Foreclosure Law in Missouri
In Columbia, Missouri, foreclosure is a process through which a lender that issued a mortgage loan retakes possession of the property that was purchased with the mortgage in the event that the borrower has defaulted on his or her payments.
If an ordinary consumer faces foreclosure, it typically involves a home that was purchased with a mortgage from a bank. The bank will typically try to sell the house at a public option, with the hope of at least covering the remaining debt, to avoid taking a large loss.
Like every other state in the U.S., Missouri permits homeowners facing foreclosure to opt for a foreclosure by judicial sale. This is a process through which a court oversees the sale of the house by the lender. The purpose is to see that the lender takes reasonable steps to notify the public of the auction, and other steps to ensure that the house sells for the highest price possible. This is meant to protect the borrower, making it less likely that they'll have to pay a large deficiency judgment (the remaining amount due on the mortgage if the house sells for less than the remaining balance).
In a large number of states, but not all of them, mortgages are a type of loan identified 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 Columbia, Missouri
To avoid foreclosure, communicating with your lender is key. Let's face it - if you're in a situation where foreclosure looks like a possibility, your life is not going to be easy for some time. While it's difficult to step up and acknowledge unpleasant facts, doing so will make your life much easier in the long run. If your lender is aware of your situation, it's far more likely that you'll be able to work something out with them.
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.
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.
Some buyers in Missouri, when none of the above options have worked, resort to a "short sale." This includes selling a house which is about to be foreclosed, typically for less than its market value. If the house sells for less than what's left on the mortgage, the homeowner is relieved of the duty to pay the balance. If you have decided that you have no hope of making your mortgage payments, and foreclosure seems inevitable anyway, this might be the way to go.
Can a Columbia, Missouri real estate attorney help?
If you are worried that your Columbia, Missouri house is going to be foreclosed, and want to try and stop this, a knowledgeable real estate lawyer can help.