All states require that you get at least some notice before your house is sold because of foreclosure. Depending on your state and your circumstances, the foreclosure will be either judicial or nonjudicial.
If it's a judicial foreclosure—one that goes through court—you'll receive a complaint and summons notifying you that a foreclosure has started. You'll be given some time, typically between 15 and 30 days, to respond to the suit.
You also get some pre-sale notice in a nonjudicial foreclosure. In some states, like California, you get two notices: one giving you a period of time to make up the missed payments (a notice of default) and a second one (a notice of sale) giving you the date of sale in the event you haven't caught up on the payments.
In other states, you'll get just one notice. And, in others, notice might consist of publishing information about the sale in a newspaper and posting it on the property or in a public location.
Many people facing foreclosure are like the proverbial deer in the headlights: stunned and unable to react quickly. Don't be one of them. The notice period gives you precious time to plan a strategy that is most advantageous to you. And, in most cases, you'll also get some time before a foreclosure begins, giving you time to figure out a plan.
To learn how foreclosures work in your state and how much notice you'll get in the process, check out our Summary of State Foreclosure Laws article or talk to a foreclosure attorney.