The foreclosure process in Georgia is a relatively quick process once officially started, taking only a couple of months. Don’t be caught off guard if you're facing a potential foreclosure. Read on to learn about each step in a Georgia foreclosure from missing your first payment all the way to eviction. (For more articles on Georgia foreclosure law and programs to help you avoid foreclosure, visit Nolo's Georgia Foreclosure Law Center.)
Under federal law, the servicer usually has to wait until you're 120 days' delinquent on the loan before making the first official notice or filing for any judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure. This time period is supposed to give you sufficient time to explore loss mitigation opportunities.
Also, under federal mortgage servicing laws, the servicer must attempt to contact you to discuss the delinquency no later than 36 days after the missed payment, and again within 36 days after each subsequent delinquency. No more than 45 days after missing a payment, the servicer must inform you in writing about loss mitigation options that might be available. (Learn more in Federal Laws Protecting Homeowners: Foreclosure Protections.)
Georgia Security Deeds often contain a clause that requires the lender to send a notice, commonly called a breach letter, informing you that your loan is in default before it can accelerate the loan and proceed with foreclosure. (The acceleration clause in the Security Deed permits the lender to demand that the entire balance of the loan be repaid if the borrower defaults on the loan.)
The letter must specify:
Normally, the servicer will send this letter when you're around 90 days' delinquent on the loan. If you don't cure the default, the foreclosure will start.
Most residential foreclosures in Georgia are nonjudicial, which means the lender can foreclose without going to court so long as the Security Deed contains a power of sale clause.
No later than 30 days prior to the date of the scheduled foreclosure sale, the lender must send the borrower notice of the initiation of proceedings to exercise a power of sale. The notice must be sent via registered mail, certified mail, or overnight delivery, return receipt requested, to the property address or to any other address the borrower has designated by written notice to the lender.
The notice will include, among other things, the name, address, and telephone number of the individual or entity that has full authority to negotiate, amend, and modify all terms of the mortgage (which is generally the loan servicer). (Ga. Code Ann. §§ 44-14-162, 44-14-162.2). (To get more information about loan modifications, see How to Get a Mortgage Loan Modification and Do's and Don'ts for Getting a Loan Modification.)
The foreclosure sale must be advertised in a newspaper in the county where the property is located once a week for four weeks before the scheduled sale date. (Ga. Code Ann. § 9-13-140).
The lender’s attorney will also usually send the borrowers a notice informing them they have ten days from the receipt of such notice to pay the principal and interest without incurring attorneys' fees. This notice is often included with the 30-day notice of sale. (Ga. Code Ann. § 13-1-11.)
There is no statutory right to reinstate the loan prior to the sale in Georgia, except for high-cost home loans. But most Security Deed contracts, such as the conventional Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Security Deed, provide the borrower the right to cure the default after acceleration and reinstate the loan, usually at any time prior to five days before the foreclosure sale in a nonjudicial foreclosure.
Foreclosure sales are generally held at the county courthouse on the first Tuesday of the month (unless that day is New Year's Day or the 4th of July, in which case foreclosures are held on the Wednesday of that week) between 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. (Ga. Code Ann. § 9-13-161).
The property will be sold to the highest bidder, which might be a third-party bidder or the foreclosing lender. At the sale, the lender will typically make a credit bid in the amount of the debt plus costs. But if the lender intends to pursue a deficiency judgment, then the property must appraised before the sale to ensure that the lender bids the fair market value of the property. (Ga. Code Ann. § 44-14-161).
In some states, including Georgia, the lender can seek a personal judgment—called a "deficiency judgment"—against the borrower to recover the deficiency.
To get a deficiency judgment, the lender must file a report of sale with the superior court of the county in which the land is located within 30 days after the nonjudicial foreclosure sale. If this deadline is missed, then the lender can't get a deficiency judgment. (Ga. Code Ann. § 44-14-161).
Then, the court will hold a hearing before it confirms the sale. The lender must serve the borrower with notice of the hearing at least five days before the hearing date. At the hearing, the court will verify that the foreclosure sale price is at least as much as the fair market value of the property. The court will also evaluate whether or not the lender followed proper foreclosure procedures by looking at:
If the court confirms the sale, the lender can file a lawsuit against the borrower to get a deficiency judgment. If the sale was not proper, the court may order a resale of the property. (Learn more about Deficiency Judgments After Foreclosure in Georgia.)
Georgia law doesn't provide a statutory right of redemption after the foreclosure. Once a home has been foreclosed, it can't be redeemed.
If you don’t vacate the property following the foreclosure sale, the new owner will likely:
If you need help understanding Georgia's foreclosure laws, want to fight the foreclosure, or have questions about your particular circumstances, consider contacting a local foreclosure attorney. You're also encouraged to contact a HUD-approved housing counselor to discuss various ways to avoid a foreclosure.