california foreclosure process

California Foreclosure Process Timeline: How Long it Takes & More

The California foreclosure process timeline begins with the first missed mortgage payment. How long does it take from there? Generally, the entire process takes about 200 days. This timeline lays out the stages of pre-foreclosure, which is the process that leads up to the final foreclosure sale date.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. We are not experts in legal matters, and readers are encouraged to seek the proper professional legal counsel for specific guidance.  

What is a foreclosure in real estate?

Foreclosure in real estate is a legal process to force the sale of a home or property in order to cover a debt, such as a mortgage. For example, when a borrower fails to keep up on their mortgage payments it can lead to the bank conducting a foreclosure.

What does pre-foreclosure mean?

The definition of pre-foreclosure is the legal process that occurs before a property is repossessed by the lender – when the foreclosure is finalized. Pre-foreclosure is initiated when the homeowner hasn’t made their mortgage payments for a specific number of days, which is established by the mortgage document.  

What is a pre-foreclosure? Pre-foreclosure refers to everything that happens in the lead-up to the foreclosure being finalized – when the lender takes possession of the property.

What does pre-foreclosure NOD mean?

NOD stands for notice of default. The NOD letter informs the mortgagee that the lender is planning on foreclosing in response to late payments. At this point, the lender must inform the borrower of the amount that’s required to stop the foreclosure and the due date. 

How long does foreclosure take in California?

How long does it take to foreclose on a house? The legal process of foreclosure usually takes about 200 days or more – with the first missed payment date qualifying as day one. A loan generally goes into default after about 90 days, and things pick up from there.

California foreclosure process timeline

The CA foreclosure process timeline is generalized because a range of factors come into play. Rather than judicial foreclosures, the vast majority in California are non-judicial foreclosures. This means that there is no need to go through the court system and that the process generally takes considerably less time. 

First missed payment (day 1)

The first day that the homeowner falls behind on their mortgage payment is considered the first day in the foreclosure process in California. Most lenders extend homeowners a grace period that allows them a bit of extra time to make the mortgage payment – along with paying a late fee – before moving on to the next steps in the foreclosure process. 

It’s important to note, however, that missing a payment can have a snowball effect. With late fees and the additional interest owed on the mortgage, foreclosure may not be far behind. 

The loan is considered in default (day 90)

Generally, mortgage payments are considered officially in default on day 90. While the number of days can vary from mortgage to mortgage, this is an important point in the foreclosure process.

At this juncture, you’ll only have about a month to set things right before things become far more serious and far more official. Additionally, you’ll have only about 90 days to cure the issue prior to auction. 

California notice of default (day 120)

Once your home has officially gone into default, the lending bank is required to file a notice of default with the court, which generally happens after 120 days. Within 10 days of filing, the lender is required to notify you about the default in an official letter that includes your legal rights and options. This generally involves making the payments you still owe – along with paying all interest and fees.

California notice of trustee sale (day 180)

After the notice of default letter is sent to the homeowner, they have about two months to make the necessary payments and stop the process. If you fail to do so, you’ll receive the notice of trustee sale from your lender at around day 180. This notice of sale lets you know that the bank is moving forward with your foreclosure case and will be putting your house up for auction.   

How to stop foreclosure in California? Until the actual trustee’s sale takes place and the home is sold, the law provides you with rights in the form of the homeowner’s bill of rights, which translate to options. And one of the best options may be selling to a real estate investor in Southern California. 

At SoCal Home Buyers, we pay cash for homes in California bankruptcy, and we make the process as painless as possible. Selling your home before the foreclosure process is finalized can help protect your credit rating and can be financially advantageous – in relation to any equity you may have in it.

Auction date set (day 200)

On about day 200, the lender can set the auction date for your house. A trustee sale is an open auction that allows the property to be sold to the highest bidder – generally with a minimum bid requirement involved. Once sold, the new owner can take immediate possession of the property, which makes addressing the issue of foreclosure prior to this auction date critical. 

Can I sell my house in foreclosure? Yes, you can, but you’ll need to take action prior to the auction date. When it comes to foreclosure in California, time is of the essence.

California foreclosure timeline chart

There are a range of factors that can affect your foreclosure timeline, but the basics include the following actions, which follow a set course that begins with the date you miss your first mortgage payment. 

DayActionWhat it means for you
1Your first missed mortgage payment                                                                                                                         Your first missed mortgage payment is the first step in the foreclosure process. if you never miss a payment, your lender can’t begin the foreclosure process.
90Your loan goes into default                                At about day 90, your loan will officially go into default.
120The California notice of default (NOD)                                     After about 120 days, the lender will send a NOD to the court – along with a letter sent as certified mail that notifies you of their action. 
180The California notice of trustee sale                        At about day 180, you’ll receive this new notice that lets you know the bank will be putting your home up for auction.
200The auction date                                                 The auction date will be set for at least 20 days later, and once the auction happens, it will be too late to save your home.

It’s important to note at this point that a short sale may also be an option. Both a short sale and a foreclosure end with the homeowner losing their home, but there are some advantages associated with a short sale that appeal to some homeowners. For more information, see our short sale vs foreclosure article.

A short sale is a voluntary process in which the borrower sells the home for less than what is owed on it. The lender has to sign off on the sale and accept the lower payment. Advantages include that it is a longer process that allows you to remain in your home for a longer period and affords more privacy. Additionally, it can have fewer consequences in terms of your credit. 

Foreclosure is an involuntary process that will likely have you out of your home in close to 200 days. Selling your home prior to the foreclosure being finalized – such as to a real estate investor – can have financial benefits and can help salvage your credit. 

Key takeaways on the California foreclosure timeline

The foreclosure procedure in California follows a careful path that begins with your first missed mortgage payment and marches forward from there. The fact of the matter is, however, that homeowners in California have legal rights – and options – in the face of foreclosure. At SoCal Home Buyers, we pay cash for homes even when they’re in the foreclosure process, and we have streamlined the buying process to just the following simple basics:

  1. Give us a call at 951-331-3844—or fill out the short form below—to request your fair cash offer.
  2. Await our prompt response to discuss your property in greater detail and schedule a one-time inspection that allows us to offer the highest amount possible.
  3. At the time of the inspection, our in-house inspector will quote you a fair cash offer, and if you’re on board, you can consider your home sold!
  4. Choose your closing date, and leave the rest to us. You can choose payment via check or wire transfer. It simply doesn’t get any easier.

Resources and California foreclosure laws you should know

Foreclosure law in California provides important protections for homeowners facing foreclosure in the state. Better understanding the legal basics can help you better understand your rights. Consider all the following:

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