Iowa Foreclosure Laws
Understanding Iowa foreclosure laws is crucial. Henkels & Baker PC can guide you through the process. Call our skilled attorneys today for more information.
Understanding Iowa’s Foreclosure Laws
Foreclosure laws are an important aspect of real estate regulations, shaping the process through which lenders can reclaim properties due to a loan default. If you are a homeowner, potential buyer, or investor, you should be informed on this topic to safeguard your property rights and financial investments.
The following guide will dive into Iowa state foreclosure laws, offering crucial insights for individuals facing financial hardship or considering real estate transactions within the state. You can also consult our foreclosure attorneys for personalized guidance about your situation.
Iowa Foreclosures at a Glance
Under Iowa law, foreclosure can be both a judicial and nonjudicial process, typically spanning several months from the time of the initial missed mortgage payment to the sale of the foreclosed property.
In judicial foreclosures, the mortgage holder files a foreclosure petition in court and presents evidence of the borrower’s default on mortgage payments. The court then issues a judgment. If a property is foreclosed, it can be sold to repay the debt. Nonjudicial foreclosures, on the other hand, do not involve court intervention.
Alternative Nonjudicial Voluntary Foreclosure in Iowa
In Iowa, an “alternative nonjudicial voluntary foreclosure” allows the borrower to willingly give up the mortgaged property. By agreeing to a nonjudicial foreclosure, you give up the right to redeem the property in the future. In exchange, the lender waives their right to a deficiency judgment. A deficiency judgment allows the lender to recover additional funds if the money realized from the sale of the property is less than the debt owed on the property.
Legal Process of Judicial Foreclosure in Iowa
If your lender initiates foreclosure, it will most likely be judicial. Iowa foreclosure laws are primarily codified in Iowa Code § 654. Section 654 outlines the legal procedures, the rights and responsibilities of lenders and borrowers, and the rules for foreclosure sales.
The foreclosure process has two major stages: pre-foreclosure and foreclosure.
This is the period of time between the day you default on your mortgage payments and the start of the foreclosure action.
In Iowa, the mortgage lender must first send you a notice of default notifying you of the 30-day reinstatement period. For agricultural properties, reinstatement is 45 days. You can cure the default during this time by paying the overdue mortgage payments and any fees owed. If you fail to make the loan current, your lender will send another demand to pay off the entire loan amount within 14 days. Your lender will also provide you with information on any available financial counseling or mediation services to help remedy the situation.
If you fail to cure the default after receiving the notice of default and demand letter, your lender can then file for foreclosure.
Foreclosure starts when your lender files a foreclosure lawsuit or petition with the county clerk. After filing the lawsuit, your lender will serve you with a summons informing you of the court action. You have twenty days to respond to the foreclosure petition. If you fail to answer, your lender can request, and the court can enter, a default judgment against you.
After answering the complaint, the litigation process begins. During this time, the lender, borrower, and their attorneys will participate in discovery and may file motions with the court. For example, the lender may file a summary judgment motion arguing that there is no dispute of the case’s material facts and requesting that the court grant it judgment as a matter of law.
If the court grants summary judgment in favor of the lender or if you lose at trial, the court will enter an order for your property to be sold at a sheriff’s sale. Iowa Code § 626.75 states that the notice of sale must be posted in at least three public places around the county and must be printed at least twice in the local newspaper. These notices alert potential buyers and other interested parties of the sale.
The property is then auctioned off at the county courthouse or another designated location on the specified sale date. The highest bidder at the sheriff’s sale will acquire the property. The lender is allowed to make a credit bid on the property, and if the credit bid is the highest, the lender will acquire the property.
If the sheriff’s sale price is less than the debt owed on the property, the lender may request a deficiency judgment. If the court awards a deficiency judgment, you will be required to pay the lender the difference between the foreclosure sale price and the amount you owe on the property. However, if the sale price is higher than the amount you owe, you are entitled to the surplus money.
After the auction, the sale must be confirmed by the court. Once confirmed, the court will issue a sheriff’s deed transferring ownership to the winning bidder.
Stopping the Foreclosure Process
Reinstating Your Mortgage Before Foreclosure
You can stop foreclosure by reinstating your mortgage once you receive the default notice. Your mortgage can be reinstated if you bring the delinquent mortgage payments current by paying a lump sum. You will also have to pay any fees and expenses incurred due to the default. If you are financially able to cure the default, this is the safest option for keeping your house.
Redeeming Your Home After the Foreclosure Sale
Pursuant to Iowa Code §§ 628.26, 628.27, and 628.3, some homeowners can redeem their property after the sheriff’s sale. The general post-sale redemption period is one year. However, if the lender waives a deficiency judgment and the mortgage contract terms allow it, the redemption period may be shortened to six months or three months for a non-agricultural property. If you abandon the property, the redemption period is reduced to only 60 days.
Filing for bankruptcy triggers an automatic stay on the foreclosure process. Creditors are prevented from taking specific actions to recover debts from you. Any foreclosure proceedings will be put on hold pending the conclusion of the bankruptcy case. You should consult a bankruptcy attorney in Iowa to discuss this option.
If you are facing financial hardship or having difficulty paying your mortgage, consider contacting a foreclosure attorney to discuss your options. An experienced attorney can help you explore alternatives like loan modification, short sales, or other debt management processes to prevent or halt foreclosure.
Henkels & Baker, PC: Your Iowa Foreclosure Attorneys
For personalized guidance and legal support in matters related to foreclosure, Henkels & Baker, PC, is your trusted partner. As a leading debt and bankruptcy law firm, we have a proven track record of assisting clients through foreclosure proceedings.
If you are facing foreclosure, exploring options, or have questions about the foreclosure process, our experienced attorneys are here to provide the support and legal counsel you need. Contact Henkels & Baker, PC, today to safeguard your property rights and financial future.
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