Foreclosure Timeline – How Long Does it Take?

foreclosure gavilThe most important issue in the entire foreclosure process is that of how long it will take from the first payment being missed to the eviction of the homeowners. It is also an issue that most foreclosure victims have no idea about, and spend more time worrying about than any other aspect. Without knowing if or when the process has started, when the sheriff sale will be conducted, and how long they have after the auction until they are removed from the property, homeowners feel they have little control over the situation. Having a firm idea of the time frame of the foreclosure process, though, will allow them to put together reasonable plans to stop it with the time they have available.

The timeline of the foreclosure process will depend almost entirely on the state laws, so homeowners in danger of missing more than one mortgage payment should look those up as soon as possible. Various time lines are determined by the state, including notices that must be posted or mailed, redemption periods after the sale, and the scheduling and confirmation of the sheriff sale. Even procedures for postponing a sheriff sale are determined by the state laws. All of these aspects will be taken into account for the actual time that foreclosure victims have available to save their homes.

However, in general, the mortgage company will start the foreclosure process about 3-6 months after the first missed mortgage payment. Even though they can start it after the loan is technically in default (after 30 days late), lenders understand that many homeowners face short-term financial hardships and will be able to get back on track quickly. If the homeowners are keeping in contact with the bank, working out a repayment plan or trying to sell, they may postpone the actual foreclosure filing for a number of months, depending on the success of the homeowners. The mortgage company will want to give their clients some extra time to pay the loan back if the lines of communication are open. Of course, if the homeowners do not call the bank and ignore the phone when the lender calls to find out why they are not making the payments, then the foreclosure will begin much earlier.

Generally, a few weeks to a few months after the foreclosure is filed, the sheriff sale will be conducted at the county courthouse. Again, homeowners can get this postponed for a while, if they are working on a solution to save the home. Keeping in contact with the bank, letting them know how the process is going, and asking for more time if it is needed are all actions that foreclosure victims can take to prevent losing the home at a hastily scheduled foreclosure auction. The homeowners will have to put something in writing to the bank to show what they are working on, but postponing a sheriff sale can be quite simple. All it takes is communicating with the bank and working on a solution to the problem.

Now, after the sheriff sale, there are two possibilities, depending on the state foreclosure laws. First, the eviction process may begin right away. If this is the case, it can be another 2 weeks to a month or so between the sale date and the eviction date. The bank will have to ask the court for possession, the court will have to confirm the sale and order the county sheriff to evict the former homeowners and change the locks. But this is not a one-day process, with the sheriff kicking out the homeowners a few hours after the auction. Homeowners will still have a small amount of time to plan their future, find a new place to live after foreclosure, and move items out of the house.

The second possibility is if the state law allows for a redemption period, which is extra time after the sale that homeowners can work to keep their homes. During the redemption, they can try refinancing, selling, or paying the loan in full some other way, and keep the home in their names. After the end of redemption, though, the eviction process will start and it will be a few weeks after that that the sheriff shows up to remove everyone. But, if homeowners are unaware of the extra time they are given by state law, they may move out of the house before they have to. Redemption periods can be used by homeowners to begin a savings plan, pay off other debts to improve their credit, or begin to recover financially in other ways.

Without having the relevant information to understand how long the foreclosure process will take, many homeowners make mistakes that could otherwise be avoided. They may believe they have to move out before it is necessary, crippling their ability to start repairing their financial lives. Or, they may think that they have a lot of time left because of faulty assumptions about when the bank will start the foreclosure process, which can leave them staring at a sheriff sale before they even know it has been scheduled. Knowing how long foreclosure takes, and understanding that it is conducted differently in each state, is some of the most important advice that homeowners can receive, and will allow them the greatest chances to save their homes.

By Nick Adama

14 thoughts on “Foreclosure Timeline – How Long Does it Take?”

  1. Great information on the home foreclosure process, while they can be dishearting, foreclosures are a reality for many today, and even more everyday. Once you have been notified of a foreclosure, you still have time to attempt to prevent it. Do not give up, talk to the lender, and try to work something out.

