In Louisiana, there are two types of judicial foreclosure processes: executory and ordinary. If you go through either type of foreclosure and the sale price is not enough to cover the balance of your mortgage, your lender can come after you for the "deficiency" after the foreclosure sale, but only if certain procedures are followed.
Read on to learn what a deficiency judgment is, when your mortgage lender can collect one against you in Louisiana, and what happens to the deficiency in a short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure in Louisiana.
(For more articles on foreclosure in Louisiana, visit our Louisiana Foreclosure Law Center.)
What Is a Deficiency After Foreclosure?
When a lender forecloses on a mortgage, the total debt owed by the borrowers to the lender frequently exceeds the foreclosure sale price. The difference between the sale price and the total debt is called a deficiency.
Example. Say the total debt owed is $200,000, but the home only sells for $150,000 at the foreclosure sale. The deficiency is $50,000.
In some states, the lender can seek a personal judgment against the debtor to recover the deficiency. Generally, once the lender gets a deficiency judgment, the lender may collect this amount (in our example, $50,000) from the borrowers by doing such things as garnishing the borrowers’ wages or levying the borrowers’ bank account. (Learn about methods that creditors can use to collect judgments.)
(To learn more about deficiency judgments in the foreclosure context, see our Deficiency Judgments After Foreclosure area.)
Foreclosure Process in Louisiana
Foreclosures in Louisiana are judicial, which means the lender has to go through state court to get one. (To learn more about the difference between judicial and nonjudicial foreclosure, and the procedures for each, see Will Your Foreclosure Take Place In or Out of Court?)
The most common judicial foreclosure process in Louisiana is known as an executory proceeding. With this type of foreclosure, in the mortgage document the homeowner has "confessed to judgment" in case of a default. If the homeowner then defaults, the foreclosing party files a foreclosure petition with the mortgage attached, and the court summarily orders the property seized and sold. The homeowner's only remedy to fight the foreclosure is to appeal or bring a lawsuit asking the court to stop the proceeding (La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. Arts. 2634, 2638).
Ordinary judicial foreclosures can occur as well. In this type of foreclosure, the lender is required to obtain a court judgment in order to foreclose (La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. Art. 3722). (Learn more about typical judicial foreclosure procedures in our article How Judicial Foreclosure Works.)
Learn more about Louisiana foreclosure procedures.
Deficiency Judgments Allowed in Louisiana Foreclosures
In either type of judicial foreclosure proceeding in Louisiana, the court may grant a deficiency judgment, provided that the property was appraised prior to the sale (unless the appraisal requirement is waived in the mortgage) (La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 2771).
Process to Get a Deficiency Judgment in an Executory Proceeding
In order to obtain a deficiency judgment with an executory proceeding, the lender must either:
- convert the executory proceeding into an ordinary proceeding, or
- file a separate suit for deficiency (La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 2772).
Process to Get a Deficiency Judgment in an Oridinary Proceeding
In an ordinary foreclosure proceeding, the deficiency judgment is obtained as part of that action.
When Lenders of Second Mortgages, HELOCs, and Other Junior Liens Can Collect From You
Generally, when a senior lienholder forecloses, any junior liens (these would include second mortgages and HELOCs, among others) are also foreclosed and those junior lienholders lose their security interest in the real estate. If a junior mortgage holder has been sold-out in this manner, that junior mortgage holder can sue you personally on the promissory note. This means that if the equity in your home doesn’t cover second and third mortgages, you may face lawsuits from those lenders to collect the balance of the loans.
Learn more in our article What Happens to Liens and Second Mortgages in Foreclosure?
Deficiency After a Short Sale in Louisiana
A short sale is when you sell your home for less than the total debt balance remaining on your mortgage and the proceeds of the sale pay off a portion of the mortgage balance. (Learn more about short sales to avoid foreclosure.)
In Louisiana, a lender can get a deficiency judgment following a short sale. To avoid a deficiency judgment, the short sale agreement must expressly state that the lender waives its right to the deficiency. If the short sale agreement does not contain this waiver, the lender may file a lawsuit to obtain a deficiency judgment.
Deficiency After a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure in Louisiana
A deed in lieu of foreclosure occurs when a lender agrees to accept a deed to the property instead of foreclosing in order to obtain title. With a deed in lieu of foreclosure, the deficiency amount is the difference between the fair market value of the property and the total debt. (Learn more about deeds in lieu of foreclosure.)
In Louisiana, a lender can get a deficiency judgment following a deed in lieu of foreclosure. To avoid a deficiency judgment with a deed in lieu of foreclosure, the agreement must expressly state that the transaction is in full satisfaction of the debt. If the deed in lieu of foreclosure agreement does not contain this provision, the lender may file a lawsuit to obtain a deficiency judgment against you.
Louisiana Foreclosure Law
To find the Louisiana statutes, go to the State Legislature’s webpage at http://legis.la.gov. Click on “Laws,” then select “Table of Contents” (on the left side of the screen) and click on “Code of Civil Procedure.” The relevant statutes are in 2631 through 2772 (which cover executory proceedings) and 3721 through 3753 (which cover judicial proceedings).
Also, you may want to review La. Rev. Stat. 13:4106 and 4107 (the Deficiency Judgment Act). To find the Louisiana Revised Statutes, follow the steps above, but click on “Revised Statutes” rather than “Code of Civil Procedure.” The statutes are located in Title 13.