what is a trustee sale in real estate

Understanding the Trustee Sale Process in Arizona: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding the Trustee Sale Process in Arizona: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding the Trustee Sale Process in Arizona: A Comprehensive Guide 2400 1600 Gottlieb Law

In Arizona, a trustee’s sale represents a critical juncture for borrowers unable to meet their financial obligations, as lenders turn to the securement of payment through a property’s deed of trust. A non-judicial procedure, the trustee sale process in Arizona offers a more expedient and cost-effective resolution than judicial foreclosures, providing an alternative route for lenders that bypasses court proceedings. This creates a situation where understanding what is a trustee’s sale in real estate becomes imperative for stakeholders navigating these financial crossroads.

Gottlieb Law, with its sturdy foundation of knowledge and experience, presents this comprehensive guide to demystify the trustee sale process in Arizona. The upcoming sections will meticulously explore the roles of key parties, dissect the pre-sale intricacies, and chart the conduct involved during the sale, alongside post-sale considerations and legal ramifications. By acquainting readers with the trustee’s sale in Arizona, this article endeavors to impart a robust understanding of what a trustee’s sale in Arizona entails, ensuring informed decisions and actions in this complex legal landscape.

Understanding the Trustee’s Sale Process

In the event of a mortgage default in Arizona, the lender may opt for a trustee’s sale, invoking a non-judicial foreclosure mechanism. This process commences with a Notice of Trustee’s Sale, typically issued 90 days before the scheduled trustee’s sale is set to take place. The notice protocol is stringent, mandating recording, mailing to pertinent parties, newspaper publication, and conspicuous posting on the property in question. Notably, minor errors in the notice don’t undermine the sale’s validity, provided the legal description and sale specifics remain accurate.

The trustee’s sale unfolds as a public auction, where cash bids determine the property’s fate. The highest bidder secures ownership through a Trustee’s Deed. In scenarios devoid of bidders, the lender may claim the property. Intriguingly, a borrower’s bankruptcy filing can suspend the sale, although lenders retain the right to address the default within bankruptcy proceedings.

Post-sale, the new owner holds the discretion to offer a temporary lease to the borrower or demand immediate property vacation. Resistance to vacate can lead to legal action for forcible entry and detainer.

Arizona’s foreclosure landscape is bifurcated into Judicial and Non-Judicial foreclosures. The latter, also known as Power of Sale Foreclosures, necessitates a similar notice process and culminates in a cash auction, with payment due the following day. While deficiency suits are permissible under certain conditions, they are only applicable if Arizona’s anti-deficiency scheme does not apply.  Surplus funds, termed Excess Proceeds, and HOA dues settlement are subsequent considerations. Creditors may revoke debt acceleration, and execution sale purchasers can invoke statute of limitations defenses, underscoring the intricate legal tapestry surrounding trustee’s sales in Arizona.

Key Parties Involved in a Trustee Sale

In the intricate process of a trustee sale in Arizona, several key parties play pivotal roles:


  • Acts in good faith and effort as a viable third-party.
  • Assures that the sale adheres to existing state laws.
  • Holds the title in the deed of trust until the loan is paid, then transfers the deed to the borrower.

Beneficiary (Lender):

  • Holds the promissory note.
  • Has the right to initiate foreclosure upon borrower’s default.
  • May prepare a credit bid and potentially become the property owner if no other bidders emerge.

Borrower (Trustor):

  • The original property owner who took out the loan.
  • Must be notified of default and has 90 days to rectify the situation to avoid sale.
  • May receive the option to lease the property post-sale.

Interested Parties:

  • Can include junior lienholders, tenants, or neighbors.
  • Receive notifications about the sale.
  • Have the right to participate in the auction.

Winning Bidder:

  • Becomes the new property owner after the trustee sale.
  • Is mandated to tender the full amount of the sale in cash by the next business day.

