Mortgage Foreclosure Timeline

Mortgage Foreclosure Timeline
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Last updated: December 2014

When you buy a house, you sign a mortgage and a note. A mortgage is a written agreement between a mortgage company or bank and a home buyer.The not is a promise to pay back the money the bank loaned you. If you do not pay your mortgage, the bank can try to take your home. The bank can also try to collect what you owe. This process is a mortgage foreclosure.

This timeline is only a general guide for a homeowner who chooses not to fight the foreclosure case. 

Before the bank can sue you for mortgage foreclosure, they must see if you qualify for a loan modification under the federal government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). To qualify for HAMP, both you and the bank must be eligible.

0-4 Months

  • After 2 missed mortgage payments, the bank must give you 30 days to catch up. During this time, you should speak to a housing counselor. If the bank learns that you spoke with a counselor, you have have 30 more days to catch up.
  • 120 days after your first missed payment, foreclosure action may begin. This is the lawsuit brought by the bank to end your mortgage and take away your home.
  • The Sheriff or process server will serve you the foreclosure complaint. "Service" is the term for delivering legal papers to the opposing party in a case. If the Sheriff cannot find you, they can post a notice in a local newspaper.  You will have 30 days to respond.

4-6 Months

  • You have 90 days after you receive the foreclosure complaint to reinstate your mortgage. This right of reinstatement means that you can make all of your missed payments, plus all costs and fees. If you can do this, the foreclosure case against you is over. You may not be able to reinstate your mortgage again for 5 years.
  • You will receive a motion and a notice of motion.
    • The notice is a written announcement or warning, telling you when the court date is. You should go to court on that date. (See below).
    • The motion is what the bank is asking the court to do. If you have not filed an answer with court, you will get a Motion for Default.  If you have filed an answer, you will get a Motion for Summary Judgment. 

6-8 Months

  • At court you may ask the judge for more time to hire a lawyer or complete the forms you need to represent yourself and answer the bank's complaint.
  • The judge may hear the bank's motion for default or summary judgment.
  • If the judge agrees, the bank must show the court:
    • A history of your mortgage payments
    • Proof that the bank gave you options to save your home
    • The status of any pending loan modification application
  • If you lose the hearing, the judge will sign a judgment of foreclosure against you. The judgment may state that:
    • You did not pay your mortgage;
    • The bank has a right to foreclose; and
    • The total amount you owe on the mortgage, including any costs and fees.
  • Once the judge signs a judgment of foreclosure, your redemption period begins. This period gives you time to pay off the mortgage, court costs, attorney fees and taxes.

Your redemption period ends:

  • 7 months after you are given the foreclosure complaint, if you are living in the home;
  • 6 months after you are given the foreclosure complaint, if you are not living in the home; or
  • 3 months after you get the judgment of foreclosure, whichever is later.

8 to 10 Months

Before the foreclosure sale of your property takes place, the bank must:

  • Publish a notice of sale in a local newspaper. The notice must be in the real estate section and should appear at least 3 weeks in a row.
  • Check if you qualify for a loan modification under the federal government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). If they do not, a foreclosure sale may not be valid.

8-11 Months

A judge will usually confirm a foreclosure sale unless you can prove one of the following:

  • Notice was not given in the right way
  • The terms of sale were unreasonable
  • The sale was conducted fraudulently (in a dishonest way)
  • Justice was not done
  • The lender violated HAMP requirements

10-12 Months

The home is sold. The sale is confirmed. You no longer have the right to stay in your home and the bank can ask the court to have the sheriff remove you from the property, if you do not do so by yourself.

If the bank sold the house for less than you owe, you might have to pay the difference.

After You Have Left the Property

The foreclosure deed, a written document of foreclosure, becomes public record.

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