Learn everything you can because this will affect you in every which way. It’s something that should not be taken lightly.
Palm Coast, FL – January 13, 2011 – The foreclosure process varies in every state and it's imperative that homeowners understand this process. One thing is for sure, time is NOT on your side. But, an educated consumer is always an informed consumer who can make a "good" decision based on facts. Learn everything you can because this will affect you in every which way and it is something that should not be taken lightly.
The first thing you will need to do is understand the foreclosure timeline.
Day 1 – Borrower misses first payment by a day. No penalties assessed at this time
Day 16-30 – A late charge is assessed to the borrower’s payment.
The lender or mortgage servicer will attempt to make contact with the borrower for an explanation.
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Mortgage notes usually carry a grace period, 15 days is typical but some are as short as 10 days. Many people "play the float" that is, delay through most of the grace period before making payment, and no one, including the lender thinks very much about it.
On day 16, however, a late fee is assessed. At this point there are no ramifications beyond that late fee and maybe a "friendly reminder" call from the lender's customer service department. The late payment probably won't even show up on the borrower's credit report. On Day 30 that changes. At that point the borrower is in default and things quickly turn serious and the foreclosure process speeds up.
Starting on day 16, additional debt is incurred in the form of the mortgage late fee – usually a percentage of the principal balance; three percent is typical which, on a $300,000 mortgage is plus or minus a $100 penalty and, if the next payment and the next are also missed, the cost of bringing the mortgage current grows pretty fast.
Past day 30, some lenders will allow a borrower to make a partial payment of the past due amount; others will insist that everything be brought current; lenders may even return a check if it does not cover both the current and the past due payments and maybe the late charges as well.
Day 45-60 – The servicer sends "demand" or "breach" letter to the borrower stating the mortgage terms that have been.
The borrower is given only 30 days to resolve the delinquent amount.
By day 45 the phone calls from the mortgage collectors will be coming pretty regularly. Most states have rules regarding collection activities and telephone calls including their frequency during this phase of the foreclosure process, content (no threats are permitted), and timing (early morning and late night calls are generally off limits,) but the calls, within legal boundaries, will be unremitting and the tone can vary from "gee, we just want to help" to aggressively demanding.
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During these few months of the foreclosure process, the servicer will offer the borrower two primary options to cure the mortgage — a repayment plan and a loan modification. With a repayment plan, the company agrees to tack, say, half the amount of the first missed payment onto each of the next subsequent two payments. These plans provide some breathing room for borrowers with short-term financial problems, such as expensive car repairs that make it too difficult to pay the mortgage for one month.
Day 90-105 –The servicer refers the loan to its loss mitigation department / foreclosure department and retains an attorney or other firm to handle the foreclosure proceedings. Depending on the state where the home is located, the servicer's representative may record a notice of default at the local courthouse and it will be published in the local newspaper.
About 60 to 90 days after the initial missed payment the lender will send a notice of default, usually by Certified Mail, giving the borrower a finite period in which to cure the situation by paying all past due amounts, and by now collection costs are probably being added to the late fees. Once that remedial period passes, the collection department will refer the loan to the lender's legal department which will, after another period of time, send the documents to a local attorney to begin foreclosure proceedings. By this time serious legal fees are accruing.
The foreclosure process continues.
In a more serious case, the customer may have already missed two or three payments and owes a couple thousand dollars in lender legal fees. The servicer will still try to arrange a repayment schedule. But the borrower will likely have to pay a third to a half of the delinquent amount upfront, and then pay off a portion of the remaining balance each month for a year or more.
"In a repayment plan, the borrower agrees to do a payment and a half, a payment and a
quarter, etc., for whatever number of months is needed to make that loan current," says Fannie Mae's Smith.
Loan modifications go a step further and they're designed for customers that can't afford repayment plans. In a modification, the servicer actually halts the forelcosure process and adjusts the terms of the loan to make it affordable. It may lengthen the amortization schedule or lower the interest rate to cut the monthly payments, or roll the past due amount into the loan and re-amortize the new balance so the borrower can pay the additional debt back over time.
If the customer has a more serious financial problem, such as a longer-term job loss followed by rehire at another company that pays much less, alternatives still exist. The servicer may agree to help the borrower get rid of the house via a pre-foreclosure sale. In more dire circumstances, the servicer will agree to a "short sale." In such sales, the lender lets the borrower sell the house for less than the outstanding loan amount, takes the proceeds and forgives any remaining overage. Banks are willing to do so because they often lose less on these deals than they do in foreclosures.
