Foreclosure Case Basics

The foreclosure process in Court takes about a year from when the plaintiff starts a case to the sale of the home. This section gives you a general idea of what can happen in a foreclosure case and links to other places where you can learn more.

  1. Summons and Complaint: The plaintiff mortgage holder starts a case against you with written legal papers called a Summons and Complaint. Copies of these papers are delivered to you, the defendant borrower. The plaintiff files the papers in the Supreme Court. Plaintiff also files a Lis Pendens in Court. This warns other people that there is a court case about your property. The Summons and Complaint tell you and the Court what the case is about and that you have to file an Answer. When you get the Summons and Complaint, you do not have to move out of our home. The Judge is the only one who can order you to move.
  2. Answer: The Answer is where you tell the Court and the plaintiff your side of the story. It is very important that you Answer the Summons and Complaint. If you don’t, the Judge can order a foreclosure judgment against you and you will lose your home.
  3. Settlement Conference: If the foreclosure is about your home where you live and there are no more than four living units, your case will have a settlement conference within 60 days after the plaintiff files proof of services and a RJI with the Court. If you and the plaintiff agree on a settlement, the case is over.
  4. Discovery, Evidence, Trial: If the case is not settled at the conference, and you filed an Answer, the case then follows the basics steps of a court case. But, the plaintiff can ask the court for summary judgment if it thinks you do not have a good defense to losing your home.
  5. Foreclosure Judgment: If a Judge orders the foreclosure and sale of your home, it will be sold at an auction sale at the courthouse. You can stop the sale up until the auction by paying the money. The plaintiff can get a judgment of foreclosure after a trial, or after a summary judgment motion or a motion for a default judgment.

During the case, if you or the plaintiff want to ask the Judge for something in the case, this is done by filing motion papers or an order to show cause. For example, you might make a motion to let you file a late answer, or vacate a default judgment. The plaintiff might make a motion for summary judgment that you will need to answer.

See this flowchart on the Paths of a Foreclosure in New York State.


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