Foreclosure Law in California
In Laguna Woods, 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 a large number of states, but not all of them, mortgages are a type of loan recognized 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 Laguna Woods, California
It is absolutely necessary that you maintain a line of communication with your lender. Your can't expect your lender to accommodate your changed financial situation if they don't know about it. Ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away is the worst possible solution.
Throughout all this, you should remember one thing: the bank doesn't really want your house. After all, banks aren't real estate speculators, they're primarily money lenders. They stand to make a great deal of money if you are able to make your mortgage payments until it's paid off. They're likely to make much less if they're forced to sell your house.
It's possible that your lender is willing to negotiate a plan that results in temporarily-lower payments on your mortgage, especially if this means that they will be able to get some payments, instead of none at all.
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 Laguna Woods, California real estate attorney help?
If you live in Laguna Woods, 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.