What Happens When You Are Served With Foreclosure Papers

Many people have experienced a significant loss of income during the recent pandemic. For some, this means that they missed mortgage payments and may be facing foreclosure on their home. If you were recently served with foreclosure papers, you may have many different questions. Now what? Where do I go from here? I was served foreclosure papers, what does it mean when it says I have to respond in 30 days? We understand how this can be confusing and concerning, and our experienced team is here to help. This article will explain what to do next and how our team of foreclosure attorneys could potentially help you if you live in New York and you are facing foreclosure.

When Are Foreclosure Papers Served

Typically, a mortgage lender will wait until the homeowner has failed to make a mortgage payment for 90 to 120 days before the foreclosure process begins. During that period, the lender will send the homeowner a demand letter that requests payment of the missed mortgage payment. If you are a homeowner who has received such a letter, it is crucial that you act immediately and respond appropriately. This is when you may still be able to work with your lender to stop the foreclosure or find a solution that can save your home, such as making payments to bring your loan up to date, or refinancing with a different lender.

If the homeowner fails to respond to the demand letter, the lender will file a suit in court requesting foreclosure on the home and the homeowner will receive a summons from the court clerk to appear in court along with the complaint that the lender filed. From that point, the lender normally will have 20 or 30 days to file an answer in court.

what happens when you are served with foreclosure papers

If the homeowner does not respond to the complaint, the homeowner will be considered to have defaulted on the loan and a judge can make a default judgment that will allow the lender to hold a foreclosure sale or auction. Foreclosure sales typically take place about four months after the judge decides against the homeowner.

I Got Served With Foreclosure Papers, Now What?

If you are someone who was served with foreclosure papers, you may be thinking “Okay, I was served with foreclosure papers and the bank is investigating, what’s next?” Well, what happens next depends on a lot of different decisions you can make. You have many different options to consider if you were recently served foreclosure papers. For example, the lender may even be wrongly initiating foreclosure against you. One missed mortgage payment is not enough to begin the foreclosure process. Rather, the lender must show that you have missed payment for a continuous period of 120 days, and then send you a demand letter requesting payment. If you were recently served mortgage papers, you should consider the steps below.

Take Note Of The Date

First, take note of the date on the foreclosure documents. You have a limited time to respond to the foreclosure documents when you receive them. In New York, you will typically need to respond to the foreclosure complaint within 20 days.

Find An Experienced Attorney

If you were recently served foreclosure papers, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you think through all of your options and find the best path forward. A knowledgeable foreclosure attorney can help you protect your personal interests and potentially save your home. For example, the attorney potentially could help you postpone, or even completely stop the foreclosure. The attorney will also help you respond appropriately to the complaint that your lender filed in court. Our experienced attorneys are ready to help. Contact the Law Office of Yuriy Moshes today if you live in New York City and you need assistance with the foreclosure process.   

File A Response

After receiving the foreclosure complaint, your attorney will help you file an answer to the complaint. The answer will help the court understand your side of the story and potentially stop the foreclosure action against you.

Attempt To Work Out Foreclosure

Often, after the complaint and answer are filed in court, the court will schedule a settlement conference between the lender and you. At the settlement conference, you and your lender will try to come to an agreement that could prevent foreclosure. It is crucial to have an attorney with you at this point in the process in order to protect your personal interests and your home.

Try Loan Modification

Sometimes, during the settlement conference, the lender may agree to modify your loan in order to help you be able to pay the loan back. An experienced foreclosure attorney knows how to negotiate with your lender in order to find a potential loan modification that works for both parties.

