Summary of Massachusetts' Foreclosure Laws

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If you are facing foreclosure in Massachusetts, it’s important to understand some of the basics, including:

  • the most common type of foreclosure procedure (judicial v. nonjudicial) used in Massachusetts
  • how much time you have to respond
  • your rights and protections in the process, and
  • what happens afterwards (for example, whether you’ll be liable for a deficiency judgment).

Below we have outlined some of the most important features of Massachusetts foreclosure law. Keep in mind that this is just a summary; we've included statute citations so you can get more details from the laws themselves. And be sure to check out Nolo’s extensive Foreclosure section, where you can find information about all aspects of foreclosure, definitions of foreclosure terms (like redemption and reinstatement), and options to avoid foreclosure.


State Rule

Most common type of foreclosure process

Nonjudicial under power of sale

Notice of the foreclosure

Prior to accelerating the loan and initiating foreclosure proceedings, the foreclosing party must mail (or serve) to the borrower a 150-day notice of the right to reinstate the mortgage and that borrower may be eligible for state agency assistance. (This time period can be reduced to 90 days if foreclosing party made a good faith effort to negotiate an alternative to foreclosure, but was unable to come to a resolution with the borrower, or if the borrower does not respond to a mailing offering to negotiate a foreclosure alternative.) After loan is accelerated, the foreclosing party must mail a notice of sale to homeowner at least 14 days before the sale date, and publish notice for three consecutive weeks before the sale date.

Reinstatement of loan before sale

150-day or 90-day right to cure (the terms of the mortgage may provide additional time)

Redemption after sale

Not available after a nonjudicial foreclosure

Special protections for foreclosures involving high-cost mortgages

If the original lender (or its assignee) violates Massachusetts’ high-cost home loan law, the borrower can rescind the loan and use rescission as a defense to the foreclosure. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183C § 18. Lender is required to attempt to modify certain high-cost and predatory loans. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 244 § 35B.

Special state protections for service members

The foreclosing party typically files a Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) action with the land court separate from the actual foreclosure. The only purpose is to determine whether a borrower is entitled to the protections of the SCRA. The foreclosing party serves a copy of the complaint to the borrower, which gives the borrower the opportunity to file an answer if he or she is in the military.

Deficiency judgments

Can be obtained in separate lawsuit if a notice of intent to seek a deficiency is mailed to borrower at least 21 days before sale date

Cash exempted in bankruptcy

About $12,725 for one person, $25,450 for a married couple under the federal bankruptcy exemptions. Up to $6,000 under state exemption system.

Notice to leave after house is sold

The new owner must first give a notice to quit (leave) and then can begin eviction proceedings by filing a complaint in court

Foreclosure statutes

Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 244, § 14, 17A, 17B, 18, 35A

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