"It can extend the timeline by two, three months," said Stephen Elias, author of "The Foreclosure Survival Guide." "It can be a tactical move."
The house goes up for auction. Traditionally this is done on the steps of a county courthouse, where anyone can bid.
A very-last-minute accommodation is possible, if it looks like the borrower can pay up or be approved for a loan modification.
"It's not uncommon for a sale to be postponed or canceled right there on the steps," Himes said.
Otherwise, the house is sold, usually to the lender for money owed if there are no other viable bidders.
Notice to quit
This can be issued as soon as the new owner records the trustee's deed, giving you three days to get out of the house.
It's possible you could leave with some cash in your pocket. The new owner might offer an incentive if you'll get out quickly, without stalling tactics, and leave the house in good shape. In the foreclosure world, this is called "cash for keys."
If you don't leave, the new owner can move on to. . . .
You are now being evicted.
This lawsuit gives you five more days to clear out.
But during that period you can ask for a trial, which is supposed to be held within 20 days of the request. The trial is a formality.
"You will absolutely lose," said Mark Bender, an attorney at Bet Tzedek who specializes in eviction matters.
Notice to vacate
The sheriff comes to your home and posts an official notice for you to move out.
"They nail it right to the door," Bender said, "just like you see on TV."
You have five days to leave, and this time it's final. The date and the time are on the notice.
The sheriff returns at the appointed time, and if you haven't left the house, he or she can forceably escort you out.
"Only the sheriff has the authority to do that," Bender said. "It can't be the new owner's big brother."
A locksmith, hired by the new owner, is generally on hand.
"Now the new owner can change the lock," Bender said.