Pierce County Foreclosures





Foreclosure Overview & Foreclosure Process

What is Foreclosure?

Foreclosure is a process that allows a lender to recover the amount owed on a defaulted loan by selling or taking ownership (repossession) of the property securing the loan. The foreclosure process begins when a borrower/owner defaults on loan payments (usually mortgage payments) and the lender files a public default notice, called a Notice of Default or Lis Pendens. The foreclosure process can end one of four ways:

1. The borrower/owner reinstates the loan by paying off the default amount during a grace period determined by state law. This grace period is also known as pre-foreclosure.
2. The borrower/owner sells the property to a third party during the pre-foreclosure period. The sale allows the borrower/owner to pay off the loan and avoid having a foreclosure on his or her credit history.
3. A third party buys the property at a public auction at the end of the pre-foreclosure period.
4. The lender takes ownership of the property, usually with the intent to re-sell it on the open market. The lender can take ownership either through an agreement with the borrower/owner during pre-foreclosure, via a short sale foreclosure or by buying back the property at the public auction. Properties repossessed by the lender are also known as bank-owned or REO properties (Real Estate Owned by the lender).

This foreclosure process allows for three opportunities for finding bargains on foreclosure homes.

Pre-Foreclosure (NOD, LIS):

Buying a property in pre-foreclosure involves approaching the borrower/owner and offering to buy the property outright. The borrower/owner can walk away with something to show for any equity in the property and avoid a bad mark on his or her credit history. The buyer has time to research the title and condition of the property and can realize discounts of 20-40 percent below market value.

Wondering what happens after foreclosure? Then please read on. Remember that understanding foreclosures is the first step for homeowners to stop foreclosure. It is also the first step for investors to buy foreclosure properties.

Auction (NTS, NFS):

If the loan is not reinstated by the end of the pre-foreclosure period, potential buyers can bid on the property at a public auction. Buyers often are required to pay in cash at the auction and may not have much time to research the title and condition of the property beforehand; however, a public auction often offers some of the best bargains and avoids the unpredictability of dealing directly with the borrower/owner.

Bank-owned (REO):

If the lender takes ownership of the property, either through an agreement with the owner during pre-foreclosure or at the public auction, the lender will usually want to re-sell the property to recover the unpaid loan amount. The lender will then typically clear the title and perform needed maintenance and repair; however, the potential bargain for these REO homes is typically less than a pre-foreclosure or auction property. Bank foreclosures can become government foreclosures if the loan is backed by a government agency such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In that case the government agency would be responsible for selling the property.

Timeline for Foreclosure

Washington Overview

Pre-foreclosure Period

For in-court foreclosure proceedings, once a lender files suit against a borrower, the minimum time to a court ruling is 30 days. This time is extended to 60 days for out-of-state borrowers, in order to provide ample time to respond. If the court rules in favor of the lender, the property is sold to recover the amount owed to the lender. A sheriff's sale occurs usually 6-8 weeks following court's ruling.

Before starting a foreclosure out of court, the lender mails a notice of default to the borrower and either posts the notice at the property or delivers the notice to the borrower in person. The borrower has 30 days to respond before the property is scheduled for public sale.

Up until 11 days before the sale, the borrower can stop the foreclosure by paying the past due payments, plus applicable expenses.

Notice of Sale / Auction

If the borrower does not stop the foreclosure within 30 days after receiving the notice of default, the lender records a notice of sale with the county recorder. The notice of sale is recorded at least 90 days before the sale date and is mailed to the borrower and any other affected parties.

The notice of sale is also published twice in a local newspaper. The lender publishes the notice of sale once between the 32nd and 28th days prior to the sale, and once between the 11th and 7th days before the sale.

Foreclosure sales are by public auction with the property going to the highest bidder, who must pay in cash. For out-of-court foreclosures, the trustee transfers ownership to the winning bidder, who can take possession of the property 20 days after the foreclosure sale. The borrower has no right to redeem the property after an out-of-court foreclosure sale.

For court foreclosures, the borrower has redemption rights for one year from the date of sale. To redeem the property, the borrower has to pay the full amount due and applicable costs. During the redemption period, the borrower can remain in possession of the property if it is used as their primary residence.

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