Foreclosure Law in California
In San Francisco County, 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.
When consumers have to deal with foreclosure, it almost always involves a home. The bank will typically take possession of the house, and then sell it at auction, to try to cover the balance of the mortgage. Banks usually want sell the property quickly, for as much money as possible.
In California, and every other state, foreclosed homeowners can go through a "foreclosure by judicial sale." In this type of foreclosure sale, a court supervises the sale, ensuring that the bank makes every reasonable effort to get the highest price possible for the house. The purpose of this is to maximize the chances that the bank gets, at the very least, the remaining balance of the mortgage. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, it is intended to protect the borrower: it helps prevent them from still owing money after the house is sold at auction.
Some states treat mortgages as "non-recourse loans." A non-recourse loan is one that is secured by the borrower's property, but for which the borrower is not personally liable. Basically, this means that a lender in a foreclosure can take the house that was mortgaged, but nothing else. If the house sells for less than the lender is owed, it cannot go after the borrower.
How to Possibly Avoid Foreclosure in San Francisco County, 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 honest with your lender, and stay in touch with them as much as possible.
You must keep in mind that banks are in the business of lending money, not flipping property: the bank doesn't really want your house. To that end, they'll sometimes go to great lengths to accommodate your financial situation, whatever it may be. For banks, foreclosure is a last resort.
If you face sudden expenses, such as medical bills or a lawsuit, which put a serious but relatively short-term strain on your finances, you should notify your lender immediately. You might find that they are willing to accept lower payments, if this will prevent you from defaulting.
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 California, the remaining debt is discharged.
Can a San Francisco County, California real estate attorney help?
If you feel that your home is close to being foreclosed in San Francisco County, California, and want to try to prevent this, the advice and assistance of an experienced real estate lawyer can mean the difference between keeping or losing your home.