Usually a lender obtains a security interest from a borrower who mortgages or pledges an asset like a house to secure the loan. If the borrower defaults and the lender tries to repossess the property, courts of equity can grant the borrower the equitable right of redemption if the borrower repays the debt. While this equitable right exists, it is a cloud on title and the lender cannot be sure that they can repossess the property. Therefore, through the process of foreclosure, the lender seeks to immediately terminate the equitable right of redemption and take both legal and equitable title to the property in fee simple. Other lien holders can also foreclose the owner's right of redemption for other debts, such as for overdue taxes, unpaid contractors' bills or overdue homeowner association dues or assessments.
The mortgage holder can usually initiate foreclosure at a time specified in the mortgage documents, typically some period of time after a default condition occurs. In the United States, Canada and many other countries, several types of foreclosure exist. In the US for example, two of them – namely, by judicial sale and by power of sale – are widely used, but other modes are possible in a few other U.S. states.
Nevertheless, in an illiquid real estate market or if real estate prices drop, the property being foreclosed could be sold for less than the remaining balance on the primary mortgage loan, and there may be no insurance to cover the loss. In this case, the court overseeing the foreclosure process may enter a deficiency judgment against the mortgagor. Deficiency judgments can be used to place a lien on the borrower's other property that obligates the mortgagor to repay the difference. It gives lender a legal right to collect the remainder of debt out of mortgagor's other assets (if any).
Another drawback could be liens recorded against the property that will become your problem after title transfer. Some investors who buy at trustee sales pay for a title search in advance to avoid this problem. These guys who show up to bid on the courthouse steps are professionals, and they buy foreclosures at auction as a business. They hope to buy the foreclosure at a low price to make a nice profit when they later flip the home. You do not need to hire a real estate agent to buy a foreclosure at the auction, but you do need to know what you are doing to compete with the pros.
There are exceptions to this rule. If the mortgage is a non-recourse debt (which is often the case with owner-occupied residential mortgages in the U.S.), lender may not go after borrower's assets to recoup his losses. Lender's ability to pursue deficiency judgment may be restricted by state laws. In California and some other US states, original mortgages (the ones taken out at the time of purchase) are typically non-recourse loans; however, refinanced loans and home equity lines of credit are not.
^ Associated Press. "Sharp Rise in Foreclosures as Banks Move in - Business - Real Estate – Msnbc.com." Msnbc.com - Breaking News, Science and Tech News, World News, US News, Local News- Msnbc.com. NBC News, 13 October 2011. Web. 4 December 2011."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-03. Retrieved 2011-12-06. nbc news, business-real estate; Reviewed 3013-07-20
For a developing country, there is a high rate of foreclosures in South Africa because of the privatisation of housing delivery.[neutrality is disputed] One of the biggest opponents of foreclosures is the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign which sees foreclosures as unconstitutional and a particular burden on vulnerable poor populations.[undue weight? – discuss]
In 22 states – including Florida, Illinois, and New York – judicial foreclosure is the norm, meaning the lender must go through the courts to get permission to foreclose by proving the borrower is delinquent. If the foreclosure is approved, the local sheriff auctions the property to the highest bidder to try to recoup what the bank is owed, or the bank becomes the owner and sells the property through the traditional route to recoup its loss. The entire judicial foreclosure process, from the borrower's first, missed payment through the lender's sale of the home, usually takes 480 to 700 days, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The mortgagor may be required to pay for Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, for as long as the principal of his or her primary mortgage is above 80% of the value of his or her property. In most situations, insurance requirements guarantee that the lender gets back some pre-defined proportion of the loan value, either from foreclosure auction proceeds or from PMI or a combination of those.
If a property fails to sell at a foreclosure auction or if it otherwise never went through one, lenders — often banks — typically take ownership of the property and may add it to an accumulated portfolio of foreclosed properties, also called real-estate owned (REO). Foreclosed properties are typically easily accessible on banks' websites. Such properties can be attractive to real estate investors because in some cases, banks sell them at a discount to their market value, which of course, in turn negatively affects the lender. (See more on this here: Buying a Foreclosed Home).
"Strict foreclosure" available in some states is an equitable right of the foreclosure sale purchaser. The purchaser must petition a court for a decree that cancels any junior lien holder's rights to the senior debt. If the junior lien holder fails to object within the judicially established time frame, his lien is canceled and the purchaser's title is cleared. This effect is the same as the strict foreclosure that occurred in English common law of equity as a response to the development of the equity of redemption.
In United Kingdom, foreclosure is a little-used remedy which vests the property in the mortgagee with the mortgagor having neither the right to any surplus from the sale nor liability for any shortfall. Because this remedy can be harsh, courts almost never allow it especially if a large surplus is likely to be realised, furthermore when a substantial surplus is unlikely to be realised then mortgagees are disinclined to seek foreclosure in the first place since that remedy leaves them no recourse to recover a shortfall. Instead, the courts usually grant an order for possession and an order for sale, which both mitigates some of the harshness of the repossession by allowing the sale while allowing lenders further recourse to recover any balance owing following a sale.
In other words, to challenge an allegedly wrongful foreclosure, the borrower must make legal tender of the entire remaining balance of the debt prior to the foreclosure sale. California has one of the strictest forms of this rule, in that the funds must be received by the lender before the sale. One tender attempt was held inadequate when the check arrived via FedEx on a Monday, three days after the foreclosure sale had already occurred on Friday.
Rent-to-own agreements should specify when and how the home’s purchase price is determined. In some cases, you and the seller will agree on a purchase price when the contract is signed – often at a higher price than the current market value. In other situations, the price is determined when the lease expires, based on the property's then-current market value. Many buyers prefer to “lock in” the purchase price, especially in markets where home prices are trending up.