What is the timeline on an Alabama foreclosure?

“What is the timeline on an Alabama foreclosure?”

What is the timeline on an Alabama foreclosure?My name is John Watts. I’m an Alabama consumer protection attorney and today we’re going to answer, “I’m afraid I may be foreclosed. What is the timeline or the timetable in Alabama for a foreclosure?”

It’s a great question. It’s one that we get quite a bit, so we wanted to address it in this video.

Keep in mind there are three stages of foreclosure in Alabama:

There is before the foreclosure.

There is the actual foreclosure sale itself.

Then there’s after the foreclosure.

Stage one is before the foreclosure.

What happens first in that stage?

Typically you get a “default letter.”

This comes from your mortgage company. It could come from a foreclosure lawyer, but almost always from your mortgage company. It will say, “You are in default.” That almost always is “for failure to pay.”

There are a few other reasons but we will focus on failure to pay. It says, “You have not made your payments and if you do not fix this or cure this within 30 days, then we’re going to move to the next step.”

What do you have to do to cure it?

Typically, you have to pay the past due amount. If you’re two months, or so, behind, which would be pretty early for a default letter, but we do see that. So you are 60 days behind. Let’s say your mortgage payment is $1500 a month. It says, “Look you are in default. To cure this you have to pay $3000.”

It will typically give you 30 days to cure it or fix it.

If you don’t cure it or fix it, then you move into what’s called the acceleration letter.

About half the time this is from the mortgage company. The other half of the time, it’s from a foreclosure law firm like Sirote and Permutt.  There’s about 4 or 5 firms in Alabama. This acceleration letter will say, “Look, you did not cure the default, so instead of having 30 years to pay off your mortgage, it’s all due right now.”

Within a certain period of time, it has to be at least 30 days, your mortgage company or the foreclosure lawyer will say, “We will conduct the foreclosure sale.”

To conduct the foreclosure sale, there has to be three weeks of advertisement in a paper in your county.

Let’s start to put all of this together. To get up until the foreclosure, you have to be at least 120 days past due.

Typically, you get that default letter, and the earliest I’ve seen is 60 days, normally it’s more like 90 days. Let’s say you get it at day 90, then they give you 30 days to cure it. Now you’re at 120 days. Then the acceleration letter comes and it has to set the foreclosure at least 30 days out.

That puts you at 150 days.

There’s a rule under RESPA, The Real Estate Settlement Practices Act, that says you cannot start the advertisement in the newspaper until you’re 120 days late. There’s a little bit of controversy over exactly how do we figure that. That’s the safe way to read that law. The foreclosure itself, which is stage two, is really going to be at least 120, more likely about 150 days past due to give you an idea on the time frame.

Stage two is the actual foreclosure.

This is literally the day of the foreclosure when the person is standing at the front entrance of the courthouse outside. Typically it’s a set of steps, and the person reads the auction, or conducts the auction.

Normally the mortgage company is the one that bids on the property. This has got to be at least 120 days past due, more likely we’re talking 150 days past due.

Occasionally we’ll see a mortgage company say, “We’re going to foreclose on you on day 60.” Not in Alabama you’re not, unless RESPA, that federal law does not apply. Again, you’re at least 120 days, more likely 150 days, when this takes place.

Stage three is after the foreclosure.

After the foreclosure, you typically get a “10 day vacate letter”, a letter that says, “You’ve got 10 days to vacate or leave the premises.” If you don’t do that, then you’re typically sued in what’s called an ejectment lawsuit. It’s kind of like an eviction lawsuit. That gives you the stages of the foreclosure.

So what do you do now if you are behind?

What do you do if you go, “I’m behind, and I just got the default letter” or “I’m afraid I’m about to get the default letter” or “maybe I got the acceleration letter” or “maybe I’m being advertised in the newspaper. What do I do?”

If you’re very close to the foreclosure date, then you may not have time to do this, but if you have just received the default letter, maybe you have not even received the default letter yet, then let me make a suggestion. We have a very comprehensive set of videos at www.ForeclosureDVD.com.

If you go there, you can enter in you name, email, phone number, and you’ll get access to those videos along with a workbook.

Let me say this, If you’re looking for a 5 minute answer to how to save your home, you will not like this.

It is very, very detailed. I believe the videos range from may 20 minutes to 45 minutes in length and they’re really built around the workbook that we send out. It’s only going to do you good if you’re very serious about it and you want to really put in some effort to save your home. Ultimately, this comes down to you either have to spend time or you have to spend money to save your home, really to do anything.

With a foreclosure, the odds are you’re going to have to spend time and spend money.

There’s no money investment required. There’s a pretty significant time investment, but if you’ll go through this video series, you’ll have a really good understanding of where you are and what you can do. I would be more than happy to speak with you if you’re in Alabama.  

We’ll do a short consultation, and we waive our consultation fee. Let’s figure out, “Okay what do you need?”

Sometimes the answer is, “You know what, you’re on the right path. Just keep on doing that.” Hopefully things will work out. If they don’t, get with me and we’ll talk about suing the mortgage company.

Other times we say, “You know what? It’s going to be better if you hire either my firm or some other lawyer that knows what he’s doing about this type of stuff so that you can have the best chance possible of saving your home.”

Check out that video series ForeclosureDVD.com. I think you’ll find it very useful and I hope that this video has been helpful. If you have questions, comments, you can put them below this video. You can fill out a form to contact us, or you can call us, 205-879-2447.

If this video has been helpful, we’d love for you to like it or leave a comment, or share it on Facebook or Twitter, or whatever you prefer to use. Let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for future videos. If we can help you in any way, just get in contact with us. I appreciate your watching this. Have a great day. Bye bye.

John Watts


  1. Michelle says:

    We have a mortgage that is in my father in laws name. Been paying it 19 years have 1 year left. He passed away 5 years ago. We have kept paying the mortgage and know we will have to deal with probate court when it’s paid off. If we get behind 45 days or less can they foreclose quickly because he is deceased? Or is it more or less days.

    • John Watts says:


      Normally the federal law RESPA says no foreclosure until 120 days behind. Does the mortgage company know your father in law passed away? They know you guys are paying the monthly payments?

      If you are starting to fall behind, my suggestion is reach out to the mortgage company to ask for loss mitigation help — this can include a loan modification.

      You may want to go to http://www.ForeclosureDVD.com — this is a free video training series with a detailed workbook that can help you.

      Best wishes and let me know if I can help you.

      John Watts

  2. Michelle says:

    They do know. It is a credit union. She said they could foreclose because he is deceased. At less than 60 days. I thought there might be a different law since he was deceased.

    • John Watts says:


      Occasionally small credit unions have different rules but normally the timeline is 120 days. Has a probate estate been opened up?

      Bottom line is you need to get with a lawyer pretty quickly as sounds like a number of issues at play here — if you are in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn — tell her we connected on our website.


      John Watts

  3. Shea says:

    If my house foreclosed and was then sold for a lower price than what I owed, how long does it take for the lender to come “knockin?” It’s been three years and I haven’t heard jack squat.

    • John Watts says:


      I’m assuming you are in Alabama.

      Typically the lender (or whoever bought the “deficiency”) would have 6 years from the date of the foreclosure or the acceleration. The acceleration occurs before the foreclosure.

      So probably not out of the woods yet.

      Pull your credit reports and see what is being said.

      Get with us about who the lender was, what your reports say, etc. and we can give you some thoughts.

      Call us (assuming you are in Alabama) at 205-879-2447. Ask for Randi.


      John Watts

  4. Melbin Gross says:

    We are more than 5 years behind on our mortgage. We’ve tried working with our lender. Our home is set for foreclosu
    re on the 27th. We’ve decided to do cash for keys. Is there any other options out there for us.

    • John Watts says:


      I’m assuming you are in Alabama.

      The other options would be:

      1. Reinstate your loan — hard with being that far behind
      2. Sue to have a court look at the foreclosure
      3. File bankruptcy
      4. Do loss mitigation — sounds like you have tried this but might be worth a final try if you want to save your home

      If you want some help, call us at 205-879-2447 (again assuming you are in Alabama) and we’ll help you think through your options.


      John Watts

    • LP says:

      Wait you can be 5 years behind and still live in your home?

      • John Watts says:


        Pretty unusual — most foreclosures happen at about the 120-180 day mark in Alabama.

        Sometimes we find the mortgage companies know they messed up and so they delay foreclosing.


        John Watts

  5. Mary M. says:

    Mr. Watts, I typically pay my mortage within 30 days of the month it is due. It’s how my pay periods run. My mortgage company starts harassing me after the 15th of each month (the payment would be 15 days late at that point) even going as far as sending me certified mail to remind me to pay it and sending personal messengers to my home to see if it’s occupied. Is this legal? I can understand if I was 60 days late, but I am never that late. I usually pay it by the last day of the month in which the payment is due. This particular company’s tactics are tiresome for me. They are relentless. Do I have any recourse?

    • John Watts says:


      Probably not — at least not in Alabama.

      The contract gives the due date and technically paying even one day after that is late (regardless of any late fees). It is annoying they do all of this.

      Couple of possibilities:

      1. They truly are concerned about you not paying on time and believe you may have abandoned the house. If so, then it makes sense what they are doing.

      2. This is designed to harass you and hope you don’t respond to the “are you still living there” letters so they can claim you abandoned the house and they take it.

      If possible, see if you can get back on track making payments on time. I know that’s tough — once we get a few weeks behind its hard to move up the payments. But if you can, that would be great.

      And get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state to see the specific details. For example, if you are in Alabama we would suggest sending some RESPA letters (Request for information and Notice of error) asking about their practice of sending the occupancy letter. We would see if this company is considered a debt collector under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) — if so we would have some options.

      Check your credit reports to make sure they are not reporting you as being late.

      Bottom line — you don’t want this to get out of hand so keep doing your research and get with a lawyer soon as you can to find out your options.

      If you are in Alabama call us at 205-879-2447 and let the receptionist know I asked you to call Randi in my office about this.


      John Watts

  6. Amanda Dobarro says:

    My loan company foreclosed on my home. We had no letters or notice on anything, just a side note in an email response to another email topic( received on June 22nd) our house was sold June 13th. I have seen nothing on any of it. Since then we have had several individuals come up on my property and leave paperwork from various sources. The people all say” Are you so and so? We have nothing to do with this. Call/contact(various names).” I have asked them to leave. They take their time and do not seem bothered my threats to call the police. It happened today after 5pm during dinner with my kids right there. So, I promptly called 911(no help), the lawyer(voicemail) then the loan company(OCWEN out of India). Please note that the very first time this happened(a week or so ago) OCWEN said it was a scam and not to have anything to do with them-to call the police. OCWEN changed my account number and said the creep’s visit was an attempt at fraud. Then today it happened again. Same lines. I called OCWEN and at first they hung up on me. After calling back the OCWEN rep said, no the lawyer was not with them and they would put in a code to stop the people from trespassing. After being put on hold several times, the rep then said yes those lawyers were the foreclosure lawyers and they could not stop the people coming on my property as it was “public news”. The rep also agreed that OCWEN did not give us any time to “buy back” our home and that they went straight to foreclosure/sale. I have not received any paperwork on any of it except for today. This latest “gift” was a filing in Jeff Co court(e-file) from the lawyer who was supposedly initially filing an eviction. I asked the rep several times if she knew she was contradicting herself and she got testy and said I had no paperwork to cover my story and so could not “dispute anything”. I said I was contesting the foreclosure on those and other grounds and she got angry and said ” On what grounds” I said no paperwork, you skipped the proper procedures and the address is wrong on the paperwork the creeps keep leaving on my property. She got real aggressive and bitey so I thanked her and hung up. I have no idea what to do. We thought we were the victim of fraud as OCWEN said and now those “fraudsters” are actually working with them. I have minor children and have lived here for 14 years. It doesn’t seem like they are following any of the proper channels. I don’t know really anything because I have received nothing from them. Just from the creeps. Can they do this? How do I stop the creeps and find out what the heck to do? I plan to move(no choice) but how long do I have and how can I fight this? This all stems from the original convicted fraudsters INDYMAC BANK my original mortgage company who illegally tried to foreclose on me way back when. Then they became ONEWEST and now OCWEN.

    • John Watts says:


      I’m assuming you are in Jefferson County, Alabama. Give us a call at 205-879-2447 and ask for Randi. She can look up the ejectment (eviction) case and see where you stand in the court case. Then we can see what your options are. Indymac/Onewest/Ocwen — all different companies but they all act the same if you know what I mean.

      We’ll be glad to help you — call us at 205-879-2447 thanks.

      John Watts

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