What Is Foreclosure?
Foreclosure is the legal process by which a lender attempts to recover the amount owed on a defaulted loan by taking ownership of and selling the mortgaged property. Typically, default is triggered when a borrower misses a specific number of monthly payments, but it can also happen when the borrower fails to meet other terms in the mortgage document.
The foreclosure process derives its legal basis from a mortgage or deed of trust contract, which gives the lender the right to use a property as collateral in case the borrower fails to uphold the terms of the mortgage document. Although the process varies by state, the foreclosure process generally begins when a borrower defaults or misses at least one mortgage payment. The lender then sends a missed payment notice that indicates it hasn’t received that month’s payment.
How does a foreclosure affect your credit?
A foreclosure entry typically appears on your credit report within a month or two after the lender initiates foreclosure proceedings. The entry remains on your credit report for seven years from the date of the first missed payment that led to the foreclosure. After that, it is deleted from your report.
Foreclosures have a considerable negative impact on credit scores, but as with all derogatory credit report entries, the number of points by which they'll lower your score depends on many factors. These include what your score was before foreclosure and the number of negative entries on your credit report.
Foreclosures typically occur only after you miss at least four successive monthly payments (120 days of delinquency). Missed payments bring down credit scores more than any other negative entries, so your credit scores typically will have dropped significantly even before a foreclosure appears on your credit report. (If you are missing payments on other debts as well, this has a compound effect.)