The Foreclosure Process in Maryland
The following paragraphs briefly summarize the residential mortgage foreclosure process in Maryland. This is not intended to constitute legal advice. For information particular to your unique situation, please seek out the advice of an attorney or housing counselor.
A Notice of Intent to Foreclose (NOI) must be sent to the homeowner at least 45 days before the first court filing in the foreclosure action. The NOI is sent via certified mail and first-class mail. The following are examples of information that the mortgage company must include with the NOI: information regarding the delinquency of the mortgage loan, a loss mitigation application, and information about housing counseling. If the mortgage company is offering pre-file mediation, the option to participate will be included with the NOI as well. (The mortgage company is not required by law to provide this option.)
90 days after the first missed payment is the earliest that the mortgage company can make its first filing in the foreclosure action in Circuit Court. (Note that according to federal law, for certain loans defined as federally-related, lenders are required to wait 120 days after the first missed payment before the first court filing in the foreclosure action.) The foreclosure filing is called an Order to Docket and it may say “Notice of Foreclosure Action” at the top. A copy of the documentation is personally served on the homeowner, and must include one of the following affidavits:
- A preliminary loss mitigation affidavit will be filed if the mortgage company has not started or not completed a review of the loan for alternatives to foreclosure. This review is referred to as loss mitigation. An application for loss mitigation review will be included with the NOI, and another application should be included with the preliminary loss mitigation affidavit.
- A final loss mitigation affidavit will be filed if the mortgage company believes it has no available alternatives to foreclosure. For owner-occupied properties, this affidavit will come with a “Request for Foreclosure Mediation”. If the homeowner receives a final loss mitigation affidavit with the Order to Docket, the homeowner has only 25 days to request foreclosure mediation after receipt of the documents. To request foreclosure mediation, the homeowner must send the completed form with a non-refundable fee of $50 to the Circuit Court.
If the homeowner requests mediation, their request will be forwarded to the Office of Administrative Hearings,where an administrative law judge will mediate the case within 60 days after being notified of the request by the court. The administrative law judge will act as a neutral third party and assist with the review of loss mitigation programs that may be applicable to the loan. For more information about foreclosure mediation, visit the Maryland HOPE Initiative website.
If an agreement for an alternative to foreclosure is NOT reached by the parties during mediation, then a foreclosure sale can occur as soon as 15 days after the mediation session. If the Order to Docket includes a final loss mitigation affidavit, and the homeowner does NOT request mediation, then a foreclosure sale can occur as soon as 45 days after Order to Docket is served on the homeowner.
See also the “What You Need To Know About Foreclosure: Information for Maryland Homeowners” brochure.
Note: This summary of the foreclosure process in Maryland is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.
More detailed information about foreclosure proceedings in Maryland is available on the Maryland State Bar Association website, under "Legal Info Brochures".
Resources for Maryland Consumers
There are many non-profit or free resources available to Maryland residents who are facing foreclosure. These resources provide valuable information to assist consumers with budget and financial matters as well as facilitating communication with financial institutions.
Housing Counseling and Legal Service Agencies
Non-profit housing counselors are trained and certified to assist homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Counselors are available to meet face-to-face or via phone to discuss your situation, evaluate your budget for a possible solution, and act as a liaison between you and your mortgage company. National studies show that homeowners who work with non-profit housing counselors:
- are more likely to keep their home,
- are more likely to receive a loan modification that lowers their mortgage payment and/or interest rate,
- are likely to receive a more favorable loan modification than homeowners that don't work with counselors, and
- the sooner homeowners work with a counselor, the better their results.
Non-profit legal service agencies staffed with pro-bono or low-bono attorneys can provide valuable legal advice to homeowners who are facing foreclosure. It is recommended that a homeowner seek out the legal advice of an attorney if an Order to Docket or Notice of Foreclosure Action has been filed, and especially if the homeowner has requested foreclosure mediation or is interested in pursuing bankruptcy.
