Understanding Foreclosures

A Brief Overview of the Foreclosure Process in Massachusetts

  1.  Banks rarely begin to foreclose after just the first month of defaulting on a mortgage payment. The mortgage lender or servicer generally sends the borrower a notice of default giving him/her 30 days to cure the default after the borrower is already several months in default.
  2.  In the event that the default is not cured or the borrower does not enter into some type of workout or loan modification with the bank, the next step is that the borrower is served with a 90-day right-to-cure letter as required by M.G.L. ch. 244, sec.35A. The bank cannot conduct any foreclosure activity during this 90-day period other than collecting principal and interest.
  3.  If the borrower is still in default after the 90-day period, the bank then files a complaint to foreclose with either the Land Court or the Superior Court.
  4.  The borrower will then be served with a Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act Notice. This is not a notice that the foreclosure has taken place. The foreclosure is still months away.
  5.  The Land Court issues an order of notice with a return day approximately 45 days later. At that time, the formal notice of foreclosure is served on the borrower by certified mail and published in a local newspaper one time. This allows anyone who is in the active duty military to file an opposition in the Land Court to temporarily halt the foreclosure until their tour of active duty ends. (This is not available as a defense to any other persons.) These notices are sometimes recorded at the Registry of Deeds. (You can see for yourself at Masslandrecords.com)
  6.  The foreclosure sale by public auction is scheduled after the return of service is filed and after the judgment is issued by the court. The bank serves the borrower with a notice of sale setting forth the exact date and time of sale as required by M.G.L. ch.244, sec.14. The Mortgagee also publishes it three consecutive weeks in a local newspaper and advertises it in the auction section of the local newspaper the Sunday before the actual date of sale. This notice of sale period lasts an additional 30 – 40 days.
  7.  This entire process from service of the 90-day right-to-cure letter to completion of the foreclosure sale is about 160 to 180 days.

It is imperative that you contact a lawyer as soon as you get the notice of the intention to foreclose in mentioned above. The consequences of waiting until the last minute can be grave and impair your ability to save your house. It is much easier to create a solution when you are only three or four months behind, rather than being seven to ten months behind.