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Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. v. Stull

378 N.J. Super. 449, 876 A.2d 298 (App. Div. 2005)

FORECLOSURES; ADJOURNMENTS—Under the Fair Foreclosure Act, neither a judge nor a sheriff has the discretion to refuse to adjourn an execution sale of foreclosed property when the adjournment has been requested by or with the consent of the judgment creditor.

A borrower defaulted on a home mortgage loan. The holder of the mortgage commenced a foreclosure action and obtained an uncontested judgment of foreclosure. A writ of execution was then issued and an execution sale was scheduled. The execution sale was postponed at the request of the judgment creditor after the parties entered into a forbearance agreement. The execution sale was then re-scheduled, but the judgment creditor once again requested that the sheriff adjourn the sale. The sheriff refused, and the judgment creditor applied for and obtained an adjournment from the Chancery Division. In granting the request, the lower court’s order provided that any further adjournment requests must be considered by the sheriff and that the Foreclosure Unit of the Superior Court was responsible for any further monitoring of the matter. The judgment creditor filed a motion for reconsideration. It was denied. The judgment creditor then appealed the ruling.

The Appellate Division reversed the lower court’s ruling. In reaching its decision, it evaluated the legislature’s intent in enacting the Fair Disclosure Act. The Court ruled that the clear intent behind the Act was to provide homeowners with every opportunity to pay their home mortgages and keep their homes. It further held that New Jersey’s public policy disfavors the rapid judicial sale of homes and that judgment creditors have an unfettered right to adjourn a sheriff’s sale to give the creditor an opportunity to work with the debtor to resolve its financial difficulties. As result the Court reasserted the rule set forth in Banker’s Trust Company of California, N.A. v. Delgado, 346 N.J. Super. 103 (App. Div. 2001), where the Court held that neither a judge nor a sheriff had the discretion to refuse to adjourn an execution sale of foreclosed property when the adjournment has been requested by or with the consent of the judgment creditor under the Fair Foreclosure Act.


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