools and resources to move forward.
When you find yourself financially unable to meet your mortgage obligations, being armed with information provides options for saving your home.