The foreclosure process varies somewhat from state to state, and depends primarily on whether the state uses mortgages or deeds of trust for the purchase of real property. Generally, states that use mortgages conduct judicial foreclosures, using the court system to execute the foreclosure. States that use deeds of trust conduct non-judicial foreclosures, using an out-of-court procedure defined by state law.
To foreclose in accordance with the judicial procedure, a lender must prove in court that the mortgagor is in default. Once the lender has exhausted its attempts to resolve the default with the homeowner, the next step is to contact an attorney to pursue court action. The attorney contacts the mortgagor (homeowner) to try to resolve the default. If the mortgagor is unable to pay off the default, the attorney files a lawsuit against the mortgagor to establish the default amount and the right to have the collateral (home) sold and the sale proceeds applied towards the outstanding loan. The purpose of the action is to provide evidence of a default and get the court's approval to initiate foreclosure. In connection with the lawsuit, a lis pendens (lawsuit pending notice) is filed with the county clerk or other public property records repository. The lis pendens gives notice to the public that a pending action has been filed against the borrower in default to collect the defaulted debt, including having the collateral (home) sold.
Non-judicial foreclosures are based on deeds of trust that contain a power-of-sale clause. The clause enables the trustee to initiate a foreclosure sale of the collateral (home), without having to file a lawsuit or go to court. The trustee is typically required to issue a notice of default and notify the trustor (borrower) accordingly about the defaulted loan status. If the trustor does not respond, the trustee then initiates the steps for conducting the foreclosure sale of the collateral (home).