How long you get to legally stay in your home after a foreclosure sale depends on state law. In some states, the foreclosed homeowner may stay in the property during a post-sale redemption period, which could be several months, or until some other action, like confirmation of the foreclosure sale.
If you don't vacate the home after your legal right to live there ends, whoever bought the home at the foreclosure sale—often the foreclosing bank—will evict you.
When you get a notice demanding that you leave the property, the notice will tell you how long you have before you need to move out. Generally, you’ll get between three and 30 days. (Check our Summary of State Foreclosure Laws for specifics in your state.) If you don't leave, in some cases, the new owner of your home must then file an eviction suit in court, which is often called an unlawful detainer or forcible entry and detainer action. An eviction procedure might take a few months, which gives you some more time in your house payment-free.
But forcing the new owner of the home to evict you in court has its downside. It’s often best to move out at the end of the period set out in the written notice instead of waiting until the new owner goes to court and gets an eviction order. If you are sued, it’s a matter of public record and can hurt your ability to rent or lease in the future. You’ll already have bad credit as a result of the foreclosure (and bankruptcy, if you go that route), and many landlords subscribe to private databases that screen prospective tenants for being the subject of previous eviction lawsuits. That fact above all others can lead a potential landlord to turn down your application for a lease or rental agreement.
In other cases, an eviction is an extension of the foreclosure action and can happen quickly. Following the foreclosure sale, the foreclosing bank asks the court for what’s called a “writ of possession” or a “writ of assistance.” The writ is a court order telling the sheriff to remove you from the property. Typically, the sheriff will post a notice on the property’s front door giving you 24 hours to leave the home. If you don’t move out by the deadline, the sheriff’s crew may physically remove you—and your belongings—from the property.
Foreclosure laws vary widely from state to state. To find out the eviction process after a foreclosure in your state, consider talking to a foreclosure attorney.