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The Foreclosure Process in Arizona

In Arizona, foreclosure can be a swift and simple procedure by a mortgage company.  Foreclosure is the legal process by which a mortgage company can obtain legal ownership of a property.  It relinquishes a home owner from any all right to the property and evicts the homeowner from the premises.

In most cases, foreclosure can begin a soon as a home owner is late with the mortgage payment.  If the payment is due on or before the first of the month, for example, the lender has every legal right to initiate foreclosure proceedings against the home owner.  

However, most institutional lenders will try to work out alternatives with a home owner in default before trying to repossess a home.  If a home owner works with his or her lender, the lender will an additional three month window on average before foreclosure is initiated.  For more information on pre-foreclosure workouts with a lender, click here.

If an alternative cannot be worked out between the lender and the home owner, the lender may begin foreclosure proceedings.  Because most home owners have a trust deed, the foreclosure timeline is simple and quick because it does not have to go to court to foreclose upon a home.

In Arizona, a lender must appoint its trustee, the person or entity that has the legal right to sell the home in a trustee sale, to handle the appropriate paperwork.  By law, the trustee must record in the county recorder's office a "Notice of Trustee's Sale".  This is the legal notice that the home is to be sold no sooner than 90 days from the recording date of the notice.  This notice must also be published a minimum of once a week for four consecutive weeks in a "newspaper of general circulation" in that county.  The trustee will mail a notice within five days of the recorded notice of trustee sale to the home owner and other parties affected by the foreclosure.

Assuming that the home owner has not reinstated the loan, the trustee will conduct the sale at a previously disclosed location.  Every bidder is required to provide a $1,000 deposit to bid on the home.  At such time, the home is sold to the highest bidder, which may include the mortgage company.  If the bidder successfully wins, he or she has until 5:00 p.m. of the following day (assuming that it is not Saturday or a legal holiday) to pay the remaining balance in cash or other acceptable forms of payment as determined by the trustee.  In addition to the forfeit of deposit, a highest bidder who fails to pay the amount bid by that bidder is liable to any person who suffers loss or expenses as a result, including attorney fees. 

Should the bidder fail to pay by 5:00 p.m. of the following day, his or her $1,000 deposit is forfeited and the second highest bidder is given until 5:00 p.m. of the next day.

Proceeds from the sale are used to pay off the primary lien (trust deed) against the home (as noted on the trust deed).  If any proceeds remain, payment is made to junior lien holders in order of priority.  In the event that any remaining balance is left over from the sale, the trustee will remit the balance to the ex-home owner.

Title is conveyed to the winning bidder by a trustee's deed.  This transfer of title relinquishes any right the previous owner has from reinstating the mortgage or redeeming the property after foreclosure.  In addition, the trustee's deed clears the title of any liens and encumbrances that are junior to the trust deed. 

In certain situations, junior lien holders may pursue a deficiency judgment against the previous owner to recover the balances owed.  However, an Arizona home owner may be protected by such lawsuits under the law.  For more information on anti-deficiency statutes, click here

Very few options exist under the law that prevent or impede a foreclosure.  For more information on preventing foreclosure, click here.

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The biggest mistake a person can make when facing foreclosure is giving up and abandoning the house.  Often times there are many options and alternatives that he or she is eligible for.  Don't let this happen to you.

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Arizona Foreclosure Counseling offers free foreclosure help and assistance, alternatives to losing your home, information on how to stop foreclosure in Arizona and negotiate with your lender, how to prevent foreclosure scams and offers alternatives for Phoenix home owners and throughout Arizona on their options and alternatives including special mortgage assistance programs