You became a real estate investor because you saw unbridled opportunity and the chance to see all of your dreams come true. However, the current economic situation may have thrown you off-track. If you’ve fallen behind with mortgage payments, it’s imperative that you know and understand the foreclosure process so you can seek an effective solution that will allow you to emerge from this crisis a smarter investor. Then you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself – and your investments. Years from now you can tell your off-spring how you weathered the most severe financial storm in history. First you need to learn the foreclosure process so you can find a solution for success.
Missed payment #1 – Up to this point in your real estate investing career you may have always been able to make all payments on-time, but bad things really can happen to good people. At this point, your lender probably won’t be too concerned. They’ll normally send you a friendly reminder notice in the mail. The smartest thing you can do is to call them as soon as it becomes obvious that you’re going to miss your payment due date.
Missed payment #2 – Now your lender is probably beginning to worry a little bit. They’ll probably pick up their phone to discuss your account and find out when you plan on getting caught up. You should be proactive by reaching out to them to discuss your financial situation and trying to devise a solution that will get you current as soon as possible.
Missed payment #3 – At this point your friendly mortgage lender will likely give way to the not-so-friendly collections department. Depending on the state in which you live, you’ll receive a “Demand Letter” or a “Notice to Accelerate” in the mail. The letter will explain very clearly and directly what steps your lender intends to take if you don’t quickly get current with your payments. Normally this letter will mention the dreaded “F” word – foreclosure. You will be given a date (usually 30 days) by which you will need to either pay all past-due payments or make other arrangements that are satisfactory to your lender.
Missed payment #4 – Your mortgage situation is getting critical at this point. You’re about to run out of time before your lender decides that you aren’t likely to reinstate your loan. Once the 30 day demand letter time frame has passed, your lender can legally foreclose at any time of their choosing. At this point your delinquent account will usually be referred to their attorneys – and you will begin incurring large attorney’s fees.
Sheriff’s Sale – If you don’t act quickly to remedy your mortgage delinquency, your lender’s attorney will schedule a Sheriff’s Sale or Trustee’s Sale (depending upon whether you live in a judicial or non-judicial state). Much of what happens from this point forward will depend upon the state in which your property is located. You will be noticed of the pending sale of your property in one of several ways:
- A sale notice delivered by mail
- A notice found taped to the front door of your property
- A notice of sale published in one of your local newspapers
This is one of your final opportunities to rescue yourself from your financial situation before being forced to move. Once the sale date comes and goes you will have to move.
Redemption Period – After your property has been sold it may be possible for you to reclaim your property, but it won’t be easy – or cheap. Not only will you be required to pay the entire outstanding loan balance of your mortgage, you’ll also be required to pay all collection costs, fees, and the significant attorney’s fees. Your ability to redeem your property will depend upon the state in which the property is located, so the allowable time frames will vary considerably. You can learn more about state-specific procedures at www.foreclosurelaw.org
Foreclosure is serious business, and the process can vary considerably, depending upon your lender’s policies, state law, and how intent your lender is on taking the steps necessary to reclaim possession of your property.
Protect your credit, your options, and your reputation by contacting your lender immediately and working diligently to create a foreclosure solution that is acceptable to your lender. Your lender is in the business of making loans. While they don’t want your property, they’re not afraid to take it back in order to protect their financial interests.
Don’t let a temporary financial setback destroy your real estate investing career. Be smart, weigh your options, and create a solution that will get you back on track as soon as possible.