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Indiana Has Three-Month Waiting Period Before Sheriff's Sales Can Be Triggered

Workout specialists from commercial lending institutions often ask me how quickly they can repossess their real estate loan collateral here in Indiana. One of my very first posts, back in November of 2006, generally addressed that question: Basic Foreclosure Process/Timing In Indiana. As I've mentioned before, to the chagrin of secured lenders, particularly when they're facing loans in default with no hope of a turnaround, mortgage foreclosures must be judicial or, in other words, through the court system. Foreclosures are lawsuits, with all the attendant delays and expense.

Three months post-complaint. Generally, real estate collateral must be sold, pursuant to a judge's decree (a judgment), by the county civil sheriff. Before triggering the post-judgment sale process, lenders and their counsel should remain mindful that Indiana has a statutory three-month waiting period that must first expire. Ind. Code 32-29-7-3(a) states:

In a proceeding for the foreclosure of a mortgage executed on real estate, process may not issue for the execution of a judgment or decree of sale for a period of three (3) months after the filing of a complaint in the proceeding.

As noted, the period starts with the filing of the complaint.

Rare. My experience has been that this rule will be a non-issue in the vast majority of cases. As a practical matter, this grace period should only come into play in situations involving motions for default judgment, which I normally don't recommend in commercial foreclosure cases anyway.

Exception. There is an exception to the three-month rule in I.C. 32-29-7-3(a). Subsection (2) says:

if the court or an enforcement authority ... finds that the mortgaged real estate is residential real estate and has been abandoned, a judgment or decree of sale may be executed on the date the judgment of foreclosure or decree of sale is entered, regardless of the date the mortgage is executed.

As noted, this exception does not apply to commercial properties. For residential/consumer cases involving vacant/abandoned houses, you and your counsel should ensure the court includes these factual findings in your foreclosure decree so as to avoid the grace period.

Even though this three-month requirement will rarely be an obstacle in a commercial foreclosure, it's still important to know that it exists as you and your counsel consider how long it may be before there will be a sheriff's sale.

NOTE: I.C. 32-29-7-3 was amended in 2012. See my March 23, 2012 post.