Real Estate Glossary

What's a Foreclosure ?

Foreclosure is a legal process that occurs when a borrower is unable to make payments on their mortgage and the lender, typically a bank, seeks to take ownership of the property as a way to recover the outstanding debt.

When a borrower first takes out a mortgage, they are required to pledge the property as collateral for the loan. This means that if the borrower fails to make their mortgage payments, the lender has the right to take possession of the property and sell it in order to recoup the outstanding debt.

Foreclosure proceedings typically begin after the borrower has missed a certain number of payments. The lender will first try to contact the borrower to find a solution, like modifying the loan terms or entering into a repayment plan. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the lender will file a notice of default, which is a public notice that the borrower has failed to pay the mortgage.

After the notice of default is filed, the borrower usually has a specific time frame, usually 90 days, to pay the outstanding debt and bring the mortgage current. If the borrower is unable to do so, the lender will file a notice of sale, which is a public notice that the property will be sold at a foreclosure auction. The auction is held at the county courthouse, and the property is sold to the highest bidder, usually the lender, as long as the bid is at least the amount of the outstanding mortgage debt.

If the property is not sold at the auction, the lender will take ownership of the property and it becomes known as an REO (Real Estate Owned) property. The lender will then try to sell the property, sometimes at a lower price, on the open market, in order to recoup as much of the outstanding debt as possible.

Foreclosure can be a stressful and difficult process for borrowers, as they may lose their home and their credit score can be severely affected. So it's important to be aware of the possibility of foreclosure and to work with the lender to find a solution, such as a loan modification or a repayment plan, as soon as you are unable to make your mortgage payments.