The home foreclosure process in Texas
Let’s face it: this is the worst economy that we’ve seen in our lifetime. Many hundreds of thousands of people are behind on their homes. In Harris County alone, nearly 3,000 homes are posted for foreclosure every month. What does it mean to be “posted for foreclosure”? How does the process work? Read on.
If you are one or two months behind on your mortgage, the number one thing you can do is maintain communication with your mortgage company. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. If you’ve tried to do this, you’ve probably noticed that you speak to a different person each time, that you have long hold times, and nobody seems to know what you talked about with them in a prior conversations. You can combat this by taking detailed notes of every conversation you have with them. Get the name and number of the person you spoke to, write down the date and as many notes of the conversations as you can. This will help you in all of your future conversations. If you’ve been emailing, make sure you keep a copy of each communication. You may even want to print them out.
When you are a couple of months behind, it’s pretty scary and the word “foreclosure” may have been tossed around a few times to scare you. When you are a couple of months behind, you are almost certainly NOT in the foreclosure process just yet.
You’ll know the foreclosure process has begun when you receive something called a “notice of acceleration”. This almost always comes from the mortgage company’s lawyers. Although this letter usually comes via certified mail and regular mail, sometimes it only comes certified. Open your mail. It’s unbelievably common for folks who are struggling financially to stop opening the mail. It’s a normal reaction to being overwhelmed with debt and battered by collectors. It’s a normal reaction, but it can get you in a lot of trouble. If you don’t open your mail, you won’t know the foreclosure process has begun. The only way you can protect yourself is with this knowledge. If you ignore the process, your home could end up getting sold.
If you get a notice of acceleration and you think you can come up with what you are behind, call the lender or the law firm who sent you the notice. Follow the suggestions we gave you when you’ve just gotten a couple of months behind: keep notes on everything! Especially when it’s reached a lawyer, do not expect them to call you back when they say they will. You must stay on top of it, calling every day if you have to, and demand a written reinstatement quote.
Once you have the reinstatement quote, you need to be very honest with yourself regarding whether you can come up with the money to reinstate your mortgage. Be very very wary of companies who solicit your business, offering to help you get your mortgage reinstated. There is nothing they can do for you that you can’t do yourself. Nearly every day we hear from people who are facing foreclosure who have paid thousands of dollars to these companies thinking they are going to have their mortgage modified. If you want to pay someone to help you fill out the forms and talk to lenders for you, that’s fine. Be warned: anyone who promises you results is lying. They cannot guarantee the results and it’s your obligation to stay on top of things to make sure your home is not sold at foreclosure. With respect to getting your mortgage modified, before paying anyone, simply go to the government’s website regarding the modification programs available: https://www.hmpadmin.com/portal/index.jsp
Again, I cannot stress enough that we speak with people nearly every day who are simply waiting on a modification. They wait and wait and wait, completely frazzled and stressed out that they might lose their homes. Instead of waiting, why not find out how chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney can help you save your home and allow you to get caught up in a way that is honest, straightforward and overseen by a judge?
After you receive the notice of acceleration, the next step in the foreclosure process is to receive something called a “Notice of Substitute Trustee’s Sale” or “Notice of Foreclosure Sale” or “Notice of Sale”. In Texas, homes can only be sold at foreclosure on the first Tuesday of every month, even if that Tuesday is a national holiday. You must be given at least 21 days notice of the sale. This notice will almost certainly come from the lender’s attorney and will be sent certified and regular mail. You will know for sure that you’ve been posted for foreclosure because the notice is a public record and you’ll be overwhelmed with marketing letters. Just like when you receive the notice of acceleration, IGNORE the people who guarantee you results and claim to be certain they can get your home loan modified.
If you are being threatened with foreclosure or need help dealing with creditors, we are here to protect your rights. We offer a free confidential no-obligation consultation to discuss your personal situation. Please call (713) 961-9477 for immediate assistance or feel free to use our form below.
[see also our article on judicial foreclosures in Texas]