Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Texas Foreclosure Procedures

In order to set up a non-judicial foreclosure, the lender must do several things in order to have the ability to foreclosure their security interest, or what we call a Deed of Trust. First, the loan papers (or "documentation") must include an obligation to pay (usually called a Note, Real Estate Lien Note, Promissory Note, or Note with Vendor's Lien) and should also include the security agreement (usually referred to as a Deed of Trust). The Deed of Trust gives the lender the right to "foreclose" its security interest if the Obligor fails to pay. The Deed of Trust should appoint a "trustee" and must contain a "power of sale." The Deed of Trust should also give the lender the right to designate "Substitute Trustee." In Texas, the foreclosure is usually by way of a "non-judicial" foreclosure, or by way of the posting of the property for sale on the first Tuesday of the month.

The following steps contain the basic procedures that the lender must go through in order to get to the point where they may foreclose the lien:

1) Demand for Payment - once the Obligor defaults in the making of one or more payments, the lender must give notice of the default and demand the overdue payment or payments.

2) Notice of Intention to Accelerate - prior to being able to foreclose its lien, the lender must give notice of intention to accelerate. The Notice of Intention to Accelerate is usually combined with a demand for payment. The notice should give at least ten (10) days within which the Obligor can cure the default. If the property is the Obligor's "residence," then the Notice of Intention to Accelerate should give the Obligor at least twenty (20) days notice. After the appropriate time period has expired, then the lender is free to "post" the property for a non-judicial foreclosure.

3) Notice of Foreclosure - assuming that the Lender has a valid Deed of Trust and that the lender has appropriately moved to foreclose through the designated trustee or its "substitute" trustee, then after the expiration of time on the Notice of Intention to Accelerate, the lender can "post" the property for foreclosure. This is done with the giving of Notice of Foreclosure. The Notice must be posted at the Courthouse and must be send via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested to the last known address of the debtor. Because only the sending of the certified mail is required, it does no good to attempt to refuse delivery. You are only denying yourself the information contained in the Foreclosure Notice. The Notice must give the debtor at least 21 days notice of the foreclosure, and must inform the debtor of the time, date, and place of the foreclosure sale. Foreclosure sales take place at the location designated by the Commissioner's Court for each County in which the property (or any part of the property if the property is located in more than one County) is located.

4) Posting of the Property - the Notice of Foreclosure should then be "posted" at the designated location where notices are given at the County Courthouse (or other designated location). The Notice should be posted for the full twenty one (21) days prior to the sale and must be filed with the County Clerk's office.

5) Foreclosure Sale - The foreclosure sale should take place on the designated date between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., that date being the first Tuesday of the month of the foreclosure sale. The sale must begin within three (3) hours of the time stated in the notice of foreclosure. At the foreclosure sale, the trustee or substitute trustee must "strike off" or sell the property to the highest bidder. The trustee is not required to sell the property for any particular price. For this reason, if your property is being foreclosed upon you should at least attend the sale.

6) Substitute Trustees / Trustee's Deed - the final step in the process is for the Trustee (or Substitute Trustee if one was appointed) to prepare and file a Trustee's or Substitute Trustee's Deed to reflect that the property was sold. The Deed will then transfer title of the property to the purchaser or back to the lender, as the case may be. You should check the Deed to be sure that it accurately reflects what happened at the foreclosure sale.

Due to the complexity of these proceedings and the possibility of many pitfalls (or loopholes as many call them), if you have questions about the validity of any foreclosure sale, you should seek the advice of an attorney who is experienced in foreclosure litigation and foreclosure sales.

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