Most foreclosures in Washington State don't involve the courts, so they are called nonjudicial foreclosures. If you fall behind in your mortgage payments, a notice of default may arrive at your home informing you that the foreclosure process has begun. If you don't act quickly to correct the problem, the lender may auction off your house.

What foreclosure means in Washington State

In Washington State, your mortgage or deed of trust usually allows the lender to auction your house to pay off your loan without filing a lawsuit. If your mortgage doesn't spell out the sale terms, Washington State law will apply, and your lender will not be able to auction your home until 190 days after your first notice of default. One month before the auction, you will receive a notice of sale with details including date, time, and place of the planned auction. From there, you have until 11 days before the sale to either pay your overdue balance plus the lender's expenses, or negotiate a deal with your lender.

Other types of foreclosure in Washington

If your mortgage or deed of trust has no power-of-sale clause that permits a nonjudicial foreclosure, note that your lender may opt for judicial foreclosure, in which they would sue you and get a court order to foreclose.

If your home is foreclosed

Having your home foreclosed has numerous consequences. Foreclosure will affect your credit rating, making it more difficult for you to buy a home in future. You will also likely be forced to move out of your home after the auction. Foreclosure means you will lose all the equity you may have built up in your home. Finally, if the auction doesn't bring in as much as you owed on the house, the lender may still sue you for the difference.

Stopping foreclosure

Even if you've received a default or sale notice, there is still time to avoid foreclosure. Be sure to do the following:

  • Open and read all mail from your lender. Don't be in denial-if you don't act, your lender will auction off your home.

  • Stay in your home. You may not qualify for help if you abandon the property.

  • Read your deed. Locate your loan documents and read them to learn what your lender may do in this situation.

  • Call your lender. Lenders can negotiate a settlement with you to resolve the default.

  • Contact an attorney. An attorney can help you develop a plan to avoid or stall the foreclosure process.

  • See a housing counselor. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers free or low-cost counseling to homeowners facing foreclosure.

Avoiding scams

If your home is in default, you may be contacted by real-estate speculators looking to buy your house cheap. Seek counsel before accepting any deal with a third party.

What the foreclosure process may cost

If you hire an attorney, you should expect to pay reasonable attorney fees. Attorneys' fees depend on their experience and areas of expertise. This is money worth spending, especially if there is equity in your home.

Additional resources:

Avvo's Foreclosure Resource Center

List of approved foreclosure counselors

Tips for Avoiding Foreclosure: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

You Can Avoid Foreclosure and Keep Your Home-Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

Related Legal Guides:

Bankruptcy vs. Foreclosure

Debt Negotiation

Bankruptcy or Debt Negotiation: A Comparison