how to sell a house in foreclosure pennsylvania

Are you trying to figure out how selling a house in foreclosure works?

There’s no better time to learn because foreclosure rates are up.

In fact, last year alone, Pennsylvania recorded one of the highest increases in foreclosures year over year – 115%!

To make this problem even more concerning, rates are expected to climb further and homeowners in Pennsylvania aren’t aware of their options to stop foreclosure.

Selling a house in foreclosure in Pennsylvania is one of many options available to residents and property owners in order to stop foreclosure auctions in their tracks.

This article is going to walk you through all of the details and strategies required to successfully tackle a foreclosure and help homeowners reset financially so that they can move on from the stress and hassle.

It’s always sound advice to engage legal professionals, so make sure you are heading in the right direction and taking the proper steps to get out of foreclosure.


  • Foreclosure activity in Pennsylvania is on the rise. With more homeowners falling behind on their payments, it’s important for them to comprehend their options around how to stop foreclosure fast.
  • There are many different stages to the mortgage foreclosure process in Pennsylvania. It’s critical to understand where you might be and how you can start to take action today. Don’t lose hope – help is available.
  • In order to stop foreclosure immediately, many homeowners decide to “sell my house fast before foreclosure”. But be careful – you need to sell the house to the right buyer so that you can avoid foreclosure auctions and damaging scores on your credit.

Table of Contents

What Does Foreclosure Mean?

In my years of real estate experience, I’ve learned that foreclosure means different things to different people.

Sometimes homeowners debate over whether foreclosure starts when you are served with a notice of default while others believe it is when the auction date is set.

What really matters is understanding that foreclosure is the process by which properties are repossessed by lenders due to borrower defaults on their loans. You can pick apart the timing, payments, penalties, notices, etc. At the end of the day, if you are delinquent with your lender, you can be facing a foreclosure.

The mortgage foreclosure process can be a very intimidating series of events to unfold.

It all starts when the borrower misses several loan payments. This is followed by the lender sending default notices, and then ultimately initiating legal action to repossess the property.

In Pennsylvania, the foreclosure process is a judicial one. This means that it is handled through the courts. You may notice that in other states, it is a non-judicial process, where matters are settled outside of the courts. What this means for you is that there are more legal fees, attorneys and other administrative costs associated with processing your foreclosure.

How Do Foreclosure Sales Work In Pennsylvania?

Foreclosure in Pennsylvania follows a very standard process:

When a borrower’s loan goes into default, the lender kicks off a court proceeding in an attempt to recover the outstanding loan balance. In Pennsylvania, foreclosure follows a “judicial process”, which means that the court system is much more involved and therefore the entire process if much longer.

Once the lender files a complaint and serves the borrower with a copy, the foreclosure process has officially begun. If the borrower does not respond or the court rule in favor of the lender, a judgment is issued by the judge. Now, the property is added to a list of other similar ones that will eventually be sold in a county sheriff’s sale. Many counties now do this online, but some still run the old fashioned process of doing it on the steps of the courthouse!

Pre-foreclosure homes are properties that are right in the middle of all of this. These properties can still be sold during the pre-foreclosure stage, and in fact it is often a wise move to sell in order to avoid a formal foreclosure.

If the house is not sold or the loan balance is not brough current (including the fees and penalties) then the county sheriff’s sale schedules an auction in which the property is sold to the highest bidder. The sale is open to the public – anyone and everyone can step up and bid on your home. It’s also advertised in a local newspaper for at least three weeks prior to the sale date so that other buyers, investors and interested parties can prepare to place a bid.

If the property is sold to a third party (i.e., not to the lender or borrower), the lender will be paid the outstanding balance and any excess funds will be returned to the borrower. For property owners who have some equity, this is great news because you won’t necessarily lose it in a foreclosure. However, if the property does not sell or if the sale does not generate enough funds to pay the outstanding balance, then the lender may file a deficiency judgment against the borrower.

selling a house in foreclosure pennsylvania

It is important to note that the borrower can redeem the property up until the time of the sheriff’s sale. Many homeowners plan to do this, however the reality is that only very few are able to. To do this, they must pay the outstanding balance, plus any costs and fees associated with the foreclosure process. It can be a scramble to get the funds together in time which is why it’s often to big of a challenge.

