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Marion County Sheriff Sale: Understanding and Stopping the Sale

A Marion County sheriff sale can be a cause of great alarm.  If you do not want to lose your house in a sheriff sale, then you need to know some important information about how sheriff sales work.  We will discuss how Marion County Indiana sheriff sales work and how they can be stopped.

Understanding the Process of Sheriff Sales

In Marion County, Indiana, sheriff sales are conducted every month at the City-County building.   If your home goes through this sheriff sale, you will lose all rights to your property.  Essentially, you will no longer be the owner of the property: the bank or the new buyer will be the owner.  You could be ejected immediately from the property if you remain there after the sheriff sale.  Or, in some cases, the new owner may be forced to go through an eviction process to remove you from the property.  Therefore, it is very important to have a plan to prevent a sheriff sale from occurring if you want to retain your property.

These Indiana Marion County sheriff sales usually only are scheduled after a mortgage foreclosure judgment is obtained.   (Marion County sheriff sales could be scheduled outside a mortgage foreclosure situation but it is rare). You should receive notice of both the original foreclosure action and then the eventual scheduling of the sheriff sale.  Your notice of sheriff sale will likely come in folded thick paper that outlines the time and date that the sale will occur.  You will usually have approximately 45 days notice.

If you did not receive notice but suspect that your home is scheduled for sheriff sale, you can obtain a list of scheduled Marion County sheriff sales.  You can obtain this list through calling the Civil Office Real Estate Office by calling (317) 327-2450.  You can also obtain this list in person during weekly business hours by going to the City County building on Washington Street and going to room 1122 on the 11th floor.  This list can also be obtained by a small fee through the following site: http://www.indy.gov/egov/county/MCSD/services/realestate/pages/forms.aspx

Keep in mind that you should have already received notice of both the original mortgage foreclosure and the sheriff sale.  If you have the Marion County Civil court case number, you can also look up the information by going the Marion County Clerk’s Office or by using the My Case search system that is available at the following link: http://mycase.in.gov  Remember, that Indiana’s state court system is transitioning into an online search system.  Therefore, some information on certain cases may not be available.

Stopping the Sheriff Sale

Stopping a Marion County sheriff sale takes a very powerful operation of law.   Essentially, there are two mainstream ways of stopping a sheriff sale: 1) Convincing your mortgage lender to cancel the sale and 2) filing for bankruptcy.  Let’s discuss these two options.

Stopping the Sale by Convincing the Mortgage Lender

First, a very uncertain but potentially valuable way for cancelling a sheriff sale is to convince the  mortgage company to cancel it. If you can work out a loan modification or forbearance agreement, you may be able to convince the mortgage company to cancel the sale.  You could also seek a remedy at the state court level to cancel the sale, but this option is very limited and not likely to succeed.   This attempt to cancel a sheriff sale outside of bankruptcy is very limited and unpredictable.  Although it can be attempted if you desire to save your home, two things must be stressed.  First, if you are already at the sheriff sale stage, it may be too late.  You should have probably finished working something out with the mortgage company months ago before the sale date was set.   Second, you should probably have a bankruptcy back up plan if this first option does not work.

Stopping the Sale through Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy – whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 – is the most cost effective and powerful way usually of canceling a sheriff sale.  Bankruptcy also can help you take care of other burdensome debts.   At the moment a bankruptcy case is filed, all collection activity immediately is stopped.  This includes any scheduled sheriff sale.

In Chapter 7, the Marion County sheriff sale will be cancelled only temporarily.  You will usually have 3-5 more months (or more) to work something out with the lender such as a loan modification.   At the close of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all of your debt will be forgiven (except for a few exceptions).  Remember, however, that Chapter 7 has no mechanism for bringing the house up-to-date with the mortgage company.  After your Chapter 7, you would not have a built-in plan to get into good standings again with your mortgage company.  If you do nothing, eventually another sheriff sale will be set for your property.

In Chapter 13, the Indiana Marion County sheriff sale will be cancelled permanently if you desire.  This is because the Chapter 13 has a built-in mechanism for bringing you back into good standing with the mortgage company.  You can pay your normal mortgage payment and any arrears (portion you are behind on) through the Chapter 13 plan.  You will not have to bring your house back up to date in one lump sum.  Instead, through monthly payments, you pay your normal mortgage payment, your arrears, and any other debts trough the Chapter 13 plan.   If you enter Chapter 13, your sheriff sale will be permanently cancelled if you choose to reorganize the house situation through the plan.

Conclusion: Marion County Sheriff Sales Need Immediate Attention

If you are scheduled for a Marion County Sheriff sale, it is important that you seek a bankruptcy attorney immediately.  If you desire to keep the property, it is vitally important that you arrange your bankruptcy case to be filed BEFORE the sheriff sale occurs.  If you have receive a Marion County (or any other Indiana County) sheriff sale notice, contact our office immediately for a free consultation.