Illinois Home Foreclosure Laws

Get a summary of the most important aspects of Illinois home foreclosure laws, procedures, and homeowner protections.

If you’re behind on your mortgage payments and you live in Illinois, you might be wondering what happens during a foreclosure in your state. Below you can learn about:

  • the foreclosure process in Illinois
  • how much and what type of notice you’ll receive before a foreclosure sale
  • whether you get the right to catch up on the payments (reinstate) to stop the process, and
  • whether you might face a deficiency judgment after the foreclosure.

You’ll also learn about significant protections for homeowners in foreclosure under federal law, including the 120-day preforeclosure period.

Protections for Homeowners Under Federal Law

Under federal law, in most cases, a loan servicer must wait until you're over 120 days' delinquent before officially starting the foreclosure process. (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 the following:

  • After you fall behind in payments, the servicer has to try to contact you to talk about the situation no later than 36 days after the delinquency. The servicer must attempt to contact you again within 36 days after each subsequent delinquency, even if it previously talked to you.
  • No later than 45 days after you miss a payment, the servicer has to let you know in writing about loss mitigation options (alternatives to foreclosure) that might be available. (12 C.F.R. § 1024.39).

How Illinois Foreclosures Work

Illinois foreclosures are judicial, which means they go through the state court system. To begin the process, the foreclosing bank files a lawsuit. You’ll get notice of the lawsuit when you’re served a summons and complaint, along with a notice advising you about your rights during the foreclosure process. (735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/15-1504.5). You generally have 30 days to file an answer with the court.

If you don’t respond to the suit, the court will enter a default judgment giving the foreclosing party permission to sell the home at a foreclosure sale. By contrast, you can raise one or more defenses by filing an answer. The foreclosing bank might then ask the court to grant summary judgment. A summary judgment motion asks that the court grant judgment in favor of the bank because there’s no dispute about the important aspects of the case. If the court grants summary judgment for the lender—or you lose at trial—the judge will order the home sold at a foreclosure sale. A notice of sale must be published three times between 45 and seven days before sale and mailed to borrower at least ten business days before the sale. (735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/15-1507, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 113).

Reinstating the Mortgage Loan Before the Foreclosure Sale

“Reinstating” is when a borrower catches up on a defaulted mortgage's missed payments, plus fees and costs, to stop a foreclosure. Under Illinois law, the borrower may reinstate the mortgage loan within 90 days after the borrower has been served with a summons or by publication, or has otherwise submitted to the jurisdiction of the court. (735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/15-1602).

Though, as a practical matter, many banks and servicers allow the borrower to reinstate at any time prior to the sale.

Right of Redemption in Illinois

Some states allow the borrower to redeem the home (reclaim it) within a specific period after a foreclosure. Illinois law provides a general right to redeem before the sale and a special right to redeem after the sale.

General Right to Redeem

In Illinois, the borrower can redeem the home until the later of:

  • seven months after receiving the summons of the foreclosure action (or after being served by publication if the foreclosing bank is unable to serve the foreclosure papers personally), or
  • three months after the date that the court enters the foreclosure judgment. (735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/15-1603).

To redeem before the sale, you'll have to pay off the full amount of the loan, plus various costs.

Special Right to Redeem

Illinois law also provides a special right to redeem if:

  • the mortgage holder buys the home at the foreclosure sale, and
  • the sale price was less than the total debt owed (including principal, interest, foreclosure fees, and costs).

In this situation, the borrower may redeem within 30 days after the court confirms the sale by paying the foreclosure sale price plus interest and costs. (735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/15-1604). (To get details on redemption rights in Illinois, see Nolo’s article If I lose my home to foreclosure in Illinois, can I get it back?)

Deficiency Judgment Laws in Illinois

When the total mortgage debt exceeds the foreclosure sale price, the difference is called a deficiency. Some states allow the bank to seek a personal judgment—called a deficiency judgment—against the borrower for this amount. Other states prohibit deficiency judgments with anti-deficiency laws.

In Illinois, the foreclosing party can get a deficiency judgment as part of the foreclosure action if:

  • the foreclosure complaint is personally served to the borrower, or
  • the borrower is not personally served, but enters an appearance in the foreclosure action. (735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/15-1508). (For a summary of the deficiency law in Illinois, see Illinois Laws on Post-Foreclosure Deficiency Judgments.)

After the Foreclosure Sale

The foreclosed homeowner can remain in the home for 30 days after the court confirms the sale. If you don’t move out, the bank can ask the sheriff to remove you from the prpperty. (735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/15-1701, 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/15-1508).

When to Seek Counsel

If you want to learn more about the foreclosure process in Illinois—or you want to find out if you have any potential defenses to a foreclosure—consider talking to a 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 loss mitigation options.

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