The clock in the foreclosure process starts once you miss a loan payment. Each stage narrows your options for turning the situation around and keeping your home.

You receive important notices from the lender generally between 30 and 90 days after you miss a payment. First is a notice of default, or official notice you've broken your mortgage agreement. Next is a notice of acceleration, asking for full payment to avoid foreclosure. Finally comes the notice of foreclosure.

Lenders and borrowers must follow foreclosure laws, and both parties have legal rights. Your stakes are high as a borrower, so it's important to know the rules and your options.