Foreclosure Law in California
In Sonoma, 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 typically take possession of the house, and then sell it at auction, to try to encompass 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 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 Sonoma, California
It is absolutely essential that you maintain a line of communication with your lender. Your can't expect your lender to accommodate your altered financial situation if they don't know about it. Ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away is the worst possible solution.
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.
It's possible that your lender is willing to negotiate a plan that results in temporarily-lower payments on your mortgage, particularly if this means that they will be able to get some payments, instead of none at all.
Lastly, there is the "short sale." Usually 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 choice. 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 Sonoma, California real estate attorney help?
If you live in Sonoma, 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 experienced real estate lawyer probably will.