How to Stop Foreclosure Pennsylvania

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re dealing with foreclosure or preforeclosure and seeking ways to halt it. Homeowners falling behind on mortgage payments often seek ways to sell their homes quickly before foreclosure becomes inevitable.

There are various strategies homeowners can employ to delay or completely stop foreclosure proceedings.

It’s advisable to seek legal counsel, particularly for judicial foreclosure defense, if you intend to take action independently.

To summarize, if you’re facing foreclosure and aiming to prevent a foreclosure sale, there are practical steps you can take.

How to Protect Your Home from Foreclosure in Pennsylvania – Steps & Choices

1. Act Quick:

If you receive an Act 91 notice, which is a notice of mortgage default, it is important to act quickly. The Act 91 notice is the first step in the foreclosure process in Pennsylvania, and it gives you the opportunity to bring your mortgage account current and avoid foreclosure.

2. Contact Your Mortgage Lender:

If making mortgage payments has become challenging, contacting your lender promptly is essential. They may offer options like repayment plans or loan modifications, often overlooked by many.

stop foreclosure pa

3. Explore Available Options

Numerous options exist to avoid foreclosure, such as government programs or nonprofit organizations offering financial aid or mediation services. It’s crucial to explore these alternatives and select the best fit for your circumstances. Some homeowners opt for selling their homes quickly to evade foreclosure, a straightforward solution.

4. Seek Legal Advice

When facing foreclosure, consulting with a lawyer is wise. They can clarify your rights, discuss available options, and represent you in legal proceedings if required.

5. Consider a Short Sale

If you can’t bring your mortgage up to date or sell your home through conventional methods or to a cash buyer, a short sale might be an option. In a short sale, the lender agrees to accept less than the total loan balance.

6. Attend The Auction

Attending any scheduled foreclosure auction is crucial. You might bid directly or through a representative. If sold to a third party, any excess funds after settling the balance are returned to you.

7. Evaluate a Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure

If avoiding foreclosure seems impossible and neither a short sale nor auction sale is feasible, offering the lender a deed in lieu of foreclosure might be an option. This involves transferring property ownership to the lender in exchange for releasing your mortgage debt.

Note, if foreclosure proceeds and your property is sold, it may be categorized as bank-owned (REO). Such properties are typically listed on foreclosure sites or by real estate agents.

If you’re confronting foreclosure in Pennsylvania, acting swiftly and seeking legal counsel are crucial steps. An attorney can provide guidance on your rights and options, helping determine the best course of action. Additionally, a quick sale to a home buyer can often resolve the issue promptly.

Can I Sell My House To Avoid Foreclosure In Pennsylvania?

If you’re contemplating selling a house to avoid foreclosure in Pennsylvania and don’t have the time or resources to go through the traditional litigation and foreclosure process outlined above, then you might consider selling quickly to a cash home buyer.

Why would that make sense for you?

These buyers are typically investors who are willing to pay cash for houses in any physical or financial condition, so you don’t have to worry about making repairs or doing any staging. And they can also act quickly.

More importantly, you also don’t have to catch up on your payments or make amends with your lender. You can avoid foreclosure by selling.

At the consummation of the sale, the mortgage is paid off and a short sale is avoided. However, it’s important to be aware that cash buyers typically offer lower prices than you might get if you were to sell your house through a realtor. The catch with a realtor is that homeowners in foreclosure typically do not have enough time to list their home – hence the value of using a cash buyer.

