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Forfeiture of Your Real Estate Contract

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project - CLEAR Intake Line LSC Funded
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Read this if you are buying a home under a real estate contract. Do NOT read this if you are buying a home with a mortgage or deed of trust.

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I am buying a home with a mortgage or deed of trust. Should I read this?

No. Read these instead:

What is a real estate contract?

It is any written agreement for the sale of real property where the seller keeps legal title until the buyer finishes paying for it.

What does "forfeiture" of a real estate contract mean?

It is when the seller cancels your rights under the contract because you are not meeting your contractual obligations, such as making monthly payments.

Is it the same as foreclosure?

No. It is when you have a real estate contract and fall behind on payments. You usually have fewer rights than someone facing foreclosure.

*See a lawyer BEFORE the seller forfeits your real estate contract.

Where can I read the real estate forfeiture law?

See RCW 61.30.

Does the seller have to go to court?

No. The seller can cancel (“forfeit”) your rights without going to court.

Does the seller have to forfeit the contract?

No. The seller can instead foreclose on it like a mortgage. The seller must follow the procedure in Foreclosure When You Have a Mortgage. You will have the same rights as someone with a mortgage.

When can the seller start the forfeiture process?

When you fall behind in your payments.

What is the process?

A seller must send you a Notice of Intent to Forfeit, and then a Declaration of Forfeiture. If you get either, see a lawyer immediately.

*The seller cannot forfeit your real estate contract until at least 90 days have passed from the date the seller records the Notice of Intent to Forfeit.

Can I stop the forfeiture?

Yes, if you can both:

  • Make up payments at any time until the date in the Notice of Intent to Forfeit.

  • Pay the seller's expenses from starting the forfeiture process, if your real estate contract requires this.

The seller forfeited the contract. Do I need to move?

Yes, within ten days after the day the seller records the Declaration of Forfeiture. If you do not, the seller can start the eviction process.

The seller forfeited the contract. Can I get back the money I put into the house?

No. However, you will not owe the seller any more money.

 

This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
This information is current as of February 2018.

© 2018 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014

(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)

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© 2015 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014

(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)

Last Review and Update: Feb 14, 2018
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