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Tips for responding to a foreclosure notice

Although a lender may have a legal right to collect on its secured interest, many equitable considerations also come into play what the property at issue is a principal residence. For that reason, state lawmakers have codified the procedures for foreclosure and redemption of mortgages in Massachusetts. For both buyers and sellers, it is important to consult with a real estate attorney to plan for this contingency. 

For starters, it is important to note that a foreclosure proceeding does not always involve the court's involvement. If the mortgage document contains a power-of-sale clause, a lender generally has the right to foreclose on property in the event of the borrower's default. 

Such a non-judicial foreclosure still contains certain procedural requirements, however. One such borrower protection is a notice of foreclosure by sale. The notice must be recorded in the county where the property is located and also served on the borrower by registered or certified mail at least two weeks before the scheduled foreclosure sale date. In addition, the lender must publish notice of the upcoming foreclosure sale for three weeks in advance in a local newspaper, generally in the same county as the property's location.

However, some lenders may choose to go to court to protect their interest. This lawsuit, known as a judicial foreclosure, requires the court to issue a final judgment of foreclosure before the property is auctioned off. Public notice of the upcoming foreclosure is provided via the filing of a lis pendens with the registry of deeds. The document also serves as a cloud on the title to prevent the borrower from selling the property before the foreclosure sale.

Source: Massachusetts Judicial Branch, "Massachusetts Law About Foreclosure"

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