What Does a Decree of Foreclosure Mean?

by Rene Dale ; Updated July 27, 2017
When foreclosure looms, there is help available.

Difficult economic times often result in high foreclosure rates within a stricken area or across the country. Many home owners, who may be struggling to keep up with mortgage payments, will find themselves thrust into a new world of foreclosure legal jargon and paperwork. A decree of foreclosure and sale is something that home owners who are several months behind on their mortgage payments might find themselves faced with. In this case, it is necessary to understand what the term means, what happens after a decree of foreclosure is issued, what foreclosure resources are available that can provide help and how it can be avoided .

What is a Decree of Foreclosure?

A decree of foreclosure, also called a decree of foreclosure and sale, is a court-ordered announcement that discloses the amount of outstanding debt owed for the mortgage on a particular property and orders the forced sale of that property to collect the outstanding debt. The decree of foreclosure announcement is most often employed in states that require such judicial foreclosure procedures before a mortgage lender can sell a property to recover the outstanding debt owed for the property.

What Happens Next?

Once the decree of foreclosure is issued and adopted in court, it is awarded to the lender. The lender can then decide to have the property sold at a sheriff's sale. If the property is ordered to be sold during a sheriff's sale, there may a period of several months before the property is actually sold. Some states may allow a redemption period between the time the decree is issued and the time the property is actually sold. During this redemption period it may be possible to save the property by making arrangements for foreclosure assistance.

Foreclosure Assistance

There are several programs available to assist home owners facing foreclosure. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development lists these programs on its website. Refinance and modification programs can help borrowers lower their mortgage payments. Underwater programs can assist home owners who owe more than their home's value. There are also programs to assist home owners who have been unemployed and, therefore, have no income to make mortgage payments.

How to Avoid Foreclosure

The best way to avoid foreclosure and the issuing of a decree of foreclosure and sale is to make mortgage payments on time. For home owners who are facing financial difficulty, this is a simple premise that is seemingly impossible to carryout. However, most often, communicating with your lender and seeking financial assistance before you fall far behind on payments will help keep your home out of foreclosure. You may be able to qualify for loan modification or mortgage assistance before foreclosure proceedings ever begin. Being proactive about the situation will give you a better chance of saving your home from foreclosure.

About the Author

Rene Dale is a writer with more than a decade of financial services experience. She has worked in personal finance, mortgage lending, credit repair and financial analysis. Dale holds a Bachelor of Science in finance from the University of Tampa.

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