Foreclosure & Alternatives Law
Facing foreclosure can be frightening and stressful for homeowners in Washington; losing your home due to missed payments on a mortgage is a complicated process for you and your family. To make this as easy and smooth as possible, it is wise to make sure that you know what legal rights you have, and you may even want to work with a legal professional from beginning to end. While the laws in the states are all similar, they are state-specific, so you must know exactly how Washington law impacts the situation, as is discussed below.
The actual amount of time that it takes for a foreclosure to start is up to the lender, but most lenders are going to wait at least 90 days -— or the time it takes for three missed payments to add up -— before they start the lawsuit. Some may wait longer, and most are going to contact you repeatedly when it is noted that you have missed the payments. This is not generally something that comes as a surprise.
Even if your mortgage lender does not contact you about the missed payments, the law ensures that you will get some advance notice. Before the notice of default can be given out, they must get in touch with you, and this has to happen one month (30 days) before you get that notice. You are going to get this notice in three different ways: by registered or certified mail, by first-class mail, and either directly served to you or posted on your home.
The next notice is the notice of sale, and you have to get that -— in the same fashion that is described above —- between 90 and 120 days prior to the sale of your home. In no case can a home be sold sooner than 190 days after you miss that first payment.
There are a few ways to progress without having the home sold. If you want to pay off the missed payments and reinstate the loan, you can do that right until 11 days before the house is sold. If the foreclosure is a nonjudicial sale, then you cannot redeem the home after the sale has completed, but you can do so for judicial sales, in some cases, up to a year after the sale.
While the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is a federal regulation, the state of Washington uses a similar system to protect you if you are in the military. In short, you have no obligations to attend to a foreclosure while on active duty. The time limits laid out above cannot start until you return. This gives you time to properly address the issue, rather than returning to discover that your home was foreclosed upon while you were serving.
If you do not leave your home after the foreclosure, you can be legally evicted. However, you have a period of almost three weeks (20 days) to vacate the home after it is sold. Only after that grace period can the foreclosing party ask for the eviction.