Understanding The Foreclosure Process

Understanding The Foreclosure Process

When a homeowner fails to make mortgage payments to the lender, a sequence of events is initiated which eventually leads up to either the lender taking possession of the property or the property is acquired by a new owner or investor.

Although each state has laws dictating how the foreclosure process will take place in that state, all foreclosures follow pretty much the same phases:

Phase One – Missed Payments

Most states require that the homeowner be a minimum of 90 days behind on mortgage payments before the lender can start the foreclosure process.  The lender will normally request occupancy inspections during this phase to determine whether the homeowner is occupying the property.

Phase Two – Pre-Foreclosure

  • When mortgage payments are at least 90 days in arrears, the lender can record a public notice of default on the mortgage and mails the notice to the homeowner.  Once the public notice has been recorded and the homeowner notified of the recording the Pre-Foreclosure Phase is in effect.
  • The Pre-Foreclosure phase is a grace period of three calendar months that gives the homeowner the opportunity to “cure” the default by selling the property, paying the mortgage or making other arrangements with the lender.

Phase Three – Auction

If the default has not been cured during the three calendar month phase of Pre-Foreclosure, the lender or the lender’s representative records, at the County Court House, a date of sale at a Trustee Sale auction.  A notice of the auction is delivered to the homeowner, published in a local newspaper and, in some states, posted on the front door of the property.

Phase Four – Post-Foreclosure

If the property is not purchased by a new owner or investor at the Trustee Sale – the foreclosure auction – the lender takes ownership of the property.  The property is now known as “Real Estate Owned”, REO.