Foreclosure Law in California
In Clayton, 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 person 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 simply an auction overseen 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 many states, mortgages fall into a category of loans recognized as "non-recourse loans." This means that, if the house is sold by the lender, the entire debt is eliminated, even if the sale price was less than the remaining balance on the loan. While the loss of one's home can be personally devastating, treating a mortgage as a non-recourse loan at least means that the homeowner will be more or less free to move on with their life once the property is foreclosed and sold.
How to Possibly Avoid Foreclosure in Clayton, California
First and foremost, you need to communicate with your lender, and not ignore the issue. Ignoring a problem with your mortgage will not make it go away, and can only make things worse. You should be straightforward with your lender, and stay in touch with them as much as possible.
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. Basically, nobody likes foreclosures, and everyone wants to avoid them.
If you experience a sudden change in your financial situation, your lender, in an effort to prevent you from defaulting, might be willing to accept lower monthly payments, at least temporarily.
Finally, 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 option. 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 Clayton, California real estate attorney help?
If you live in Clayton, California 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 accomplished real estate lawyer probably will.