Foreclosure Basics

The thought of losing your home is one of gut-wrenching pain for many people who are in the predicament of not being able to keep up with their mortgage payment every month. Your day to day activities can be consumed with worry and distraction, not to mention never-ending phone calls from bill collectors. You might ask yourself if you can avoid foreclosing and losing your home?

First, besides losing your home, just what does foreclosure mean?

It is the legal means by which a bank or other creditor to which you owe money, sells or repossesses your home or a piece of real property you may own, due to your default on a promissory note. When your house is foreclosed upon, you must move out and leave your home and find a new place to live. Your home is usually offered for sale at a public auction in order for the lien holder to make enough money back to cover, or pay for, their lien on your property. Once the property is sold, it is said that the lender or lien holder has foreclosed it's lien.

There are many full and part time real estate investors who look for foreclosure sales all over the country. They hope to gain profit by picking up a foreclosed upon home at less than market value and then later resale it at a profit.

There are two usual types of foreclosure in most common law states. Under "strict foreclosure," the bank claims the title and possession of the property back in full satisfaction of a debt, usually on contract. In the proceeding simply known as foreclosure, the property is exposed to auction by the county sheriff or some other officer of the court. Many states require this latter sort of proceeding in some or all cases of foreclosure, in order to protect any equity the debtor may have in the property, in case the value of the debt being foreclosed on is substantially less than the market value of the property. In this type of foreclosure, a deed is issued to the winning bidder at auction. Banks and other institutional lenders typically bid in the amount of the owed debt at the sale, and if no other buyers step forward they get title to the property in return.

However, some states utilize non-judicial foreclosure proceedings, in which the mortgagee, gives the homeowner a legally specified notice of the default and the mortgagee's intent to sell the property. If the homeowner fails to satisfy or pay off the debt, its default, or use other lawful means, such as filing for bankruptcy to stop the sale, the mortgagee or its representative will conduct a public auction in a similar manner as the auction described above. The highest bidder at the auction becomes the owner of the property free and clear of any interest of the former homeowner.

Useful Tips To Avoid Foreclosure

* Do not ignore letters or contact from your lender and show good faith. If you are having problems making your payments, call or write to your lender's Loss Mitigation Department without delay. Explain your situation, let them know that you want to work this out and see what assistance they might be able to lend.

* Do not yet leave your home. Leaving may disqualify you from assistance.

* Contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency. Call (800) 569-4287 for the housing counseling agency nearest you. These agencies are valuable resources and they frequently have information on services and programs offered by Government agencies as well as private and community organizations that could help you. The housing counseling agency may also offer credit counseling. These services are usually free of charge, and they can help explain possible alternatives.

Possible alternatives you may consider include:

Special Forbearance. Your lender may be able to arrange a repayment plan based on your financial situation and may even provide for a temporary reduction or suspension of your payments.

Mortgage Modification. You may qualify if you have recovered from a financial problem and can afford the new payment amount.

Partial Claim. This will allow you to avoid foreclosure by selling your property for an amount less than the amount necessary to pay off your mortgage loan.

It is critical that you are sincere about your intent to satisfy the lien on your property, and are willing to make changes and sacrifice to carry it out. Most banks and lienholders would rather work out a mutually beneficial solution with you, than having to go through foreclosure proceedings.

About the Author

James Smith publishes information on foreclosure properties. For more information visit This article may be freely reprinted as long as the author's resource box and url links remain intact.

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