The foreclosure process varies somewhat from state to state, and depends primarily on whether the state uses mortgages or deeds of trust for the purchase of real property. Generally, states that use mortgages conduct judicial foreclosures; states that use deeds of trust conduct non-judicial foreclosures. The principal difference between the two is that the judicial procedure requires court action on a foreclosed home.
To foreclose in accordance with the judicial procedure, a lender must prove that the mortgagor (borrower/homeowner) is in default. Once the lender has exhausted its attempts to resolve the default with the homeowner, the next step is to contact an attorney to pursue court action. The attorney contacts the mortgagor to try to resolve the default. If the mortgagor is unable to pay off the default, the attorney files a lis pendens (lawsuit pending) with the court. The lis pendens gives notice to the public that a pending action has been filed against the mortgagor. The purpose of the action is to provide evidence of a default and get the court’s approval to initiate foreclosure.
Non-judicial foreclosures are based on deeds of trust that contain the power of sale clause. The clause enables the trustee to initiate a mortgage foreclosure sale without having to go to court. The trustee is typically required to issue a notice of default and notify the trustor (borrower/homeowner) accordingly about the default status. If the trustor does not respond, the trustee then initiates the steps for conducting the mortgage foreclosure sale of the home.
The above table represents our current knowledge of which states use mortgages (judicial) or deeds of trust (non-judicial) or both. The table also includes estimated foreclosure timelines for each state. Please check with your local county government to verify this information.