Frequently Asked Questions

What is a foreclosure?

“Foreclosure” is a common term used to describe a trustee’s sale proceeding- the correct terminology to use when describing the procedure for enforcing a lender’s rights once an obligation secured by a Deed Of Trust (or similar instrument) is in default.

What is a foreclosure? Breach or a default?

A breach exists when the borrower fails to make the payments of principal and interest when due pursuant to the note secured by deed of trust. If the balance of the note is due, the breach would be the failure to make the principal payment due plus interest, by the maturity date. Most deeds of trust have provisions for default being declared when a senior lien, insurance, taxes and assessments have not been paid, or if the property is transferred without the lenders approval.

Should I forego a foreclosure and take a deed in lieu?

Before you can even consider an alternative, the borrower must be willing to offer a deed in lieu. There are advantages to taking a deed in lieu. It could save you time and money. You should order a preliminary title report and review it carefully to determine if there are any junior liens that would survive the deed in lieu. If you are satisfied with the title report, you would take the deed in lieu subject to a title insurance policy being issued in your favor as reflected in the preliminary report. This procedure would take a lot less time than the approximate four months of foreclosure. The main disadvantages to taking a deed in lieu of foreclosure are the junior liens will not be extinguished and that the borrower may later have a change of heart and seek to have the courts set the deed in lieu aside.

Must the original trustee process a non-judicial foreclosure?

No. The beneficiary may substitute trustees anytime.

Should I notify a senior lender of the existence of my junior lien?

Yes. A senior lender may have a provision in his deed of trust that provides for senior priority for additional advances to the borrower. When advances are “obligatory” to protect the lender’s security interest, they are so secured. However, if the advances are “optional” and the senior lender has knowledge of a junior lien, the advances may not be senior to the junior lien of trust. A junior lender, therefore, should give the senior lender notice of their lien. Many lenders would like to reduce their collection efforts by having the junior lienholder advance to their loan. Send the senior lender a notice which tells them that you are willing to reinstate their loan.

If my loan is in a senior position, when should I start my foreclosure?

You may have to consider various constraints before you can file a notice of default. Is this a standard Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac document? If it is, you must send the borrower a notice of intent to foreclose 30 days prior to the filing of the NOD. You may have sold the loan to some other lender; they may have certain procedures and standards that you must adhere to, such as asking their permission to foreclose after a suitable effort has been made to work with the borrower to encourage repayment. If your loan is insured, you have be required to follow certain steps in order to be allowed to file a claim with the insurer.

The most important consideration when deciding to start a foreclosure is “Am I well secured if I wait?” If there is adequate protection between the value of your loan and the value of the property, delay should cause no loss. If there is inadequate protection, then every day delayed will cost you money. Choose a trustee who will record your NOD without any unnecessary delays and will stand behind their work.

If my loan is in a junior position, when should I start my foreclosure?

If you service a loan for someone else, if it is insured, or it is a standard FNMA/FHLMC document, then you have the same constraints mentioned in the previous question. Being in junior position adds one other very important dimension for you consideration. The senior lender can foreclose you out of your security or certainly diminish your protection as their loan interest balance grows.
If the senior lender begins foreclosure, and neither you nor the borrower bring them current, the lender could very well go to sale and eliminate your security. It is much better for you to initiate foreclosure early, go to auction, acquire the property and sell it, before the senior lender can complete the foreclosure. Of course, if necessary, you may have to reinstate the first lender to allow enough time for you to complete your foreclosure.

Should I reinstate the senior loan which is in foreclosure, or bid at it’s sale?

Reinstating the senior loan should require considerably less cash than bidding at its sale. If the loan has matured, then you may pay off the loan prior to the sale or bid at the sale.
If the senior lender filed a notice of default several months earlier, you may be able to save time by bidding at the senior’s sale. However there are some pitfalls to this strategy. The senior may delay his foreclosure; you have no control over when they may go to sale. File your own notice of default as soon as possible so that at least you are proceeding to your own sale. If you intend to bid at the senior’s sale, come to the sale early, bring sufficient certified funds to bid the amount of the debt plus your lien. You cannot credit bid the amount owed to you under your deed of trust; your standing as a bidder is the same as any others. If you fail to arrive on time for the sale, your lien may be eliminated.

Do I need the borrower’s permission to foreclose?

No. You already have their permission; they gave it when they signed the note and deed of trust.

What documents do I need to foreclose?

You will need to provide the trustee with the note and deed of trust, any modification or extension agreements, additional notes and any assignments. If an original document is lost, it may be necessary to provide a lost instrument bond. Consult with your trustee. You also need to provide the trustee with certain essential information, such as the unpaid balance of the note, the date to which the interest is paid, the reason for the default(such as failure to make the payment which became due on a certain date), information regarding any advances you have made, the last known residence or business address of the last known owner, and the property address. If you are not using the original trustee, a substitution of trustee must be signed and notarized by the beneficiary.

Why is an accurate “last known address” of the last known owner vital?

Failure to send notice to an accurate business or residence address of the last known owners may invalidate the foreclosure. Search all your records completely and carefully. If the borrower has more than one loan with your firm, review all sets of records. If the borrowers are married and you receive word from one of them that (s)he is no longer residing at the property address and you are provided with a new address, be sure to communicate that information to the trustee as soon as possible.

How long does it take to foreclose?

If there are no delays, a foreclosure will be completed in about four months. After the recording of the NOD there is a mandatory three-month waiting period before the trustee can publish the notice of trustee’s sale. Generally the sale will take place four weeks after the pre-publication period has ended. The date of the sale is influenced by the county where the property is located, the regular schedule of sales for that county and by the frequency of publication of the newspaper in which the trustee is required to publish. The trustee must also consider the newspaper deadlines for advertising and the time-necessary for preparation of the notice of sale and its delivery to the newspaper.

Who pays the foreclosure fee and costs?

If the borrower brings the loan current or pays it off, the borrower is responsible to the lender for the foreclosure fee and costs. Since the lender is obligated to pay the trustee, the lender should be sure to not overlook these foreclosure expenses. If the property is sold to an outside bidder at the foreclosure auction, the foreclosure expenses will be paid by the bidder. Only when the lender is the successful bidder at the sale will the lender not be able to look to someone else to recover the trustee’s fee and costs. Hopefully, when the property is resold, the lender can expect to recover their foreclosure expenses.

What is the fastest way to record the NOD?

You may send the trustee a pre-signed substitution along with the other documents, or the trustee can prepare one and return it to you for your signature. If you are to be regularly using a trustee, you might consider giving the trustee a limited power of attorney authorizing them to sign the substitution of trustee and the notice of default. Sending pre-signed substitutions or giving a limited power of attorney reduces the time between your decision to foreclose and the actual recording of the notice of default to as little as 24 to 48 hours.