Through the first six months of 2020, the foreclosure rates throughout the country hit an all-time low. While the rates remained high in some states, like New Jersey, they dropped in most other states despite the strange circumstances that many homeowners faced this year.

With that being said, it’s worth noting that there were still thousands upon thousands of homeowners who faced foreclosures in 2020. The total number eclipsed the 165,000 mark between January and June.

If you were one of the people who went through a foreclosure, you may have faced what is called a sheriff sale. A sheriff sale is something that people often have to deal with when their homes are foreclosed upon.

Every homeowner all across America should be well aware of what a sheriff sale is and know how one works. They should also get all the financial advice they need to avoid a sheriff sale at all costs since it’s usually not good news for their futures.

Here is everything you need to know about a sheriff sale and the process that comes along with one.

What Is a Sheriff Sale?

Before we get too far into discussing the sheriff sale process, it’s important for you to know the answer to the question, “What is a sheriff sale?” A sheriff sale is essentially the final step that is taken during a foreclosure, and it’ll typically result in you losing your home if things make it that far.

Prior to a sheriff sale happening, a mortgage company has to obtain a final judgment against you in your foreclosure case. They must then go through the process of scheduling a sheriff sale so that they can sell a home that you own.

As its name would suggest, a sheriff sale is not something that is held by your mortgage company. Instead, it’s the responsibility of the sheriff in your specific county to sell homes during sheriff sales arranged by mortgage companies.

Each county throughout the country takes a slightly different approach to sheriff sales. Whether your home is going to be subjected to a New Jersey sheriff sale, a Philadelphia sheriff sale, or a sheriff sale somewhere else, you should find out how it works in your specific area.

But generally speaking, most counties will list homes that are going to be sold during sheriff sales on their websites. They’ll also allow people to learn more about upcoming sheriff sales by contacting their offices.

How Will You Find Out About a Sheriff Sale?

Oftentimes, homeowners worry about how they’re going to hear about their houses being sold during sheriff sales. They’re under the impression that they’re going to come home one day and find that they’re no longer permitted to set foot inside their houses.

But this, of course, is not how someone is going to find out about a sheriff sale. There are laws that have been put into place that call for sheriffs to take almost every avenue possible to advertise upcoming sheriff sales.

Here are just some of the ways in which they have to go about letting people know that sheriff sales are happening:

  • They have to put a notice about a sheriff sale into at least two local newspapers in their county (and it has to appear in these papers at least three weeks prior to the sale)
  • A notice has to be posted in a sheriff’s office in the weeks leading up to the sale
  • A notice has to be posted somewhere on the property that is scheduled to be sold
  • A mortgage company must send out a separate notice to a homeowner to let them know that a sheriff sale is about to occur

The goal is to give a homeowner every possible opportunity to avoid their house being sold during a sheriff sale. While some people will actively ignore all these notices, there is no denying that sheriffs and mortgage companies will make every effort to get the word out about sheriff sales.

How Does the Sheriff Sale Process Play Out?

Once all of the proper notices have been given for a sheriff sale, the sheriff sale process itself will start to play out. And it’s a fairly simple and straightforward process once it begins.

A sheriff sale is scheduled for a certain day and time and is usually held in the same place by a sheriff. Most of the time, sheriff sales take place in a sheriff’s office.

Rather than relying on sealed bids, a sheriff sale tends to feature interested parties vocally bidding on different properties. These parties agree to purchase homes during a sheriff sale with any mortgages and liens on properties still attached to them.

Those who buy homes at sheriff sales also have to go through the process of removing a homeowner from the property that they once owned. They’ll usually have to do it by obtaining a warranty and physically removing them from a home. This can take a month or more in many cases.

Homeowners can sometimes fight back against this by asking a judge to give them more time to vacate the premises. But after their home has been sold during a sheriff sale, it’s usually only a matter of time before they have to give up the good fight and move out of their houses.

Is There Any Way to Delay a Sheriff Sale?

When you learn that your home is going to be sold during a sheriff sale, it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. It can be so frustrating when you think about all the time and money that you put into your home only to lose it to foreclosure.

But you should know that you don’t necessarily have to just sit back and accept that you’re going to lose your home. You can also try to take several steps to delay a sheriff sale, either temporarily or maybe even for good.

