Foreclosure Timelines

All states require that you get at least some notice before your house is sold because of foreclosure. How much notice you will get depends primarily on whether your foreclosure will go through court (judicial foreclosure) or not (nonjudicial foreclosure). To find out whether yours will be a judicial foreclosure or nonjudicial foreclosure, read our article Will Your Foreclosure Take Place In or Out of Court?

Many people facing foreclosure are like the proverbial deer in the headlights: stunned and unable to react quickly. Don’t be one of them. These notice periods give you precious time to plan a strategy that is most advantageous to you.

Notice of Judicial Foreclosure

If your foreclosure is a judicial foreclosure (one that goes through court), you’ll be given some time (typically between 15 and 30 days) to respond to the court complaint that starts the foreclosure lawsuit. In some judicial foreclosure states, you’ll also get a little notice (called a notice of intent to begin foreclosure proceedings) before the complaint itself is filed. In some of these states, the court, after approving the foreclosure, will also order the lender to publish a notice of sale, which will give you even more time before you have to move.

Notice of Nonjudicial Foreclosure

If your foreclosure is a nonjudicial foreclosure (one that does not need to go through court), you will also get some notice before the foreclosure sale. Most states require between 20 and 30 days, but it can be as little as 15 days before the sale (in Georgia, for example) or as much as four months (in Oregon and Utah). In some states, including California, you get two notices: one giving you a period of time to make up the missed payments (called curing the default) and a second notice (called a notice of sale) giving you the date of the foreclosure sale in the event you haven’t caught up on your delinquent payments.

How You Will Receive Notice of Your Foreclosure

In many states, in addition to mailing you the required notice or notices by certified or first-class mail, the foreclosing entity must publish notices in the legal notices section of a local newspaper of general circulation or post notices on a courthouse door or other public place. Once a formal notice of foreclosure is published, posted on a courthouse door, recorded at the local land records office, or filed in court, the fact that you're in financial jeopardy becomes public knowledge. Con artists may try to prey on you, knowing that you're under financial stress. Don't fall for a foreclosure rescue scam! For more on recognizing and avoiding foreclosure scams, see our article Don't Get Scammed by a Foreclosure "Rescue" Company.

Special Protections for Active Service Members

If you or a family member is on active military duty, you have some extra protections, including the right to demand that a judge evaluate the merits of the foreclosure even if you live in a state where nonjudicial foreclosures are the norm. For more on these protections and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, see our article Special Protections for Service Members on Active Duty.

Extra Protections If You Have a High-Cost Mortgage

The states listed below have special rules for foreclosures involving a high-cost mortgage. Each state defines high-cost mortgages differently, but typically they are mortgages where interest and prepayment penalties are significantly higher than those charged for standard mortgages. Generally, these special rules require lenders to give you more notice before foreclosing. You may also be given a greater opportunity to reinstate your loan.

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • South Carolina

Excerpted from The Foreclosure Survival Guide, by Stephen Elias (Nolo).

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