Foreclosure & Alternatives Law
If money has gotten tight and you have not been able to make your house payments, you may be starting to think that a foreclosure is not too far off. This can be a frightening proposition, especially if you have never been through it before and so you do not know how the legal process is supposed to play out, what rights you have, and things of this nature. Below is a quick outline of how things will go in Texas so that you can be prepared.
First of all, though you may get some fees on your account if you miss just a single payment, that alone is not going to be grounds for a foreclosure. You typically have to miss multiple payments, perhaps not sending in the checks for 90 days or more. After that, your mortgage lender is finally going to take action. They will likely contact you about the missed payments long before you get to this point, as lenders do not really want to own homes; they want to get the money that is owed.
Whether or not they notify you about the missed payments, they are definitely going to notify you of the intent to file a foreclosure lawsuit. Different states have different regulations for when this has to be done, but Texas law stipulates that you get a notice that you have defaulted first. This will come 20 days before the next notice, which is a notice of sale. The notice of sale, in turn, has to come to you three weeks before the sale itself. This gives you nearly six weeks of advance notice.
When you get the notice of sale, you may want to reinstate the loan, perhaps by paying off what you owe in back payments and additional fees. You have 20 days to do this in Texas. Alternatively, you can always choose to pay off the entirety of what you owe.
In other states, you may also have a right to redeem the home for a set period in the wake of the sale. In Texas, you have no such right. After the sale, you cannot then attempt to redeem the home in the coming months or years; the sale is final.
For those who are in the military, there are a few special protections. Namely, the home cannot be foreclosed upon by the lender while the military member is serving and is therefore unable to take action to keep the house. The time limits listed above do not count while you are on active duty, for example, so they merely begin when you return. You will not return home to find out that you lost the house while you were serving.
Texas does not have special protections for high-cost mortgages, which some other states do provide.
At the end of the foreclosure process, if you were not able to stall it —- by declaring bankruptcy, for example -— or retain your home, you do get three days to leave the house. You will get a notice telling you that the three days has begun. After those days are up, the party that foreclosed on the home has the option to ask the authorities for an eviction.
Foreclosure can be confusing and difficult, as well as emotional and stressful. Even so, you need to make sure that you know what legal options you have, which may require working with a legal professional.