Day 150-415 – A notice of trustee Sale is filed and the home is scheduled to be soldat foreclosure sale or auction. This time range varies due to individual state laws and requirements.
States with judicial foreclosures, where foreclosures are done via the court system, can sometimes extend this period to a year or more.
A foreclosure is a legal event and there are benchmarks that must be met. Once the case is turned over to attorneys, the impending foreclosure must be advertised, usually in both the local papers and in the largest and closest metropolitan daily. The entire process can take a very long time from initial default to the actual public auction of the property. If a member of the military is an owner of the property, there are additional safeguards required by federal and in some cases state laws From the beginning of the process, however, the meter is running. The longer the foreclosure takes, the greater the debt that accrues and the larger the liability the homeowner has, something that will become critical down the road.
The law in most states gives the homeowner every opportunity to stop the process leading to foreclosure, right up to the minute that the auctioneer's gavel comes down and sometimes even beyond. In some states there is a period after the foreclosure during which the homeowner can redeem the property (right of redemption.).
Redemption Rights: The rights of redemption, as specified in Internal Revenue Code Section 6337, are quoted as follows:
Sec. 6337. Redemption of Property. (a) Before Sale. – Any person whose property has been levied upon shall have the right to pay the amount due, together with the expenses of the proceeding, if any, to the Secretary at any time prior to the sale thereof, and upon such payment the Secretary shall restore such property to him, and all further proceedings in connection with the levy on such property shall cease from the time of such payment.
(b) Redemption of Real Estate After Sale.
Period. – The owners of any real property sold as provided in Section 6335, their heirs, executors, or administrators, or any person having any interest therein, or a lien thereon, or any person in their behalf, shall be permitted to redeem the property sold, or any particular tract of such property at any time within 180 days after the sale thereof. (2) Price. – Such property or tract of property shall be permitted to be redeemed upon payment to the purchaser, or in case he cannot be found in the county in which the property to be redeemed is situated, then to the Secretary, for the use of the purchaser, his heirs, or assigns, the amount paid by such purchaser and interest thereon at the rate of 20 percent per annum.
It is important to know this because less than ethical lenders and servicing companies will tell borrowers that, once default has occurred, the acceleration clause of the mortgage is invoked and the entire mortgage balance is due and payable – in other words, if a borrower misses his $1,200 payment for several months and now owes $3,600 plus late fees and legal expenses, he must come up with the entire $150,000 mortgage balance in order to stop the foreclosure. This may be technically true but it is rarely invoked in practice.
Nonjudicial foreclosure states can foreclose in as little as two months.
Day 150-415 – Some states offer what is called a redemption period after the foreclosure sale in order to give the borrower time to purchase the property if they have the ability. However, most will be forced out of their home by the local sheriff’s department.
The actual foreclosure auction might be conducted in the front yard of the subject property or "by public outcry" on the front steps of the county courthouse. Either way it is pretty frightening for the homeowner involved. There are lots of ways, however, to put a halt to the process and to save one's home. We will explore this at another time.
Foreclosure Process Overview
What is Foreclosure?
Foreclosure is a process that allows a lender to recover the amount owed on a defaulted loan by selling or taking ownership (repossession) of the property securing the loan. The foreclosure process begins when a borrower/owner defaults on loan payments (usually mortgage payments) and the lender files a public default notice, called a Notice of Default or Lis Pendens. The foreclosure process can end one of four ways:
- The borrower/owner reinstates the loan by paying off the default amount to during a grace period determined by state law. This grace period is also known as pre-foreclosure.
- The borrower/owner sells the property to a third party during the pre-foreclosure period. The sale allows the borrower/owner to pay off the loan and avoid having a foreclosure on his or her credit history.
- A third party buys the property at a public auction at the end of the pre-foreclosure period.
- The lender takes ownership of the property, usually with the intent to re-sell it on the open market. The lender can take ownership either through an agreement with the borrower/owner during pre-foreclosure or by buying back the property at the public auction. These are also known as bank-owned or REO properties (Real Estate Owned by the lender).
Following the same logic, customers should try to negotiate the best deal they can get without feeling guilty. Someone whose property has fallen in value below the mortgage amount because of a neighborhood decline, for example, should consider pushing for a short sale or short refinance rather than a repayment plan. That way, the borrower doesn't pay more money than necessary. Nevertheless, the best way for consumers to get out of foreclosure without racking up extensive legal bills and ruining their credit histories is to start working on a solution before their problems get out of hand.
"In no case should people take the step that is most often taken in this situation," Brenner says. "That is to stick your head in the sand and ignore it."