Help. My self and heirs to a property had been notified of pending foreclosure. Real estate property and structure. The structure(house) has since burned down. Now we have received a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal. What does this mean? Can we legally sell the property? Can they come after proceeds from the property?
The Notice of Voluntary Dismissal means that whoever initiated the foreclosure has dismissed the foreclosure proceedings, but can always resume a new action, assuming it was dismissed without prejudice as I suspect. As for the sale of the property, the foreclosure did not prevent you from selling the property. The foreclosure allowed the lienholder to foreclose to obtain title to the property based on their holding of a lien, likely a foreclosure although you have not indicated the source of the foreclosure (tax lien, mortgage, etc.). Even if you sell the property now, the lien is not going away and it will be sold subject to whatever liens are attached to it. The only question becomes who will be responsible for paying the creditor/lienholder . . . and that depends on how the deed is structured (general warranty deed where you agree that there are no encumbrances on the property and will defend the title; or non-warranty/quitclaim deed where you are transferring your property interests with no guarantee of condition of the title, including any encumbrances). Even without the foreclosure, unless a quitclaim deed is used, the lienholders and judgment creditors can expect payment from the proceeds based on the priority of their respective liens.
So, in short, you can sell the property, but the liens attached to them will remain attached. You should consult with an experienced real estate attorney and engage them for a title search to see just what is attached to this property to try to ascertain any amounts owed against the value of the property.
I agree with Attorney Reaves' answer. If the voluntary dismissal is "without prejudice," the initial action can be refiled within a year (or longer if the applicable statute of limitations is longer than a year), whereas "with prejudice" means that it cannot be refiled. The key thing to keep in mind here, as Attorney Reaves pointed out already, is that if you sell the property before the lien is extinguished, the sale takes place subject to the lien, which might affect the desirability of the property on the part of prospective purchasers; it also is an issue of marketability of title. But with these caveats in mind, yes, you can sell the property in the meantime. Consult with a local real property lawyer for any specific advice about the foreclosure proceedings, the lien, or the terms of a potential sale. Use Avvo's "Find a Lawyer" feature if needed.
You need to talk with a real estate attorney who can determine all the relevant facts of your case. In real estate sometimes knowing an answer can lead to new questions.
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