A common question we get from clients and out-of-state counsel is: when will the sheriff’s sale be? The answer depends upon a couple key variables: (1) the date the court enters the judgment and (2) the particular rules and customs of the local sheriff’s office.
Since Indiana is a judicial foreclosure state, there cannot be a foreclosure sale until after the court enters a judgment and decree. A plaintiff lender cannot praecipe for a sale until that occurs. From that point, depending upon how quickly the praecipe is filed, on average the sale will occur in 2 to 3 months.
The post-judgment delay initially arises out of basic administrative issues surrounding the handling and processing by the clerk’s and sheriff’s offices of paperwork. But the critical matter is the thirty-day statutory publishing/notice requirement. Ind. Code 32-29-7-3(d) says:
Before selling mortgaged property, the sheriff must advertise the sale by publication once each week for three (3) successive weeks in a daily or weekly newspaper of general circulation. The sheriff shall publish the advertisement in at least one (1) newspaper published and circulated in each county where the real estate is situated. The first publication shall be made at least thirty (30) days before the date of sale.
Marion County Example
The Marion County Civil Sheriff’s Office recently circulated the sale cut-off date list for 2018. Here it is. The noted “clerk’s cut-off” date is the deadline to praecipe for the sale in order to be slotted for the next sale date. Marion County, as with most if not all Indiana counties, have sheriff’s sales monthly, usually on a set day. For example, Marion County sales happen on the third Wednesday of the month.
Using the 2018 cut-off date list, here are a couple illustrations for the April 18, 2018 sale date. If judgment were entered on March 7th and if you were able to praecipe for sale the same day, the sale would be April 18th – 70 days. If, however, judgment were entered one day later, March 8th, then the sale would not be until May 16th – 98 days. Averaging those two figures results in 84 days. In most counties other than Marion, I would expect the post-judgment “time to sale” average to be slightly less.
So, the 2-3 month rule of thumb essentially stems from the notice requirement and the time to process all the paperwork. Many counties have far few sales than Indianapolis, which holds hundreds each month. Some counties have less stringent deadlines and may be able to hold a sale within forty-five days of the judgment date.