Based on calls received by Foreclosure Help, many homeowners are still unsure about how the foreclosure process works.
Here are examples of the most common questions being asked, with our answers:
1. The lender that holds my mortgage has recorded a “Notice of Default” against my property. Does this mean my home is in foreclosure?
Answer: A Notice of Default is the first step in the formal foreclosure process. Until this notice is recorded, you are not in danger of losing your home even if you are delinquent in your payments. The Notice of Default starts the foreclosure clock running and requires immediate action on your part to prevent the next step in the process, which is the “trustee sale”. You will lose ownership of your home if the trustee sale occurs.
2. Wasn’t the bank supposed to warn me before starting the foreclosure process.
Answer: The answer is yes. Under the new Consumer Financial Protection federal regulations, a lender or servicer cannot begin the formal foreclosure process until it has attempted to work with you to save your home for at least 120 days. Under the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, the lender or servicer was required to work with you for at least 30 days prior to filing the Notice of Default. Under both federal and state rules, the lender or servicer should have given you the contact information for a “Single Point of Contact” so that you would know who to contact to discuss options for saving your home.
3. Once foreclosure begins, how soon will I lose my house if I don’t pay the past due amounts demanded by the lender.
Answer: As a minimum, the lender or loan servicer that initiates foreclosure cannot set a trustee sale date for 90 days after filing the Notice of Default. The sale date must be 21 days after the 90-day period expires. Furthermore, under both state and federal law, the foreclosure process cannot move forward as long as you are negotiating with the lender or servicer to modify the mortgage or find some other “work out” option that would avoid the necessity for you to pay the full arrears.
4. I have been turned down for modifications in the past. Is there any action I can take now that would help save my home?
Answer: The rules for modification and refi options have been relaxed in the last year to make more homeowners eligible. Also, the Keep Your Home California program has expanded its coverage for financial benefits to reinstate mortgages. Regardless of whether you have been denied in the past, it is worthwhile to have a HUD-Approved housing counselor conduct a free, confidential evaluation of your current eligibility for help under the various government options.
5. I have seen a lot of ads for attorneys and foreclosure specialists who claim they can help. Should I hire one of these groups?
Answer: These profit-motivated groups seldom provide any real help to homeowners. They often make the homeowner’s situation worse by giving a false sense of security while the foreclosure time limits are running out. They also charge significant fees, usually in advance, even though California law makes it illegal for any attorney or any other person to charge an advance fee for foreclosure prevention services. If you have paid advance fees for foreclosure services, contact the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit at www.santaclara-da.org. Your best alternative is to work with a HUD-approved counselor, who will never charge you a fee. HUD- approved counselors are highly trained and have access to communication portals and other advantages not available in the profit-making industry. For referral to a HUD-approved counselor, contact the Foreclosure Help Center at 408-293-6000 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.