Foreclosures in Georgia are usually nonjudicial, which means the bank can foreclose without filing a lawsuit in court or going in front of a judge. Once officially started, a Georgia foreclosure can proceed rather quickly. Fortunately, most homeowners are entitled to a 120-day preforeclosure period under federal law. But once this period expires, all the foreclosing bank typically must do is publish notice about the sale in a newspaper and send you a copy before selling the home to a new owner about a month later.
In this article, you’ll learn more about nonjudicial foreclosure procedures in Georgia, including your rights during and after the process.
Under federal law, in most cases, a loan servicer must wait until the borrower is more than 120 days' delinquent before officially starting a foreclosure. (12 C.F.R. § 1024.41). This preforeclosure period is an excellent time to submit an application to your servicer asking for an alternative to foreclosure. You might be able to stay in your home by working out a repayment plan or modification, for example, or give it up without going through a foreclosure in a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure.
Federal law also provides other protections to homeowners facing a foreclosure, like protection against dual tracking.
In Georgia, the bank provides the following types of notice during the foreclosure process.
No later than 30 days before the sale date, the bank must mail to the borrower a notice of its intent to foreclose that includes:
The bank also usually sends a notice informing the borrowers that they have ten days after receiving the notice to pay the loan's principal and interest to avoid liability for attorneys’ fees. The 10-day notice is often included with the 30-day notice of intent to foreclose. (Ga. Code Ann. § 13-1-11).
The bank must advertise the foreclosure sale in a newspaper for four weeks before the scheduled sale date. (Ga. Code Ann. § 9-13-140).
“Reinstating” is when a borrower gets caught up on the loan by paying the missed payments (principal and interest), plus fees and costs, to stop a foreclosure.
Georgia doesn't have a law that gives the borrower the right to reinstate the loan (except for high-cost home loans). But most Security Deeds do provide the borrower with this right. Check the paperwork you signed when you took out the loan to find out if you get the right to complete a reinstatement and, if so, the deadline for reinstating. (A Security Deed is basically a deed of trust. Read Nolo’s article to learn about the difference between a mortgage and a deed of trust.)
In some states, foreclosed borrowers can redeem (repurchase) the home within a certain amount of time after a foreclosure sale. In Georgia, though, state law doesn’t provide borrowers with a post-sale right of redemption.
When the total mortgage debt exceeds the foreclosure sale price, the difference is called a “deficiency.” Some states allow the foreclosing bank to seek a personal judgment, which is called a “deficiency judgment,” against the borrower for this amount. Other states prohibit deficiency judgments with what are called anti-deficiency laws.
Under Georgia law, the bank can get a deficiency judgment by filing a separate lawsuit after the foreclosure—but only if the bank reports the sale to a court within 30 days, and the court confirms it. (Ga. Code Ann. § 44-14-161).
If the homeowner does not move out after a Georgia foreclosure sale, the purchaser must first make a demand for possession, and then may begin eviction proceedings.
If you’re facing a foreclosure of your Georgia home, it’s a good idea to get as much information as possible about the process. To find out more about foreclosure procedures, including whether you have any potential defenses to a foreclosure, talk to a local foreclosure lawyer. It’s also a good idea to make an appointment to speak to a HUD-approved housing counselor, especially if you want to learn about different foreclosure avoidance options.