Mortgage foreclosure simply means the deed can only be foreclosed through court action. Mortgage foreclosure is usually referred to as a judicial foreclosure.
A mortgage is a security document that allows the borrower to keep title of the property while using the property as security or collateral for a loan. The lender then places a lien on the property in the event the owner does not pay the agreed payment. When the borrower pays off the loan, the lender gives the borrower a satisfaction of mortgage that removes the lien from the property. About half the states in the U.S. use mortgage foreclosure as the means of satisfying the loan balance.
As with most mortgage foreclosure lawsuits, it starts with a summons and a complaint is issued to the borrower and any other parties with inferior rights in the property. Usually the lenders attorney is the one who issues the notice. The complaint is usually filed in the court where the trial is to be held. Here is the interesting part. Once the borrower has been notified, he or she has 20 days to respond back to the court challenging them on the mortgage foreclosure lawsuit. Once this occurs, the court now has 40 days to respond back to the borrower. Keep in mind that each correspondence must be legit and deal with some specific part of the complaint.
This process may go back and forth as long as the borrower finds something erroneous with the complaint. This slows a mortgage foreclosure greatly because it must go through the court system. It may go as long as a year if needs be or even longer. Bottom line, you as the investor needs to contact the borrower or homeowner during this time and negotiate a purchase of the distressed property. This is when the homeowner is greatly motivated and must make a decision quickly.