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.
In contrast, in six federal judicial circuits and the majority of nonjudicial foreclosure states (like California), due process has already been judicially determined to be a frivolous defense. The entire point of nonjudicial foreclosure is that there is no state actor (i.e., a court) involved. The constitutional right of due process protects people only from violations of their civil rights by state actors, not private actors. (The involvement of the county clerk or recorder in recording the necessary documents has been held to be insufficient to invoke due process, since they are required by statute to record all documents presented that meet minimum formatting requirements and are denied the discretion to decide whether a particular foreclosure should proceed.)
In a rent-to-own agreement, you (as the buyer) pay the seller a one-time, usually nonrefundable, upfront fee called the option fee, option money or option consideration. This fee is what gives you the option to buy the house by some date in the future. The option fee is often negotiable, as there’s no standard rate. Still, the fee typically ranges between 2.5% and 7% of the purchase price.
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).
In most jurisdictions, it is customary for the foreclosing lender to obtain a title search of the real property and to notify all other persons who may have liens on the property, whether by judgment, by contract, or by statute or other law, so that they may appear and assert their interest in the foreclosure litigation. This is accomplished through the filing of a lis pendens as part of the lawsuit and recordation of it in order to provide public notice of the pendency of the foreclosure action. In all U.S. jurisdictions, a lender who conducts a foreclosure sale of real property that has a federal tax lien must give 25 days notice of the sale to the Internal Revenue Service. Failure to give notice results in the lien remaining attached to the real property after the sale. Therefore, it is imperative the lender search local federal tax liens, so that if parties to the foreclosure have a federal tax lien filed against them, the proper notice to the IRS is given. A detailed explanation by the IRS of the federal tax lien process can be found.
This will ensure that you are not getting into a contract to purchase a home that you can’t afford. It’s important to give yourself a decent head start on the mortgage loan application process to see where you stand, as well as give yourself time to repair and/or fix any credit-related issues that might prevent you from obtaining a home loan. That’s because you need to be ready with an approved mortgage loan on the date specified in the rent-to-own contract.