Foreclosure Law in Pennsylvania
In Erie County, Pennsylvania is a process allowing a lender of a mortgage to take possession or ownership of the property that secured the mortgage in the first place, to cut their losses when a borrower defaults on his or her loan.
A foreclosure usually involves a forced sale of the house at auction, so the bank can recover at least some of the loss it has incurred as a result of the default. Banks usually want to rid themselves of the property as soon as possible, collect as much money as they can from the sale, and then move on.
In every U.S. state, including Pennsylvania, a borrower has a right to a judicial sale of their foreclosed property. A judicial sale is simply an auction overseen by a court. The purpose of this is to make sure that the lender takes reasonable steps to sell the home for the highest possible price, and to ensure that the homeowner has an opportunity to bid on the house, if he or she is able. It is in everybody's interest for the bank to get the highest price possible for the house, even the borrower's. If the house fetches a higher price than what's left on the mortgage, the buyer can keep what's leftover. On the other hand, if it fetches less, the buyer might have to pay the deficiency.
In some states, original mortgages are known as "non-recourse" loans, making the above problem a non-issue. This basically means that once the mortgaged property is sold by the lender, the debt is discharged, even if the sale nets less than the remaining balance on the mortgage. The borrower will simply have to write this off as a loss. However, this usually does not apply to refinanced or second mortgages.
How to Possibly Avoid Foreclosure in Erie County, Pennsylvania
It is absolutely essential that you maintain a line of communication with your lender. Your can't expect your lender to accommodate your changed financial situation if they don't know about it. Ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away is the worst possible solution.
You should remember that the bank doesn't really want your house. They approved a mortgage hoping to make a profit from interest, and that's what they'd much rather do. They aren't in the business of buying and managing real estate. Therefore, banks will sometimes go to surprising lengths to accommodate your financial hardship, especially if it's temporary.
If your financial situation suddenly changes, your lender may be willing to change the terms of your loan, at least temporarily, allowing 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.
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 Pennsylvania, the remaining debt is discharged.
Can a Erie County, Pennsylvania real estate attorney help?
If you live in Erie County, Pennsylvania 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.