Foreclosure allows a lender to financially recover from a defaulted loan on a house. This processes is initiated after a fourth missed payment on a mortgage, and a Notice of Default is what begins the process officially.

If you’ve reeived a foreclosure notice from a lender, you legally still have the right to stay on the property until the process is completed. Based on where you live, this can take a few months or up to a year (or more!)

The length of that time depends on whether this is a judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure. A judicial foreclosure involves court action. The lender files a lawsuit to prove that a borrower has done everything in their power to remedy any debts owed. In this case you will have 30 days to respond to the summons. If you don’t respond, you lose the case automatically and the property will be sold at a foreclosure sale.

A nonjudicial foreclosure, or a “foreclosure by power of sale” is where a lender sells the property to save their losses. Since they don’t need a courtroom for this, the process is much faster.

There are other circumstances that lengthen foreclosure. Negotiating repayment plans is a common tactic where both the lender and the borrower can benefit. You can also do a short-sale, where a borrower lists the property for sale for a certain length of time, gets a buyer, and then the lender must approve the bid. Choosing this route gives you a “paid in full” status on your credit history.

Another viable option is a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, which also takes a couple of months. In this case the borrower gives up the property entirely, saving them from foreclosure. This involves submitting an application and documentation, including a financial statement, recent tax returns, bank statements, and a hardship letter, among others.