The 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