Foreclosure & Alternatives Law
How Long Does the Typical Foreclosure Process Take in California?
It takes several months for a lender to foreclose on a California property. If everything goes according to schedule, the process typically takes approximately 120 days — about four months — but the process can take as long as 200 or more days to conclude.
Part of the reason for the lengthy California foreclosure process is because the borrower has 90 days to pay the lender the balance owed after the lender files the Notice of Default with the county.
Nonjudicial vs. Judicial Foreclosures
While most foreclosures in California are nonjudicial, some are judicial, which means they go through the court system. Judicial foreclosures can take longer and are usually more expensive, and if the property sells for less than you owe, you’ll be responsible for the “deficiency” or the amount of money leftover.
One of the benefits of judicial foreclosure is you have the option to repurchase your property from the person who buys it at auction for up to three months after it’s sold if you do not owe a deficiency. If there is a deficiency, you have up to a year after it’s sold to repurchase the property. This is commonly referred to as the “right of redemption” or the “redemption period.”
California Foreclosure Timeline
The timeline for a foreclosure in California can vary depending on the individual circumstances. For the most part, you can expect the process to go as follows.
- 90 days late: If your mortgage payment is 90 days late, your lender might consider starting the foreclosure process. This doesn’t mean you’ll automatically lose your home the first time you miss a payment. Sometimes, it’s helpful to work out a plan with the lender to catch up on your payments to avoid foreclosure proceedings. If your lender files a Notice of Default with the court, they’ll let you know within 10 days. At this point, you can try to make up your back payments to avoid default. If you can’t make your payments, your home loan will be in default.
- 180 days: If your home loan is in default and you’ve received notice, you have three months to catch up on late payments. If you aren’t able to pay the amount that you owe, the bank will send you a Notice of Trustee Sale by certified mail.
- 200 days: The bank has to wait another 20 days before it can set a date for the auction, where the property will then be sold.
Stopping a Foreclosure in California
If you’re late on your mortgage payments, you might still have a chance to stop the foreclosure process and keep your home. If you’ve missed payments but don’t yet have an auction sale date, you can contact your lender and see if you can work out a plan for catching up and making payments. You can also ask the bank about any relief programs or loan modification options that are available until you are able to make your payments again.
If you have a sale date, you can stop the sale by filing for bankruptcy. Once you’ve filed bankruptcy, you’ll receive an automatic stay, which stops the bank from going forward with the foreclosure.
If your foreclosure is a nonjudicial foreclosure, you can also file a lawsuit against the bank to stop the process. However, for a lawsuit to work, you’ll need to convince the court that the foreclosure should not go forward. For example, if you can prove to the court that the bank made a serious error or did not follow the proper steps in the process according to California law, you might be able to put a halt to the foreclosure.