Foreclosure glossary


Foreclosure is tough enough to face without trying to figure out the legal and governmental jargon. Here are definitions of terms you might come across, mostly adapted from the book “The Foreclosure Survival Guide,” by Stephen Elias.

Deed in lieu of foreclosure: An arrangement that allows the homeowner to turn over the deed of the house, stopping the foreclosure process and canceling the mortgage debt.

Forbearance: A suspension in payments allowed by the lender for a period usually no longer than a few months. The payments have to be made up later.


Foreclosure: The legal process by which a creditor with a claim on real estate forces a sale of the property.

Modification: A change in the mortgage to ease the payments, often by temporarily reducing the interest rate.

Nonjudicial foreclosure: A foreclosure done without court proceedings. Almost all foreclosures in California are of this type.

Notice of default: A legal notice from the lender giving the homeowner three months to make up past payments.

Reinstating a mortgage: Bringing a mortgage back on track by taking care of past payments, plus late fees and interest.

Repayment plan: Usually, a plan that allows the homeowner to make up missed payments over time.


Short sale: An arrangement in which the homeowner gets out from under a mortgage by selling the home for less than is owed on the mortgage. The lender accepts the amount, and the mortgage is canceled.