Home foreclosure in Georgia can happen very quickly – in a worst case scenario, your mortgage company can complete a foreclosure and take title to your house in less than 40 days (although most foreclosures take about 3 months start to finish).
Georgia law allows for what is called “non-judicial” foreclosure, meaning that your lender does not have to file anything in court to declare your loan in default and seize your property. Instead, the mortgage company only has to send you a written notice of the pending foreclosure, advertise the foreclosure in a local newspaper, then sell your house on the first Tuesday of the next month at the courthouse steps.
The bottom line: if you start missing mortgage payments, you are at immediate risk for foreclosure.
What Can You Do to Stop Foreclosure?
Once your mortgage company hires a foreclosure law firm to start the foreclosure process, you have only 3 options to save your house, and, because the process moves so quickly you need to act fast.
Option 1 – refinance your mortgage to get the foreclosing lender paid off. The foreclosing lender will no longer have a valid lien on your property and the foreclosure will be canceled. The question here is whether you can qualify for a new mortgage and whether you can get a refinance done fast enough to keep your house.
Option 2 – negotiate a payment plan with your lender. The federal government has put some pressure on lenders to work with struggling borrowers so you may have an opportunity to cure the default directly with the lender. Your odds of a workout are much better if you start negotiating before the loan has been accelerated and the foreclosure process started. Also, beware of lenders who string you along until a day or two before foreclosure day before telling you that you do not qualify. Also beware of foreclosure rescue scams – companies that claim to have special arrangements with lenders rarely do what they say they will do.
Option 3 – file a challenge to the foreclosure in Superior Court and convince a county Superior Court judge to block the foreclosure. This option is expensive and you will need valid legal grounds (i.e. the lender committed fraud, the lender failed to apply your payments, etc.).
Option 4 – file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure
How Chapter 13 Works to Save Your Home from Foreclosure
Chapter 13 stops a pending foreclosure because the minute we file your case, the automatic stay of bankruptcy stops all pending creditor action. (Note that the automatic stay may not apply if you have previously filed bankruptcy, so ask your lawyer.) Even if the foreclosure lawyer “sells” your house on the courthouse steps without knowing that we have filed Chapter13, the sale will be reversed because of the bankruptcy filing.
Not only does Chapter 13 stop the foreclosure but it allows us to set up a payment plan to cure the arrearage (missed payments) over the next five years. We do have to include your other creditors in the Chapter 13 so you will end up with one payment to the Chapter 13 trustee in addition to your regular mortgage payment.
In many cases we can reduce the total amount of debt that you owe and we can usually improve your cash flow by modifying and reducing your total monthly payment obligation.
If you have a second mortgage or HELOC, there are even some circumstances where we can eliminate that second mortgage by filing something called a lien strip.
How You Can Learn More About Chapter 13 Protection
If you are falling behind on your mortgage, or even if you have already received a foreclosure notice, we can help you. Attorneys Jonathan Ginsberg and Susan Blum are experienced personal bankruptcy lawyers and we offer our clients knowledgeable and responsive service. Please give us a call at 770-393-4985 or email us at email@example.com.
Georgia mortgage foreclosure law videos on Ginsberg Law YouTube channel