Take a look at several things that you can do to stop your home from going up for sale during a sheriff sale:

  • You can obtain an adjournment from your sheriff to delay a sheriff sale for up to 30 days (and you can do this twice in most states at your request and up to five times total if you and your mortgage company can agree to do it)
  • You can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which will automatically stop your home from being sold during a sheriff sale
  • You can work with your mortgage company on a loan modification

Although you still may face a sheriff sale later on despite doing these things, it might be worth trying to delay the sale. It could give you the time that you need to work out other arrangements.

Will You Need a Lawyer to Stop a Sheriff Sale?

Delaying a sheriff sale through the use of an adjournment is something that you can often do yourself. You can take a trip down to see your county sheriff and agree to pay a fee to have an adjournment put into place. You won’t need a lawyer to help you do that.

You will, however, have to work with a lawyer in many other instances to stop a sheriff sale from happening. For example, you’ll need to have a good bankruptcy lawyer on your side if you’re going to try and delay a sheriff sale by filing for bankruptcy.

You might also want to speak with a lawyer simply to see what your options are when you suspect that a sheriff sale might be in your near future. They can talk to you about what options you have and agree to represent you in court if you end up having to make any appearances.

It never hurts to sit down with a lawyer for at least one meeting when you’re on the brink of foreclosure. They may be able to shed some light on options that you hadn’t even considered prior to talking with them.

What Is the Best Way to Find a Lawyer to Help You With a Sheriff Sale?

If you decide that you would like to discuss your foreclosure situation with a lawyer, it’s going to be important for you to look for the right one. When people feel like they’re in a desperate spot, they’ll sometimes contact the first lawyer they can track down and agree to work with them.

Don’t do this! Instead, conduct a search for great bankruptcy and foreclosure lawyers in your area. You should be more than capable of finding one that’s going to prove to be a great fit for you.

The lawyer that you decide to work with should be:

  • Very experienced when it comes to handling cases that involve bankruptcy and/or foreclosure
  • Located in a place that’s easy for you to get to since you’ll usually have to make several trips to their office
  • Affordable enough to fit nicely into your budget so that you don’t get any deeper into debt

You might feel like you need to rush through the process of trying to find a lawyer to help you out. But you should take your time with it since you’re going to be making a very important decision.

Can You Reverse a Sheriff Sale?

Here’s one thing that a lot of people don’t realize with regards to sheriff sales: Even if your home sells at a sheriff sale, you might still have the option to stop someone else from moving in and taking ownership of it.

How? Well, in most states, you’ll have about ten days to redeem your property following a sheriff sale. You can arrange to stay in the home and hold onto it by either working out a refinancing plan for it or finding a way to sell it yourself so that you can pay what you owe on it.

But if you don’t act fast, this option could go right out the window before long. You’re only going to get ten days to spring into action. Otherwise, you will lose your home as a result of a sheriff sale.

How Can a Sheriff Sale Impact Your Life?

Some people feel so dejected towards the end of the foreclosure process that they let a sheriff sale go on without putting up much of a fight. Even if you feel like doing this, you should try not to since it’s going to have a big impact on your life.

Check out just a few ways that a sheriff sale will impact your life, both now and in the future:

  • It’ll force you to find a new place to live almost right away
  • It’ll make it hard for you to qualify for another home loan (and even finding a rental could be a challenge!)
  • It’ll put a damper on almost any financial plans that you have
  • It’ll kill your credit score and make taking out loans for other things impossible

There is almost nothing good about seeing your home sold during a sheriff sale. But you do have some options that can prevent you from watching your home get bought by someone else.

You should contact a lawyer today to hear about what these options might be for you. You might be surprised to hear about how one can help you get yourself out of a messy situation. 

Understanding How a Sheriff Sale Works Is Important

People tend to get scared when they hear the words “sheriff sale.” They assume that they’re going to get thrown out of their homes as soon as a sheriff sale is over.

By understanding how a sheriff sale works, you can find out what’s really going to happen to you. You can also educate yourself on what options you’ll have as far as steering clear of a sheriff sale goes. You could prevent one altogether by taking the right steps.

Want to get your hands on more great financial advice that has to do with other areas of your life? Browse through the articles on our blog to find it.