The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based law firm Duane Morris LLP has recently published a post about the recent New Jersey court case where a homeowner who had defaulted on his house payments on a $520,000 mortgage had the outstanding balance of his mortgage wiped out where the lender apparently "fell asleep" for six years without bringing a foreclosure action, and whose statute of limitations "alarm clock" apparently didn't awaken it from its slumber until after the applicable limitations period had expired, leaving it time-barred from initiating a lawsuit.
For the post, see Bankruptcy Court Finds Debtor Entitled To A "Free House" Because Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint Barred By New Jersey Statute Of Limitations
For the court ruling, see In re Washington
, 2014 Bankr. LEXIS 4649 (Bankr. D.N.J. Nov. 5, 2014).
Not unlike some others, I found myself confronted with the temptation of employing "rhetorical flourish
" and using the term "free house
" to describe the homeowner's windfall in the headline for this piece, as well as in my original post on this story (see Expiring Statute Of Limitations Leaves New Jersey Homeowner With Free & Clear Home While Foreclosing Lender Left Holding The Bag
While I don't feel that it's such a horrible thing to"keep the facts from getting in the way of a good headline
" every once in a while, I resisted on this post because, according to the facts of the case - see The acquisition of the property
- The homeowner did, in fact, put a $130,000 down payment (20% down) on a $650,000 purchase price - not exactly "chump change" (presumably, there were thousands of dollars in additional out-of-pocket expenses paid for closing costs as well),
- The homeowner did, in fact, make three mortgage payments on a $520,000 loan (not to mention any escrow cash for real estate taxes & insurance) before defaulting,
- The homeowner purchased his home on February 27, 2007 (which, for students of 21st century history of the U.S. real estate market, was right around the time when the market was at its absolute peak, if it hadn't already begun to stall, crash, and burn); presumably the value of the subject home in this case began to tank shortly after purchase, and probably has yet to fully recover.
While the homeowner scored a great win in this case, the home certainly did not turn out to be as "free" as I first thought it might be.