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Foreclosure Timeline

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Posted On: 11/10/2010

QUESTION:

How long does it take to get foreclosed?

ANSWER:

The time it takes to lose title to a house varies extensively.

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Once a payment is missed a lender typically has the right to foreclose. However, lenders generally do not start foreclosure proceedings until three payments have been missed. Even then, it’s possible to get back on track and avoid foreclosure. For instance, HUD recently reported that “82.7 percent of the HUD-held loans that are 90 days or more delinquent were brought under control.”

In other words, most delinquent FHA mortgages never go to foreclosure because the deficiencies are “cured.”

Another approach is to get help under the government’s Making Home Affordable program (www.makinghomeaffordable.gov). This can halt a foreclosure, often for several months, even if the borrower is unable to complete the required trial period.

Once a foreclosure has started the lender then must follow state rules. Many jurisdictions now have regulations that extend the time it takes to foreclose. Maryland, as one example, requires at least 135 days to foreclose, but in practice the delay is often longer. A growing number of jurisdictions require that lenders and borrowers engage in mediation, in essence a way to see if the borrower qualifies for modification help or other assistance.

Foreclosures can be delayed if a borrower enters into bankruptcy – and then delayed further if the borrower’s spouse later goes bankrupt. In some states there’s a right of redemption that may allow you to get back the property. Also, there can be a “ratification” requirement; that is, there must be a review to assure that the foreclosure process was fair to the borrower.

If you face foreclosure get assistance from an attorney or legal clinic. See if pro bono legal services are available. Keep records of lender conversations – date, time, with whom you spoke, etc. Send documents to lenders by certified mail with a return receipt requested so there’s evidence that your materials were received.

Peter G. Miller is the author of The Common-Sense Mortgage and a veteran real estate columnist. Have a question? Please write to peter@ctwfeatures.com.

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