The foreclosure process is a mystery to a lot of homeowners. So here’s a timeline that explains how foreclosure by advertisement works (as opposed to foreclosure by lawsuit, which is rare, and has a completely different timeline). Keep in mind that your timeline may vary, sometimes by a lot.
Month 0: You miss a payment. The whole process kicks into motion when you can’t make payments on your mortgage anymore, or decide not to make payments. At first the mortgage lender might start calling you or writing you letters. The lender might also reach out to see if you need assistance or if you’re eligible for a loan modification. At some point you’ll receive a default, or “intent to foreclose” letter. But remember that from this point, you still have a lot of time before the foreclosure actually happens.
Month 3: Your case is sent to an attorney. It’s usually about three months of missed payments before your file is sent to a foreclosing attorney. It could be less, it could be more. The attorney might take a couple of tries to get you to start making payments again, usually by calling you or writing threatening letters.
Month 4: Service and publication. In foreclosure by advertisement, the lender must serve you with foreclosure papers. The papers will tell you the date of the sheriff sale, which must be at least six weeks in the future. Then the lender has to publish a foreclosure notice in the newspaper for six consecutive weeks. If the lender skips any of these steps, or doesn’t complete them correctly, the foreclosure may later be attacked in court.
Month 6: The sheriff’s sale. The sheriff’s sale is a really important date, for two reasons. First, it is the last date you can bring your mortgage current in order to stop the foreclosure. After the sale, it might not be enough just to pay the lender the amount you’re behind.
Second, after the sheriff sale is completed, we can no longer use bankruptcy to help you catch up on your mortgage. If your sheriff’s sale is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Monday, and we file your bankruptcy at 9:59, the sale is void. If it’s filed at 10:01, we’ve missed our chance.
Under Minnesota law, a homeowner can also delay a sheriff sale one time for five months, in exchange for a shortened redemption period to five weeks (see below). This must be done between the date the sale is first published and 15 days prior to the sale. The process isn’t all that easy, so don’t wait until the last minute if you want to postpone your sale.
Month 12: The end of the redemption period. The redemption period is a six month period starting from the date of the sheriff’s sale. During the redemption period, you can continue living in your home. By this time, it’s too late to get the mortgage current by paying past-due payments, but you can “redeem” the property by paying the entire sheriff’s sale amount plus interest and fees anytime before the redemption period expires.
Month 13: Eviction. Eviction is the final step in a foreclosure. After the redemption period has ended, if the lender wants get you out of the house, it must file for an eviction in court. This usually takes about a month to complete. People don’t usually like to be evicted, so most people move out of the house on their own sometime after the redemption period ends.