A house foreclosure, or “home foreclosure”, may result in cases where a homeowner fails to keep up with their mortgage payments on residential property. In a house foreclosure, the lending institution is allowed to conduct a forced sale of the house. The bank or lending institution can “foreclose” on the house, meaning that they can take possession of it and use it to pay for the missed and/or remaining payments. 

When Does House Foreclosure Begin and How Long Does It Take?

A house foreclosure typically begins when the homeowner has missed 4 or more mortgage payments. The party initiating the foreclosure proceedings generally must supply sufficient notice to the homeowner. Oftentimes, the provisions for when foreclosure can occur are listed in the mortgage contract.

The entire foreclosure process can last anywhere from 6 months to a year. At the beginning, there is usually an initial 2-3 month period wherein the homeowner can contest the foreclosure or seek alternatives. 

Are There Any Alternatives to Foreclosure?

Avoiding foreclosure may be possible through thoughtful planning before purchasing a home or negotiating a mortgage contract. However, if a person is facing foreclosure, they may actually have some alternatives available to them. These may include:

  • Seeking a reinstatement of the loan: This is where the original loan is kept current by paying the past due amounts.
  • Renegotiating the mortgage contract: This might not always be available, but many mortgage lenders are willing to renegotiate a contract if it means keeping a valued client
  • Filing for bankruptcy: This option usually only delays the process during the time that the bankruptcy proceedings are being held
  • Pre-foreclosure sale: While the homeowner might not keep their house here, this option can have better effects on one’s credit and their overall estate

There may be many other foreclosure alternatives available to the person, depending on the nature of the legal proceeding and the facts involved.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

House foreclosures can be daunting, and may present various legal challenges. You may need to hire a foreclosure lawyer for help with a house foreclosure proceeding. Your attorney can explain how the laws in your area work (they’re different in each state), and how they might affect your case. Also, your lawyer will be able to represent you in court if you need to be involved in any type of lawsuit or legal proceeding.