How Long Does a Foreclosure Take?

A foreclosure is one of the worst potential outcomes of owning a home. Not only will the entire foreclosure proceedings be filled with stress, but at the conclusion, you’ll be losing your home. Even worse is that a foreclosure notice will appear on your credit report for seven years, which will make it virtually impossible to get another mortgage. 

The overall length of a foreclosure can vary significantly based on two key factors: the state that you live in and the type of foreclosure being pursued. The exact process will vary based on these factors but follow a similar pattern with specific stages. Stopping a foreclosure will only get more difficult as each stage is completed, so it’s best to take action as soon as you find yourself in trouble financially

What Is the Foreclosure Process? 

The overall length of a foreclosure will change based on several key factors, but there are a few stages involved that can help provide an idea of how long it will take. The first thing to know is that there are two separate types of foreclosure: judicial and non-judicial. 

A judicial foreclosure is the most common type of foreclosure and is legal in all 50 states. This type of foreclosure gets its name due to strict requirements that the local courts must be involved in nearly all stages. 

A non-judicial foreclosure is the opposite and can be handled with only a minimal amount of involvement by the courts. There are still legal procedures that must be followed, but they are more notification instead of seeking permission. 

The exact details of a foreclosure will vary, but the overall process will include these specific stages:

The Beginning: Missing Mortgage Payments

  • The foreclosure process technically starts when the first mortgage payment is missed. Most lenders will give you a few days to make the payment but might start charging late fees after a week or two. They will start to reach out and attempt to notify you that they haven’t yet received the monthly payment. 
  • The mortgage will be considered in default when the fourth straight payment is missed. That will take place roughly 90 days past the date of the first missed payment that started the process. 

Notice of Default and Delinquency

  • A notice of default can be issued after the loan has become 90 days past due and will indicate that the lender intends to foreclose on the property. You will then have 30 days to make payments and bring your mortgage current. Otherwise, foreclosure proceedings will continue. 
  • Federal law prohibits foreclosures from starting unless the borrower is at least 120 days delinquent. After this period of time has passed, the lender will be permitted to take legal action that will escalate the foreclosure proceedings.

For judicial foreclosures, the lender will need to file a lawsuit with the local court, and each additional step will need to be ruled on by a judge. For non-judicial foreclosures, the lender will only need to file documents indicating their intentions and provide proof that they followed all of the state laws up to this point. 

Trustee Sale and Auction

  • A public notice of trustee sale will be posted that will inform the general public that the property will be auctioned. A specific time, date, and location will be established and the information will be advertised to entice potential buyers. 
  • The auction will take place on the date that’s been set and the lender will create a minimum bid. They will generally calculate an amount that factors in the remaining debt of the mortgage, any unpaid taxes, and the overall value of the property.

Ownership will be transferred to the highest bidder as soon as they make payments in accordance with the agreement. If no bids are made, then ownership will be transferred to the mortgage lender.

Final Step: Eviction

Regardless of whether or not the property is sold, you will be ordered to vacate the home if you haven’t already or face eviction. The exact amount of time can vary. However, if you don’t move out in the specified time, then the local sheriff’s department will physically remove you and impound your belongings. 

How Long Does It Take To Complete a Foreclosure? 

There are too many factors involved to be able to give a proper estimation for how long that it will take for a foreclosure to be completed. The state that you live in and the type of foreclosure can result in a very significant total amount of time to get through a foreclosure. 

For example, since non-judicial foreclosures don’t require the approval of courts, they will typically be much faster than judicial foreclosures. However, these types of foreclosures are only permitted in a little over half of all states. 

There really is no way to accurately estimate how long a foreclosure might take. According to recent data, the average foreclosure time in the United States was around 930 days. However, this average is a little bit misleading when you view the states with the shortest and longest foreclosure times in the second quarter of 2021.

These states represent the wide variety of foreclosure times:

  • Wyoming - 173 days
  • Arkansas - 253 days
  • Tennessee - 270 days
  • Virginia - 280 days
  • Mississippi - 292 days
  • New Jersey - 1,471 days
  • Wisconsin - 1,587 days
  • Indiana - 1,617 days
  • New York - 1,822 days
  • Hawaii - 3,068 days

How Can You Avoid Foreclosure? 

It only gets more difficult to avoid a foreclosure once the process has started. After the first missed payment, you will most likely be required to pay late fees and other additional charges to your lender. These fees will continue to compound over time and only get more expensive. 

If possible, you should take action in the months before you miss a payment in order to lower your monthly payments. Seeking out a roommate, refinancing your loan, or entering into a co-investment with a third party are all ways that you can avoid triggering a foreclosure and stay in your home. 

Taking Action

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has left a lot of people on unstable financial grounds with an uncertain economic future. Foreclosures are expected to hit record highs until things can finally return to normal. If you start to miss payments and trigger foreclosure proceedings, you might have a very difficult time stopping it, and there’s no telling how much time you’ll have before being evicted. 

It’s best to avoid the process altogether if you can. If you are struggling to make your current mortgage payments, you should start taking action sooner rather than later. Get a free proposal from Balance Homes today to see if you qualify to be an investment partner. You could not only avoid foreclosure but stay in your home and lower your monthly occupancy payments at the same time. 


Foreclosure avoidance | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 

What is a mortgage? | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Average foreclosure timelines near length not seen since 2017 | National Mortgage News