Welcome to day 4 of the trial version of Short Sale your Home and Get Paid course.
Today we’re going to talk about the best way to file an answer if you live in a judicial foreclosure state. I talked about filing an answer in the delay strategies in the last lesson and I wanted to go into more detail because this is a practical thing you can do that may very well give you 30 to 90 days extra time. Please remember that I am not an attorney and pretty much have to advise you to run everything you do by an attorney. I do give you a sample answer which you will see in a link below this video (if you are a subscriber), but it will be well worth your time and money to have an attorney draw you up an answer.
When you draft an answer you can either do it with a bunch of legalese and actually answer every numbered paragraph on your summons, point-by-point or you can kind of put it more in a letter form and just talk about your hardship, explain everything that’s happened, what you’re doing to correct the situation, and of course ask for more time.
You could also do a kind of hybrid version where you answer the points on the summons and then explain a little bit of your situation and ask for more time. By telling a story you can paint yourself as a poor, unsophisticated person, who has been taken advantage of by a big mean bank. The idea being that you pull on the empathy strings of the judge or magistrate that would be reading that answer. A more formal style however might get more precise results.
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In the foreclosure packet there will be numbered sections which I just eluded to. They set the facts as the plaintiff sees them and then ask for a judgment based on those facts by the judge or magistrate. In a formal answer you would typically address each numbered section, as a single fact and answer whether you, one, agree or two, disagree, with that fact. Based on your answers for each numbered section you would then state your conclusion or plea, to the judge at the end of the formal answer. In the sample answer which you can download from the link below, you can see I included a little phrase, “Deny for lack of knowledge.” You can say that you deny any fact for a “lack of knowledge” even if you have the slightest doubt about the smallest part of that section. So even if you’re not totally sure about something you can deny that. The plaintiff will then be forced to come back before the court with actual documentation proving their assertions. That can take time and it keeps the lenders attorneys from using the automated assembly line approach to foreclosure. So if you agree with all the facts and agree with what the plaintiff is asking for, or, if you simply don’t answer at all, your case will go to default judgment. A default judgment simply means that it is a judgment by default for the plaintiff because nothing is needed to be proved or argued because you didn’t argue anything. Typically if your case is expedited and goes straight to default judgment the process to foreclosure in the Cleveland area is 5-7 months from start to finish. Other local areas will differ time wise from as short as 4 months to as long as 18 months.
After you answer each numbered section you would ask for something that benefits you based on your answer. In the example answer I include here I state, “Wherefore defendant asks that the plaintiffs complaint be dismissed.” I asked that the plaintiffs complaint be dismissed on that example, however you could also possibly say something like “Defendant wants to avoid another foreclosure in X county, is attempting to sell property and has listed it with the local licensed real-estate agent, wherefore, defendant asks that plaintiffs complaint be delayed for 90 days while defendant attempts to sell property and pay plaintiff amount due.”
After you’ve completed your answer you would simply file that with your county clerk of courts office. Filing should be completely free for you. You may want to check with the clerk of courts office to see if they have any extra bits of advice they can offer you. Usually you can file your answer by simply mailing it to the clerk of courts office, but call and ask first. Otherwise you have to go to the clerk of courts office and file it in person.
Also make sure you insert your name and plaintiff attorneys name. Obviously don’t make the mistake of leaving some of the specific bits of information that are currently on the sample answer I provide. Change it to your situation with the proper case number, proper court name and make sure you mail a copy of it to the plaintiffs attorney as well.
In addition to this sample answer, I also have a sample continuance, you would file it the day the first hearing is set. This could easily buy you an extra 30 to 90 days as well. As always please give me your questions and comments below, I’ll attempt to answer them as best as possible and I’ll see you in the next lesson.
Disclaimer- You should always use an attorney if possible to represent you in any legal matter. I am not giving you legal advice. The information in this blog is for educational purposes only. Consult an attorney before using any paperwork or filing anything in court.