If you are a struggling homeowner facing a foreclosure in the state of Washington, you should get acquainted with the state’s foreclosure laws. For example, you should know that Washington law gives most homeowners the right to request a pre-foreclosure meeting with the lender to discuss options to avoid foreclosure. Also, once the foreclosure has started, a homeowner gets the right to cure the default (and reinstate the mortgage) for a certain amount of time before the sale. These are just a few of the key features of Washington’s foreclosure laws.
Below you’ll find a summary of some of the main aspects of Washington foreclosure law along with citations to the statutes so you can review the law yourself.
The citations to Washington’s foreclosure statutes are:
You can find the Revised Code of Washington on the Washington state legislature’s website at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw. If you need help finding the statutes, see Finding Your State’s Foreclosure Laws.
We’ve summarized important parts of Washington’s foreclosure laws below. You can find more detailed articles on various features of Washington foreclosure law in Nolo’s Washington Foreclosure Law Center.
Most Washington foreclosures are nonjudicial, which means the foreclosure takes place without court supervision. Judicial foreclosures, on the other hand, go through the court system. (Learn more about nonjudicial and judicial foreclosures.) Since the majority of foreclosures in Washington are nonjudicial, this article focuses on that process.
In Washington, a foreclosing lender must give one pre-foreclosure notice and two foreclosure notices to the defaulting borrower.
Notice of pre-foreclosure options. Before starting the foreclosure, the lender must contact the borrower to inform him or her about the opportunity to meet with the lender to try to work out an alternative to the foreclosure. Wash. Rev. Code § 61.24.031.
Notice of default. To begin the foreclosure, the lender or trustee (the third party that handles nonjudicial foreclosures) mails a notice of default to the borrower, as well as posts the notice in a conspicuous place on the property (or personally serves the notice of default on the borrower), 30 days before recording or serving a notice of sale. Wash. Rev. Code § 61.24.030.
Notice of sale. At least 120 days (or in some cases 90 days) before the sale, the trustee will:
The notice of sale must also be published in a newspaper. Wash. Rev. Code § 61.24.040.
Washington law provides protections similar to the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to any resident of Washington state who is a member of the national guard or a member of a military reserve component. Wash. Rev. Code § § 38.42.010 to 38.42.904. (Learn more about the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.)
“Reinstating” is when you catch up on the defaulted mortgage's missed payments (principal and interest) plus costs and fees in order to stop a foreclosure. (Learn more about reinstatement to avoid foreclosure.)
In Washington, you can reinstate the loan at any time prior to the 11th day before the sale. Wash. Rev. Code § § 61.24.040, 61.24.090.
In some states, you can redeem (repurchase) your home within a certain period of time after the foreclosure. In Washington, you can't redeem the home after a nonjuducial foreclosure. Wash. Rev. Code § 61.24.050. (To get details on redemption after a foreclosure in Washington, see Nolo’s article If I lose my home to foreclosure in Washington, can I get it back?)
When the total mortgage debt exceeds the foreclosure sale price, the difference is called a “deficiency.” Some states allow the lender to seek a personal judgment (called a “deficiency judgment”) against the borrower for this amount, while other states prohibit deficiency judgments with what are called anti-deficiency laws.
Deficiency judgments are not allowed following nonjudicial foreclosures in Washington. Wash. Rev. Code § 61.24.100. (For a summary of the deficiency law in Washington, see Washington Laws on Post-Foreclosure Deficiency.)
In Washington, the purchaser is entitled to possession of the home on the 20th day after the foreclosure sale. If the foreclosed homeowners don't leave, the purchaser may file a lawsuit to evict them from the home. (The purchaser shall have a right to summary proceedings to obtain possession.) Wash. Rev. Code § 61.24.060.