Before a bank can sell your house at a foreclosure sale, you'll get some sort of formal notice about the foreclosure. The kind of notice you'll get generally depends on whether the foreclosure is judicial or nonjudicial and what your state's foreclosure laws require.
With both judicial and nonjudicial foreclosures, most people some type of preforeclosure notice, like a breach letter or notice of intent to foreclose. Then, in a judicial foreclosure you'll get notice of the lawsuit that begins the foreclosure process. In a nonjudicial foreclosure, the notice you'll get depends on state law, which varies widely.
In around half of the states, the bank has to file a lawsuit in court to foreclose. This process is called a judicial foreclosure.
If you live in a state where foreclosures go through the court system, you might get 30 days' notice of the bank's intent to file a foreclosure action in the form of a breach letter if the terms of your mortgage or deed of trust require it. And, some states have a law that requires the lender to send a preforeclosure notice.
You'll definitely get a summons and complaint telling you when a foreclosure action has been filed in the appropriate court. Once you receive notice about the lawsuit, most people have 20 to 30 days to respond to the suit. If you file a response contesting the foreclosure action, it might take a few months—or even longer—before a judge rules on whether to grant the foreclosure.
Even if you don't contest the foreclosure action, the sale usually won't take place until around a month after the judge issues a foreclosure order. So you'll probably have a couple of months from the first notice of the case to the date the court orders the sale to take place. You'll probably have at least double that amount of time, possibly more, if you decide to oppose the foreclosure in court.
If the judge orders the foreclosure sale, you'll probably get a notice telling you when and where the sale will take place. In Connecticut and Vermont, though, in a process called a "strict foreclosure," the judge can transfer title to the property as part of the judgment of foreclosure—without a foreclosure sale.
In the remaining states, the foreclosing bank can opt to use an out-of-court (nonjudicial) process to foreclose. With a nonjudicial foreclosure, the bank has to carefully follow a series of steps described in the state statutes to complete the process.
Again, depending on the terms of your loan contract, you might get a breach letter. Also, depending on which state you live in, you might get a preforeclosure notice stating the bank's intent to file a foreclosure action.
How much time you have from the first formal notice that foreclosure proceedings have started to the date your property will be sold—and the procedures in between—varies from state to state. State law might require:
You can probably count on at least 30 days' notice before the foreclosure sale after the first official notice. In most states, you'll get a couple of months. Check your state's law in our Summary of State Foreclosure Laws to learn the process in your state.
Foreclosure procedures and timelines are different in each state. To learn exactly what type of notice you'll receive and how long a foreclosure will take in your state and particular circumstances, consult with a local foreclosure attorney.