The Foreclosure Process Step by Step

If you are behind on your mortgage payments by more than a few months, you may soon be going through the foreclosure process. Knowing that the bank is considering taking your house and putting you out of it is extremely stressful, and negotiating a settlement that allows you to keep your home can be difficult because most people don’t know how the process works and what they need to do to be pro-active. 

Your best bet is to consult an attorney for foreclosure help. The earlier you speak with an attorney who understands foreclosure laws, the more likely you will, with the help of your lawyer, be able to stall the foreclosure and get your life back on track. If you aren’t sure what to expect and a foreclosure is looming, keep in mind that banks follow a very specific protocol with most foreclosures. Knowing what to expect may make it easier for you. An attorney can explain the foreclosure laws in clear, precise terms. 

First, most banks will wait until you are at least three months behind before they contact you or start the foreclosure process. They may send you letters during this time demanding payment. At some point, they may even call you. Talk to them! Explain your financial situation. Perhaps you’ve lost a job or there was a major illness in the family. You may get some understanding from the lender’s representative that will help you down the road. Have your attorney talk to the lender as well; he may be able to negotiate a reduced payment plan of some kind, such as a loan modification.

If you don’t respond to any letters or can’t reach an agreement, the lender will file a Notice of Default at the courthouse. You will receive a copy of this document, which is essentially a notice that you are facing foreclosure. Your attorney can give you foreclosure help at this point by negotiating with the lender and trying to determine if there are any potential problems on the lender’s side which could buy you some more time. Examples include improperly filed notices, non-disclosure in the mortgage document itself, or mishandling of the mortgage. This part of the foreclosure process is best handled by professionals who are familiar with foreclosure laws and who can apply them appropriately.

If the default amount isn’t paid to bring your mortgage current, a foreclosure sale will be scheduled. You’ll receive a Notice of Sale telling you when your home is to be auctioned off. Notices will also be posted on your property and published in the local newspapers for about three weeks. The Sale usually takes place at the county courthouse. This is often the most painful part of the foreclosure process. Watching strangers bid on your home on the steps of the courthouse is difficult to watch, and the house may sell for less than its value to some lucky person.

If you love your house and don’t want it auctioned off during the foreclosure process, get foreclosure help from an attorney before you get a Notice of Sale or Notice of Default. The earlier you bring an attorney on board, the more likely he will be able to use resources such as a loan modification, short sale, or Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure to salvage the situation. If you want to protect your family from the foreclosure process, talk to a lawyer before you’ve fallen more than a few months on your payments.