Foreclosure Law in California
In Atherton, California, 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 individual who took out the mortgage has consistently failed to make payments on it. The property in question is usually a house.
Foreclosure most commonly is a forced sale of a house at auction, since those are the most common types of property bought through a mortgage. Banks will normally 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.
In every U.S. state, including California, a borrower has a right to a judicial sale of their foreclosed property. A judicial sale is just an auction supervised by a court. The purpose of this is to make sure that the lender takes reasonable steps to sell the home for the highest possible price, and to ensure that the homeowner has an opportunity to bid on the house, if he or she is able. It is in everybody's interest for the bank to get the highest price possible for the house, even the borrower's. If the house fetches a higher price than what's left on the mortgage, the buyer can keep what's leftover. On the other hand, if it fetches less, the buyer might have to pay the deficiency.
In some states, original mortgages are regarded "non-recourse" loans. This means that once the house or other property that secured the mortgage is sold, and if it sells for less than the balance of the mortgage, the lender has to absorb the loss, and cannot sue the borrower for the remainder. This normally does not apply to second mortgages or refinanced loans.
How to Possibly Avoid Foreclosure in Atherton, California
Communication between you and your lender is perhaps the most significant way to prevent foreclosure. Ignoring the issue is guaranteed to be counterproductive. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to dealing with lenders.
Bear in mind that banks aren't in the business of real estate speculation - they're in the business of lending money, and making profits through interest on their loans. In short, the bank doesn't really want your house - they'd much rather have you continue making your mortgage payments. For banks, foreclosing on a home is a last resort. Essentially, nobody likes foreclosures, and everyone wants to prevent them.
Because banks don't specifically enjoy foreclosing, they will probably be willing to work out an alternative payment plan with you, if necessary. Nonetheless, 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.
Lastly, there is the "short sale." Normally considered a last resort, a short sale results in the borrower losing their home, but discharges almost all of their remaining mortgage debt. If the house is worth far less than the balance of the mortgage, this might be a good choice. In California, when a house is sold in a short sale, the proceeds go to the lender. If it sells for less than the mortgage balance, whatever's leftover is forgiven. If it sells for more, the surplus goes to the homeowner.
Can a Atherton, California real estate attorney help?
If you are worried that your Atherton, California house is going to be foreclosed, and want to try and stop this, a seasoned real estate lawyer can help.