In a nonjudicial foreclosure, the lender—or subsequent loan owner—doesn't have to go to court to foreclose your home. So, the process typically goes more quickly than a judicial foreclosure, which is through court.
Foreclosures are usually nonjudicial in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia (sometimes), Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico (sometimes), North Carolina, Oklahoma (unless the homeowner requests a judicial foreclosure), Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota (unless the homeowner requests a judicial foreclosure), Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
State law sets out the specifics of a nonjudicial foreclosure procedure, including how much notice you get, how the property will be sold (typically at a public auction), and what rights, if any, you have to reinstate the loan before the foreclosure date or recover title to the property (redeem the home) after it's sold. Generally, here's how the process works.
You'll often get a letter notifying you of the lender's intent to begin foreclosure. In many cases, as required by the loan contract, the lender sends a letter—a "breach" letter—informing you that a foreclosure will begin unless you make up the missed payments, plus costs and interest. The letter may be sent during the 120-day preforeclosure period.
Nonjudicial foreclosure notices. Depending on what state law requires, you might get:
Right to reinstate. State law often provides a right to reinstate the loan by getting caught up on what you owe, plus fees and costs by a certain deadline prior to the sale. The deed of trust might also provide a certain amount of time to reinstate before a foreclosure sale. With some exceptions, however, once the sale occurs, your house is gone.
The auction is held. If you don't reinstate the loan, the home will be sold at auction. As with judicial foreclosures, the property often goes to the lender (or subsequent owner of the loan) when no one else bids on the property. The property is then known as "Real Estate Owned" (REO).
Right to redeem. A few states give you some time after the foreclosure auction to redeem the property (to recover ownership of the property by paying off the successful bidder or paying off the full loan debt).
You leave voluntarily or get evicted. If you don't leave the property when your legal right to remain in the home ends, which depends on state law, you'll receive an official, written notice to leave the property. (Learn more about eviction after foreclosure.)
Deficiency judgment. The lender might—if allowed by state law—later file a suit against you to get a deficiency judgment if selling the property didn't fully pay off the debt. If granted, you remain responsible for the outstanding balance left on the loan after the foreclosure sale. Some states don't allow deficiency judgments under certain circumstances.
(To get an idea about how a typical nonjudicial foreclosure might proceed, see Typical Nonjudicial Foreclosure: Example.)
Because you don't have the opportunity to raise defenses to the foreclosure in court as part of a nonjudicial foreclosure, if you wish to contest the foreclosure, you will have to file a lawsuit yourself. When you do this, you ask the court to temporarily stop the foreclosure so that you can resolve the legal issues in court. Once you're in court, you can raise the same defenses you would have raised in a judicial foreclosure proceeding.
In this kind of lawsuit, you typically ask the court for three things, in the following order:
If you're facing a foreclosure and want to learn about potential defenses that you could raise in court, whether you're likely to face a deficiency judgment, or how to avoid a foreclosure by working out an alternative, like a loan modification, consider talking to a foreclosure attorney. Contacting a HUD-approved housing counselor is also a good idea.