Foreclosure: What It Means, How It Works

Foreclosure is the process through which a lender can sell or repossess (take ownership of) a property in order to recover the amount owed on a defaulted loan secured by the property. Anyone worried about missing their home payments--or those thinking about purchasing a foreclosure property--should understand how foreclosures work.
State laws govern the foreclosure process, and they vary from state to state. You'll want to check with your own state to learn the details, including whether a judicial procedure is required.
Following is a broad-brush summary of the three stages of foreclosure, assuming the homeowner fails to satisfy the repayment obligation along the way.

Pre-foreclosure. This stage begins when the homeowner falls behind on home-loan payments (or sometimes other terms of the loan). Lenders may wait for a second, third or even fourth missed payment before sending the homeowner a "default" notice--which becomes public record. The homeowner then has a given period of time to respond to the notice and/or come up with the outstanding payments and fees--often by selling the home. (If a judicial procedure is required, it occurs after the default notice is given.)

Foreclosure. At this stage, the former homeowner may or may not have been evicted (depending on state law) when the lender puts the home up for public auction (after a judgment of foreclosure in those states requiring judicial procedure). If the home sells at auction, money from the sale is used to pay off the costs of the foreclosure, tax and other prior liens, service charges and advances, interest and principal on the mortgage, late charges or fees, and liens recorded after the first mortgage. Any amount left over is paid to the borrower (former homeowner). Often, however, proceeds of the sale are less than the various amounts owed, in which case the lender may be able to hold the borrower responsible for the difference.

"Real Estate Owned." A foreclosed property that does not sell at auction--either because no one bid on it or bids were too low to cover the outstanding loan--becomes the property of the lender (or government agency that guaranteed the loan--HUD, VA, etc.). Most lenders prefer to list their "real estate owned (REO)" homes for sale through real estate brokers, rather than keeping them or managing the sale of REOs themselves.

I pull out all the stops to sell your home.

Lonnie Snyder
Keller Williams Realty Southeast Sound
Phone: 206-406-2710
E-Mail :

Lonnie Snyder is a full time real estate agent and REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty specializing in Residential Real Estate for buyers and sellers in Washington’s Kent, Renton, Newcastle and South Bellevue.

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