Foreclosure Law in Alabama
In Athens, Alabama, foreclosure is a legal process through which an entity which has issued a mortgage takes possession and/or ownership of the property that secured the mortgage, because the person who took out the mortgage has consistently failed to make payments on it. The property in question is usually a house.
Foreclosure most frequently is a forced sale of a house at auction, since those are the most common types of property bought through a mortgage. Banks will typically try to get rid of the property as quickly as they can, selling it for as much money as they can get in a short period of time.
Like every other state in the U.S., Alabama permits homeowners facing foreclosure to opt for a foreclosure by judicial sale. This is a process through which a court oversees the sale of the house by the lender. The purpose is to see that the lender takes reasonable steps to notify the public of the auction, and other steps to ensure that the house sells for the highest price possible. This is meant to protect the borrower, making it less likely that they'll have to pay a large deficiency judgment (the remaining amount due on the mortgage if the house sells for less than the remaining balance).
In a large number of states, but not all of them, mortgages are a type of loan identified as a "non-recourse loan." While the regulations governing these loans are complex, it most basically means that, once the house is sold, and the sale price doesn't cover what the borrower owes, the lender can't go after the borrower for the remainder. They simply have to take the loss.
How to Possibly Avoid Foreclosure in Athens, Alabama
Communication between you and your lender is perhaps the most important way to avoid foreclosure. Ignoring the issue is guaranteed to be counterproductive. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to dealing with lenders.
You should remember that the bank doesn't really want your house. They authorized a mortgage hoping to make a profit from interest, and that's what they'd much rather do. They aren't in the business of buying and managing real estate. Therefore, banks will sometimes go to surprising lengths to accommodate your financial hardship, especially if it's temporary.
Because banks don't particularly enjoy foreclosing, they will probably be willing to work out an alternative payment plan with you, if necessary. However, if you think that this might be needed in the near future, you should contact your lender immediately. The sooner they know about it, the more options you have.
As a last resort, some borrowers consider a "short sale." In a short sale, the homeowner sells the house to the highest bidder, and uses the proceeds to pay off the remaining debt. If there is any extra from the sale, it goes to the borrower. If the sale price is worth less than what's left of the mortgage in Alabama, the remaining debt is excused.
Can a Athens, Alabama real estate attorney help?
If you live in Athens, Alabama and believe that your house is in danger of being foreclosed, you may have more options and protections than you think. You may not know what all of them are, but an efficient real estate lawyer probably will.