Process for Selling Your House To Avoid Foreclosure In Pennsylvania

So how can you sell your house while in foreclosure? Follow these steps:

  1. Determine the value of the property: It is important to have a good understanding of the value of the property in order to determine the best selling price. You can research similar properties in the area and consult with a real estate agent or appraiser to get an idea of the property’s value.
  2. Consider a short sale: If you are unable to pay the outstanding balance on your mortgage and you are unable to sell the property through traditional means, you may be able to sell the property through a short sale. A short sale is a sale in which the lender agrees to accept less than the full balance of the loan.
  3. On-market vs. Off-market: There are several options for listing a property in foreclosure, including listing it on real estate websites such as Zillow or listing it through a real estate agent. Alternatively, you could skip this step and find a cash home buyer (more on that below).
  4. Market the property: Marketing the property can help to attract potential buyers and increase the chances of a successful sale. You can market the property through online listings, social media, and traditional advertising methods such as open houses and yard signs.
  5. Review offers: Once you receive offers on the property, it is important to review them carefully. Consider the terms of the offer, including the price, closing date, and any contingencies. You may also want to consider the financial stability and reputation of the potential buyer, as well as their ability to obtain financing.
  6. Negotiate the sale: If you receive an offer that you are interested in, you can negotiate the terms of the sale with the buyer. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure that this sale would work with your foreclosure.
  7. Close the sale: Once the terms of the sale have been agreed upon, the property will go through the closing process. The closing process typically involves signing the sales agreement and transferring ownership of the property to the buyer. The buyer will pay the purchase price, and any outstanding mortgage balance will be paid to the lender.

Selling a House In Foreclosure in Pennsylvania – Your Options

List With An Agent

As a homeowner facing foreclosure, you have several options for selling your house before it is too late.

The first and most obvious option is to list the property with a real estate agent. If you have enough time and money to go this route, it can be great. However, listing with an agent can be time-consuming and costly, as you will have to pay a commission to the agent. And with foreclosures, time is not always on your side.

It’s often the case with foreclosures that any and all money saved, such as that of the agent’s commission, is truly money back in the pocket of the homeowner.

If you’re facing foreclosure you likely cannot afford the services of an agent. And on top of that, a realtor simply cannot sell your house fast enough to pay off the mortgage before the property is foreclosed on by the bank.

For Sale By Owner

Another option is to sell the property yourself, also known as “for sale by owner.” This is a great way to save on that commission cost, but it can also be challenging.

You will have to handle all of the marketing and sales efforts that an agent would typically facilitate. So while you do save money compared to listing with an agent, you also still won’t be able to close the deal fast enough.

Pennsylvania Cash Home Buyer

A third option is to sell the house directly to a cash buyer.

This option is all about speed and convenience. Cash buyers are able to close quickly and without contingencies that might blow up the deal at the last minute. If you are facing a tight deadline, such as an upcoming foreclosure sale, a cash buyer might be the right choice.

sell my house in foreclosure pennsylvania
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Foreclosure HELP in Philadelphia | Free Resources & Money to Help

The findings and information in this article are focused on Pennsylvania, however, it is applicable in many locations nationwide! Signature Properties is a full-service home buyer that purchases foreclosure properties to help homeowners in Erie, Scranton, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Wilkes Barre, West Chester, Lancaster as well as Luzerne & Lehigh Counties.

Sell My House Fast Before Foreclosure In Pennsylvania

Signature Properties provides the easiest and simplest way to sell your house in Pennsylvania. We buy houses through fair and honest cash offers.🙂 Whether you are avoiding the bank from foreclosure, coming into an inheritance, going through divorce or any other situation – we have real estate solutions to get you the outcomes you desire when you sell your house to us. We help homeowners with costly home repairs, mounting liens, code enforcement violations and even vacant homes. Are you trying to sell your house in surrounding areas or other counties and states near Pennsylvania? We buy properties in New Jersey and Delaware as well as many other towns! In fact, we buy homes all over Pennsylvania. Selling a house in foreclosure in Pennsylvania is a very serious but doable project!