    Thanks for the information

  2. The timeline is critical in a foreclosure case. Importantly, it varies from state to state, by type of property and by nature (principal residence/investment) of property. This is why it is not only critical to contact your lender, but also to contact a local professional who can explain the timeline and help you see your options clearly.

  3. We are in the process of filing for bankruptcy and i was wondering how long it will take from the first foreclosure letter to the time of eviction. In the interim, if we were able to come up with the money, at the end of the buy-out, would we have an option to buy?

    Thank you – sincerely,


  4. Understanding the timeline of a foreclosure is extremely important. If you plan on investing in a foreclosed home you need to know what your turnaround is going to be. If its going to be too long for you, maybe you so look at other investments.

  5. Great info. In Florida you receive a Lis Pendens notice that is recorded in the public records. The next step is a summary Judgment that sets a sale date 20 to 35 days in the future. After the sale date the purchaser can receive the Certificate of Title in 10 days after the sale.

    A foreclosure is such a horrible outcome. There are many options to avoid foreclosure and homeowners need to contact a professional for help. The Certified Distressed Property Expert program has trained over 11,000 real estate professionals to help homeowners. Check out their website at to get great information or to find a professional in your area.

  6. i am in bankruptcy and am letting the house go. i have a very sick wife and am looking desperatly to find out how much time i have to get out of my home. can the sheriff serve us and evict us even before the bankruptcy is discharged? and i understand i will receive an act 91/6 letter prior to this. after receiveing this and if i do nothing, how much time will i have from the time of the letter until the sheriff serves the papers and how much time after the serving of the papers do i get to get out? hoping someone can clarify this. thank you

  7. Well, my daughter worked 16months w/the lender..supplying over and over again, all documents they requested. Most of time having to refax and mail the same documents, the lender would say not received, need more updates…on and on. Finally, after calling the lender ‘regularly’..but always getting different answers from different reps, a wk before Christmas, a call was placed to lender and daughter was notified auction of property was to take place in 4days!!! Merry Christmas…! The ‘last’ contact she had BEfore finding this out, the rep had stated all was going well!! INCOMPETENT!…My daughter worked religiously to get thru this mod process (all while holding a job, raising a child, completing her BA, and going thru a DIVORCE…divorce is the reason this request for MOD came

    1. I understand your story completely. That is what I am going through. Getting my MBA, divorcing and been in this process for 10 months now. Same answers from the bank. I am looking for a place now because I know they will do the same to me.

  8. Ok-I have owned this house in Texas since 2006 and the mortgage company is unable to refi or modi the loan to assit me witht he payments. Now they say there is a escrow shortage and even if I pay the entire amount my payments will not go back to the original amount. I have decided that if they want the house that bad ok..Foreclosure here I come. It will be such a relief to be shed of the entire nasty mess!

    Have fun-Carrington Mortgage!!!

  9. I got into mortgage difficulties back in june2010 while preparing my 18 year old for college.however i did the modification papers and was turned down since i need to create more income. This is a divorce property and since the divorced was up pass three years my ex took me to court to get the house sold which the judge told him he can do but i donot have to move untill the house sold.(he doesnt live in the house). This was last october2010. Since then i have not made a payment and he has not put up a for sale sign as he requested that he wanted to do. I definately canot pay a mortgage and pay to move with my four kids(ALL HIS KIDS). Well since the judge told him he can put the house up he has become more mean claming everything in the house is his and wanting use things in the house.(WHEN HE MOVED OUT SEPT 2007 HE TOOK ALL THAT HE WANTED). Tuesday 1 march he managed to get himself fired after 25 years on the job now he may not have to give me child support. Is there anything i can now do to save my house or is it to late to try anything. I manage to pay off all my bills.

  10. I actually see quite a few people get foreclosed on that actually had equity in their homes. I have seen a few foreclosures come through where the owners had 50K+ equity. I don’t understand that, but it seems to happen more than you might think.

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