Judicial Officers:

  • May become involved if legal disputes or challenges arise during the sale process.

Real Estate Attorney:

  • Can assist in initiating or defending against a trustee sale.
  • Provides legal guidance throughout the process, ensuring compliance with all regulations.

Each party’s involvement is critical to the trustee sale’s legitimacy and finality. Gottlieb Law, with its substantial legal experience, stands ready to assist clients in understanding their roles and rights within this process, ensuring they are equipped to navigate these complex proceedings with confidence.

The Pre-Sale Process

In the trustee sale process in Arizona, the pre-sale phase is a sequence of legally mandated actions that a lender must follow upon a borrower’s loan default. Gottlieb Law elucidates this process:

Notice Issuance and Recording:

  • The lender identifies the loan default and sends notices to the homeowner.
  • A Notice of Trustee’s Sale is submitted to the County Recorder for recording.

Notice Distribution and Publication:

  • The Notice of Trustee’s Sale is dispatched to the homeowner and any interested parties.
  • It is also posted on the property and published in a local newspaper for four consecutive weeks, ensuring public awareness.

Countdown to Auction:

  • The trustee’s sale is scheduled to occur between 9 am and 5 pm on a business day, at least 90 days after the Notice of Trustee’s Sale is recorded.
  • During this 90-day period, the homeowner has the opportunity to sell the house or pursue a bankruptcy workout process or other solution..

It is crucial for homeowners to understand that after the trustee’s sale auction, the winning bidder holds the property title, and the original homeowner’s legal claim to the property ceases, with no right of redemption. 

What’s more, if the homeowner files for bankruptcy before the sale, the trustee’s sale is stayed automatically. The lender’s preparation of a credit bid and the trustee’s adherence to the statutory waiting period are essential components of the pre-sale process. With experience in real estate law, Gottlieb Law stands as an authoritative source for clients facing the complexities of a trustee’s sale in Arizona.

Post-Sale Considerations

Upon the completion of a trustee’s sale in Arizona, the new owner is furnished with a Trustee’s Deed, marking the transfer of property rights. However, post-sale considerations are multifaceted, with various legal steps to ensure a smooth transition. Gottlieb Law outlines these considerations:

Transition of Ownership:

  • The new owner may extend an offer for the previous owner to lease the property, though not obligatory.
  • An immediate notification to vacate can be issued, and if the previous owner does not comply within five days, the new owner is entitled to file a forcible entry and detainer action to reclaim the property.

Notice and Proceeds Distribution:

  • The sale’s proceeds are allocated to the beneficiary after deducting any outstanding liens or debts.
  • Junior lienholders and the former property owner may claim excess proceeds within a two-year window from the sale’s date.

Gottlieb Law offers guidance through the complexities of the trustee’s sale process in Arizona, ensuring that clients’ interests are vigilantly safeguarded.


The comprehensive guide provided by Gottlieb Law has elucidated the trustee’s sale process in Arizona, ensuring readers are well-informed on this non-judicial foreclosure mechanism. The article thoroughly navigated through the pre-sale requirements, the auction itself, and the vital post-sale considerations, shedding light on the critical steps and the roles of various stakeholders. By presenting these complexities in a clear and approachable manner, the firm has emphasized the importance of being equipped with the necessary legal knowledge to navigate such intricate proceedings confidently.

Readers are encouraged to consider these insights carefully and seek professional legal counsel to ensure their interests in any trustee sale scenario are vigorously defended and competently handled.

Why You Need an Experienced Arizona Real Estate Attorney

Foreclosures are complex, and even the most seasoned property owners can benefit from having a real estate attorney to offer expertise during the proceedings. Our firm can help you understand your rights, review documents and explore solutions to avoid foreclosure or navigate it more favorably. Gottlieb Law provides industry-leading legal representation for anyone involved in Arizona real estate. Contact our firm today at 602-899-8188 or schedule an initial consultation on our contact us page.