How to File a Response After I Got Served With Foreclosure Papers

After receiving foreclosure papers, you and your attorney can carefully review the statements made by the lender in the complaint. Your attorney can also review your original loan documents and other loan information to see if you and your lender have any agreements that may affect the foreclosure process. Then, your attorney can work with you to file a response (known as an “answer”) to the complaint. In the answer, typically you can:

  1. Admit or Deny every paragraph in the complaint—by admitting or denying the statements in the complaint, you can show the court what parts of the complaint are true and where your experiences are different from what the lender is telling the court.
  1. Write Your Reasons Why The House Should Not Be Foreclosed— when responding to the complaint, you can show the court why your house should not be foreclosed and what has led to the foreclosure paperwork being filed.
  1. Mention Any Reasons Why Taking Over Your Home Isn’t Fair—your answer will also demonstrate to the court why your lender’s actions may be unfair. For example, maybe your lender did not properly notify you of the complaint. Or, maybe you are in the process of refinancing and you are not actually behind on payments.
  1. Other Points to Include—you can also include other points in the answer, such as an explanation about any unfair practices the lender may have made during the mortgage process. Your experienced foreclosure attorney can help you find all the best responses for your answer.

What If I Do Not Respond

If you fail to respond to the foreclosure papers, the lender can get a default judgment against you and you will likely lose your home. Without an answer, the court cannot hear your side of the story and why foreclosure may not be fair for you. In fact, if you do not respond, your home may be sold even without you knowing.

How To Avoid Foreclosure Once Served With Papers

There are many different ways to avoid foreclosure after you have been served foreclosure papers. Do not feel like everything is hopeless at this point. You can still save your home. Importantly, in New York, you can stop the foreclosure from taking place at any point by paying the lender what you owe.  But, there may be other solutions, too. A knowledgeable foreclosure attorney can help you consider all the way that may be possible, such as the examples below.

Short Sale

A short sale is a free option that can get you out of your mortgage obligations quickly. A short sale simply means selling your home for a smaller sum than what is owed on the mortgage. It may lower your credit score, but it can help you avoid foreclosure.


Filing for bankruptcy is not necessarily the most advantageous option for someone facing foreclosure because it only pauses the foreclosure process temporarily. Still, filing for bankruptcy may be a solution that could give you the time to find a way to pay your lender, or to stop other debt obligations so you have money for your mortgage. Your attorney can help you review your options and see if bankruptcy is the best option for you.

Deed In Lieu

A deed in lieu of foreclosure refers to when a borrower gives the mortgage company the deed to the home rather than continuing the foreclosure process. This would mean losing your home, but it would satisfy the default on your mortgage payments.

Who Can Help Once I Get Served With Foreclosure Papers

After being served foreclosure papers, the best thing to do is to talk with an experienced foreclosure attorney and discuss all your options. The attorney can help you find a path forward that may save your home, or at least help you from being too injured financially during the foreclosure process. The attorney can help you with

  • Contesting foreclosure
  • Finding a way to make your loan payment current
  • Potentially refinancing, 
  • Negotiating with the lender, or
  • Determining if selling or other options may be best.

Contact Our Foreclosure Professionals

Our foreclosure professionals know how difficult this moment in your life is, and they are here to help. Please, if you are someone facing potential foreclosure, contact us today to see how we can help.


How long does foreclosure take after being served papers?

In New York, the foreclosure sale can take place anywhere from four months to several years after the lender initiates the foreclosure process.

Can I stop a foreclosure by paying the past due amount?

Yes. In New York, you can stop the foreclosure process at any point simply by paying the amount you owe your lender.

What happens when a home goes into foreclosure?

The foreclosure process looks different for each individual facing foreclosure. Sometimes, a person may pay the amount they owe their lender and exit the foreclosure process without problems. Other times, the person may have their home sold without their knowledge because they failed to respond to the foreclosure papers.

Can the bank foreclose without notification?

No. New York laws require the lender/bank to send a notification to the borrower before beginning the foreclosure process.

Can I just walk away from my mortgage?

Technically, yes. You can have a short sale of the property, allow the home to be involuntarily foreclosed upon, or voluntarily just let the bank take your home if you decide not to continue paying on your mortgage. Often, walking away is not the best solution, however.