The Mortgage Foreclosure Process: What to Expect

Foreclosure laws vary by state, but you can generally expect the mortgage foreclosure process to involve a written notice from your lender alerting you of acceleration of debt. You will the have anywhere between 300 and 750 days to repay the debt depending on where you live. It’s important to negotiate with your lender before the default notice arrives. Call the toll free number above to consult with a local real estate attorney today.

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Foreclosure Laws Differ Among States

Foreclosure laws vary from state to state. All states allow foreclosures by judicial sale, and some even require judicial foreclosures. These judicial foreclosure states necessitate court supervision for the property sale after the borrower defaults.

Many states allow the lender to foreclose without legal action. These statutory nonjudicial foreclosures are sometimes called foreclosure by advertisement, power by sale foreclosures, or trustee sales.

In either judicial or nonjudicial foreclosures, an official sells the property at an auction after the mortgagee meets the procedural requirements.

A limited number of states allow “strict foreclosures”. A court calculates the amount the borrower owes and gives the borrower a deadline to pay that amount. If the borrower does not pay by the deadline, the mortgagor gets the property without an auction.

Figure 1: Types of Foreclosure Procedures by State and Estimated Timeframe from First Missed Payment to Lender Receiving Title to Property

Alabama Power of Sale 300 Days
Alaska Trustee Sale 360 Days
Judicial w/ Redemption 750 Days
Arizona Trustee Sale 330 Days
Judicial 510 Days
Arkansas Power of Sale 360 Days
California Trustee Sale 360 Days
Judicial w/ Redemption 960 Days
Colorado Trustee Sale w/Redemption 405 Days
Connecticut Strict Foreclosure 420 Days
Power of Sale 480 Days
Delaware Judicial 450 Days
District of Columbia Trustee Sale 300 Days
Florida Judicial 450 Days
Georgia Power of Sale 300 Days
Hawaii Judicial 450 Days
Idaho Trustee Sale 420 Days
Judicial w/Redemption 600 Days
Illinois Judicial w/Redemption 510 Days
Judicial w/Redemption-Deficiency 540 Days
Judicial w/Redemption-Abandonment 450 Days
Indiana Judicial w/Redemption 480 Days
Iowa Non-Judicial 360 Days
Judicial w/o Deficiency 540 Days
Judicial w/o Deficiency (Non-Owner-Occupied) 420 Days
Judicial w/Deficiency 720 Days
Kansas Judicial w/Redemption 510 Days
Kentucky Judicial 420 Days
Louisiana Judicial 420 Days
Maine Judicial w/Redemption 570 Days
Maryland Trustee Sale w/Redemption 345 Days
Massachusetts Trustee Sale 450 Days
Michigan Power of Sale w/Redemption 510 Days
Power of Sale-Abandonment 360 Days
Minnesota Power of Sale/Redemption 510 Days
Judicial w/Deficiency 720 Days
Mississippi Trustee Sale 300 Days
Missouri Trustee Sale 300 Days
Montana Power of Sale 360 Days
Judicial w/Redemption 720 Days
Nebraska Trustee Sale 330 Days
Judicial 450 Days
Nevada Trustee Sale 360 Days
Judicial w/Redemption 720 Days
New Hampshire Power of Sale 300 Days
New Jersey Judicial w/o Deficiency 540 Days
Judicial w/Deficiency 720 Days
New Mexico Judicial w/Redemption 420 Days
New York Judicial 540 Days
North Carolina Trustee Sale 300 Days
North Dakota Judicial w/Redemption 420 Days
Ohio Judicial w/Confirmation 510 Days
Oklahoma Judicial 420 Days
Oregon Trustee Sale 390 Days
Pennsylvania Judicial 450 Days
Rhode Island Power of Sale 300 Days
South Carolina Judicial w/o Deficiency 390 Days
Judicial w/Deficiency 420 Days
South Dakota Judicial w/Redemption 540 Days
Tennessee Trustee Sale 300 Days
Texas Power of Sale 280 Days
Utah Trustee Sale 390 Days
Judicial w/Redemption 570 Days
Vermont Judicial w/Redemption 480 Days
Virginia Trustee Sale 300 Days
Washington Trustee Sale 390 Days
Judicial w/Deficiency 750 Days
West Virginia Trustee Sale 300 Days
Wisconsin Judicial w/o Deficiency 510 Days
Judicial w/Deficiency 690 Days
Wyoming Power of Sale w/Redemption 465 Days

Source of data:“MGIC FlexClaim Simplified State Time Frames”

Acceleration of the Mortgage Debt

Despite the differences among the processes, most foreclosures follow a basic outline. First, the lender must give you written notice of any defaults, and some time to cure them. This notice is a prerequisite to the next step, which is acceleration. Accelerating the debt is calling the note due and demanding payment of the entire balance. You pay your mortgage in installments. If the lender did not accelerate the debt, it would be difficult for the mortgage holder to recover more than any payments that were due by the foreclosure date. Acceleration permits the lender to declare the whole balance due and demand payment. Your note and mortgage will spell out the conditions under which the mortgagor can accelerate the debt and foreclose. The mortgagor must comply with those requirements.

Judicial Foreclosure or Power of Sale

After the lender gives notice and accelerates the debt, the lender will take the legal steps required to recover the property. The best time to try to work something out with the lender is when the notice of default arrives, or even before that occurs. That is why it is important to open and read all of the notices and letters the lender sends. If you ignore them, you miss out on an opportunity to avoid foreclosure.

If the lender is proceeding under a power of sale, the mortgage holder is usually required to post a notice, often at the property site, and advertise the sale. In a judicial foreclosure, the lender files a lawsuit and must serve the borrower with a summons and complaint. After the lender serves the complaint, the borrower has a time period in which to respond to the complaint, but with very limited available defenses. You cannot avoid foreclosure by explaining to the court why you were unable to make your payments. The only real defenses are that you really did pay, or that the debt is invalid. At this point, the matter is in the hands of an attorney, and you will need to contact the lawyer to work out a settlement.

Foreclosure Auction

In almost all types of foreclosures, the next step is to schedule the auction. The sheriff or court official usually conducts the auction. In most cases, the lender bids on the property and acquires title for itself. If the sale price is less than the mortgage balance, the difference is called a deficiency. The lender can sometimes get a judgment against the borrower for the deficiency, but rarely makes the attempt.

The Redemption Period

Some states have a redemption period during which the borrower can regain title to the property by paying the purchase price plus costs and interest to the person who acquired the property at the auction. In states with redemption rights, you have some additional time to try to reach a repayment arrangement with your lender.

When to Leave the Property

Generally, you can stay on the property until the court orders you to leave. This usually requires a separate lawsuit against the borrower. These cases are often filed in the same courts that handle evictions. While you can hold out until the sheriff comes to set you out, it’s a better idea to move sooner. The new owner of the property can usually recover court costs and attorney fees against you. In addition, you will have short notice to find a place to stay, and if the sheriff sets you out, you and your belongings will literally be in the street.

Always consider consulting a lawyer in a foreclosure situation.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption