Oregon Foreclosures Likely Shifting to Judicial Process

Oregon foreclosures of residential properties will likely be shifting from nonjudicial to judicial process, and the shift has already begun with some servicers, namely Wells Fargo and its subsidiaries. Oregon is one of 24 states that provides a nonjudicial foreclosure process, which is how most delinquent residential mortgages are foreclosed since this has been a faster and cheaper process for lenders.

One reason for the shift to more judicial court actions is because judges have started blocking nonjudicial foreclosures for failure of lenders to record ownership history of the trust deeds, as required for nonjudicial foreclosure. The shift will mean that the process will possibly take longer to clear titles following the sheriff sales. It will also take lenders considerable time to review and shift gears on pending foreclosures. Lenders may decide the cost and time expense are worth more certainty with the judicial process.

The good news for borrowers subject to the judicial foreclosure process is they will now have a judge to hear their complaints, if they challenge the filing. This right is currently unavailable unless a lawsuit is filed by the borrower to stop a nonjudicial process from continuing forward. However, under a judicial foreclosure, if homeowners don’t challenge a filing, the lenders could get a sale date more quickly and possibly expedite the process. It also does not require the recordation of beneficiary history, so it can result in cleaning up any messy title situations the lender may face. This means a defaulting borrower will need a good defense in order to realistically challenge a judicial foreclosure, but the court will have to make a decision before the foreclosure can happen. There could be more opportunities for workouts and settlements too.

One huge risk is that, currently, Oregon law protects homeowners from being pursued by lenders for their losses for homes that sold for less than the balance on the loan. However, if a lender pursues judicial foreclosure, if someone moves out of the home before the foreclosure complaint is filed, they could lose this protection and may be personally liable for the deficiency. (This problem is going to be fixed by a new law that goes into effect soon). Homeowners will also lose the right to cure, which gives them up to 5 days prior to a nonjudicial auction sale date to pay the missed payments and lender fees to end the foreclosure; but they will gain the right of redemption under the judicial process which gives them up to six months to repurchase the home for what it sold for at the foreclosure sale. This could mean homes will be vacant for longer periods and be difficult to immediately resell.