How Much Notice Before Your Property is Sold at a Sheriff Sale in PA?

Few things are more stressful than getting a notice that your property is going to be sold at a sheriff’s sale. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of how much time they have before the sale.

Fortunately, in Pennsylvania, you must be given time to address the situation before the sheriff’s sale. In some cases, this can be as short as a month. For this reason and many others, you need a legal team that understands the complexities inherent in these cases. We can help you form strategies to keep your property or arrange another agreement that satisfies your debts. Our firm will act as a barrier between you and your lenders, negotiating on your behalf and fighting to protect your rights.

For a free case evaluation with our Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyers, contact Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 701-6519.

How Much Notice Am I Entitled to Before My Property is Sold at a Pennsylvania Sheriff’s Sale?

Sheriff’s sales in Pennsylvania are public auctions where properties subject to foreclosure or tax delinquency are sold. These sales serve as mechanisms for creditors to recover debts through the seizure and sale of a debtor’s property. However, you are entitled to be notified before your property is sold off. Our Pennsylvania property attorneys can help you determine how long you have before the sale and how to contest it. The following are the notice requirements that must be followed in a Pennsylvania sheriff’s sale:

Act 91 Notice

First, lenders are obligated to send an “Act 91” notice to the property owners at least 30 days before initiating a foreclosure action. This notice serves as an alert to the owners regarding the impending foreclosure and must provide them with relevant information about available assistance programs that can help them avoid foreclosure.

Notice of Sale

231 Pa. Code § 3129.2 stipulates that the notice must be given through a combination of handbills, written notice to all interested parties, and publication in a newspaper of general circulation and a legal publication, if available.

The timing and specifics of the notice may vary depending on local rules, but generally, notices must be posted and published several weeks in advance of the sale. This ensures that interested parties are aware of the sale and have ample time to prepare for it.

Time Frame for the Sale

Most importantly, property can be sold at a sheriff’s sale within a wide timeframe. However, this period typically begins 30 days after the judgment date but can last up to 5 years. This means that the property owner might have up to 5 years to pay off any outstanding debts or obligations before the sale takes place.

Distribution of Proceeds

After the property has been sold, the sheriff’s office is required to prepare a schedule of the proposed distribution of the proceeds within 30 days. This schedule usually outlines how the proceeds from the sale will be distributed among the parties involved in the case, including any outstanding debts or liens to be settled.

What Property Can Be Sold at a Sheriff’s Sale in Pennsylvania?

Unfortunately, the debtor’s personal and real property can be auctioned at a sheriff’s sale in Pennsylvania. However, some types of property are more in jeopardy of being sold than others. The following will help you understand what property could be in danger of being sold off if you receive a notice for a sheriff’s sale following foreclosure:

Real Estate Properties

One of the most common types of property sold at sheriff’s sales in Pennsylvania is real estate. This category typically includes residential homes, commercial buildings, and vacant land. The sale of real estate properties typically follows a judicial mortgage foreclosure process, initiated by creditors such as banks or financial institutions when your mortgage goes unpaid.

This means that the bank or creditor filed suit against you and the sale was ordered by a judge. Keep in mind that this decision can be made by the court if you are absent from the hearing to address the foreclosure.

Tax-Delinquent Properties

Properties with unpaid taxes also frequently appear at sheriff’s sales, offering municipalities a path to recover unpaid property taxes. These sales are particularly important for local governments as they serve as a source of funding for public services. Properties sold for this reason range from residential homes to commercial establishments and undeveloped land.

Personal Property

Sheriff’s sales can extend beyond real estate to include personal property as well. Personal property can include a wide range of tangible assets, like vehicles, electronic devices, machinery, jewelry, furniture, and other valuable items. These sales will then be used to satisfy your outstanding debts or judgments against you. Unfortunately, this process provides ample opportunity for interested buyers to acquire your assets at a discount.

Business Assets

In cases involving business bankruptcies or judgments against businesses, assets of the business may be sold at a sheriff’s sale. These assets can include office furniture, inventory, company vehicles, and even intellectual property. The sale of business assets typically serves as a means to repay creditors or satisfy judgments awarded in civil litigation.

Unique and Miscellaneous Properties

Sheriff’s sales may occasionally feature unique or miscellaneous properties that do not neatly fit into the categories mentioned above. This can include items like boats, artwork, and collectibles. The inclusion of such items highlights the diversity of assets that can be liquidated through the sheriff’s sale process.

Can I Contest a Sheriff’s Sale in Pennsylvania?

Those facing the loss of their property through a sheriff’s sale could have several potential avenues to contest the sale or, at least, mitigate its consequences. For instance, filing for bankruptcy is one of the most immediate methods to halt a sheriff’s sale.

Bankruptcy can stop a sheriff’s sale entirely if filed before the sale occurs, providing that the debtor cannot pay off the debt or negotiate other arrangements. If you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the automatic stay it provides should halt all collection activities, including foreclosure and sheriff’s sales.

A short sale is another strategy for homeowners seeking to avoid the worst repercussions of a sheriff’s sale. In a short sale, the homeowner sells the property for less than the amount owed on the mortgage with the lender’s approval. While not directly contesting the sheriff’s sale, a short sale can be a proactive approach to satisfy the debt for less than the full amount.

The advantage of a short sale is its potential to limit the financial damage to your credit score compared to the impact of a foreclosure. Moreover, it provides a measure of control over the process, allowing you to be actively involved in the sale of your property.

Our Pennsylvania Property Lawyers Can Provide the Guidance You Need Before Your Sheriff’s Sale Occurs

Our Philadelphia bankruptcy attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane can provide a free case review when you call us at (215) 701-6519.

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