In an unpublished opinion released on February 6, 2017, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division upheld a lower court judgment of $323,305.05 entered against homeowners Kevin and Adele Fister in favor of Valley National Bank. Based on a review of Court Records, the foreclosure was uncontested by the Fisters, and they represented themselves during the subsequent deficiency action.
A deficiency judgment may be sought by a lender after a foreclosure if the selling price at sheriff sale is less than the total amount owed. There are several limitations to a lender’s ability to seek a deficiency judgment, including a short statute of limitations and a requirement for a fair market value credit against the judgment. In this case Valley National Bank foreclosed, obtained a $618,852.50 judgment, purchased the Fister’s home for $100 at sheriff sale, and then sued the Fisters for the difference between the Judgment and the fair market value of their home (assessed by the bank at $335,000).
The Appellate Division upheld the lower court’s judgment because, among other reasons, the Fisters failed to present an expert witness to testify in opposition to Valley National Bank’s appraiser’s assessment of the fair market value of their home.