Foreclosure Law in California
In San Mateo 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 normally take possession of the house, and then sell it at auction, to try to cover the balance of the mortgage. Banks typically 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 Mateo 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 forthright with your lender, and stay in touch with them as much as possible.
You should be mindful of the fact that your bank wants you to make your monthly mortgage payments - they probably aren't scheming to trick you into giving up your home. This isn't out of altruism, it's due to the fact that foreclosure is almost never as lucrative for the bank in the long run than a mortgage that is paid in full over a period of years or decades, with interest accruing the whole time. For a bank, a foreclosure is simply a last resort to cut their losses.
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.
Finally, there is the "short sale." Typically 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 San Mateo County, California real estate attorney help?
In San Mateo County, California, dealing with a possible foreclosure is never easy. However, the assistance of a knowledgeable real estate lawyer can make the whole process much more bearable, and possibly delay or even prevent the foreclosure altogether.