A situation in which a homeowner is unable to make principal and/or interest payments on his or her mortgage, so the lender, be it a bank or building society, can seize and sell the property as stipulated in the terms of the mortgage contract.
In some cases where homeowners can afford to continue making close to their mortgage payment amount, their mortgage company may qualify them for a mortgage modification. Sometimes it will be a temporary reduction in the rate or terms of the loan to reduce the payment amount.
If the loss of income or inability to make the payment was a temporary situation, a homeowner may be able to reinstate the loan by making additional payments to make up the past due amount.
Deed In Lieu
A Deed in Lieu of foreclosure is when a homeowner voluntarily gives the deed back to the bank. This may prevent the bank from going through the foreclosure process and in exchange, they will sometimes give up their right to a deficiency judgment. This solution only works in the case where there is one mortgage.
A Bankruptcy may stop a foreclosure and allow a homeowner to reorganize his debt and keep his property. If the homeowner is not able to make the payments this may not be the best option. It is very difficult to sell the property (short sale) or otherwise once the homeowner has filed bankruptcy.
When a homeowner owes more on a property than the current market value there is the option of a short sale. A negotiation is entered into with the homeowner's mortgage company or companies to accept less than the full balance of the loan at closing. A buyer closes on the property and the property is "sold short".