Foreclosure Law in California
In Santa Cruz, 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.
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 encompass 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 form 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 safeguard 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. Essentially, 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 Santa Cruz, California
First and foremost, you need to communicate with your lender, and not dismiss 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.
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.
If your financial situation suddenly changes, your lender may be willing to change the terms of your loan, at least temporarily, permitting for lower monthly payments. If this means that they will be able to get some money from you, with default as the alternative, it can become an attractive option for everyone involved.
In California, some buyers have no choice but to resort to a short sale. This is simply the sale of the house, and using the funds to pay off the remainder of the mortgage. One benefit of a short sale is that, if the house sells for less than the mortgage balance, the remaining debt is excused, and the borrower is free and clear.
Can a Santa Cruz, California real estate attorney help?
If you live in Santa Cruz, 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 efficient real estate lawyer probably will.