To find a state-approved housing counseling or non-profit legal service agency near you, call the Maryland HOPE Hotline at 1-877-462-7555 or visit the Maryland HOPE Initiative website.
Note: If your income does not qualify you for pro bono legal services, you can consult the Lawyer Referral Services page on the Maryland State Bar Association website for a referral to a private attorney.
“Homeowner Toolkit” from Maryland HOPE Agencies
Below are documents to assist homeowners with navigating the foreclosure process. These documents were created by a partnership between housing counseling and legal service agencies in Maryland.
Consumers facing foreclosure often have a number of questions about household budgeting and other forms of assistance they may be eligible to receive. There are numerous nonprofit, state, federal, and other public service agencies working to increase consumer’s knowledge about financial management and provide services or assistance. Below is list of resources that may be useful.
- If you are renter and know that the home you rent is in foreclosure, contact the Public Justice Center for information about your rights and protections.
- To learn about the national mortgage servicing settlements, and to see if you may qualify for any benefit under these settlements, please refer to the special joint state-federal settlement website. You may also visit the mortgage servicing settlement page on the Maryland Office of the Attorney General website for information.
- If you have recently lost your job, you may qualify for unemployment insurance. Please visit MDunemployment.com for more information. If you are currently underemployed and/or in need of a new job, visit the Maryland Workforce Exchange website for possible job opportunities. For tips on dealing with job loss, see also this brochure (en Español) from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
- There are special programs designed to assist veterans and service members. See the pages on the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs website about avoiding foreclosure; and the information available from the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- For questions about your utility bills or to seek assistance with disputing bills, visit The Office of People's Counsel website.
- For information about general financial education, visit the Maryland CASH Campaign website or the "My Money Matters" section of the Enoch Pratt Free Library website. To learn about public benefits for which you or your family may be eligible, visit the Maryland EarnBenefits website. For specific tips on speaking to your children about financial hardship, see the "Families Stand Together" toolkit from Sesame Workshop.
Avoid Foreclosure-Related Scams and Fraud
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Know your rights!
The recent economic crisis has led to an increase in foreclosure-related scams, including those that involve so-called loan modification experts, loss mitigation consultants and/or foreclosure rescue consultants. Federal and state laws exist to protect homeowners from entities wishing to take advantage of people in danger of losing their homes. Below are tips to avoid becoming a victim of foreclosure-related scams and fraud.
- There is never a fee to get assistance or information about the "Making Home Affordable Plan" from your mortgage company or a HUD-approved housing counselor. Approved, non-profit counselors and attorneys are available through 1-877-462-7555 or Maryland HOPE Initiative.
- Beware of any person or organization asking you to
pay up-front fees in exchange for providing mortgage
counseling services or modification of a delinquent loan.
Do not pay - walk away.
- Do not believe guarantees. A reputable counselor will not guarantee that they can stop the foreclosure process, regardless of your circumstances. Working with a legitimate counselor can certainly increase your chances of keeping your home – but be wary of people who promise a sure thing. Again, first get the details of your transaction and any related promises in writing before you enter into an agreement.
- Beware of anyone who says they can "save" your home
if you sign or transfer over the deed to your house.
Do not sign over the deed to your property to any organization
or individual unless you are working directly with your
mortgage lender, or with your attorney.
- Never submit your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage company without your mortgage company's approval.
If you feel you may be the target or victim of a loan modification/loss mitigation scam or of foreclosure fraud, trust your instincts and seek help. File a complaint with the Office the Commissioner of Financial Regulation. You can also call the Office at 1-888-784-0136.
For more information about foreclosure-related modification scams, visit Loan Modification Scam Alert. For general tips on spotting scam artists and protecting yourself, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.
Foreclosure-related inquiries for the Commissioner of Financial Regulation, including assistance with the Maryland Foreclosed Property Registry and the Notice of Intent to Foreclose electronic reporting system, should be directed to:
Foreclosure Administration and Outreach