In California, the non-judicial foreclosure process begins when a "Notice of Default (NOD)" is filed with the County Recorder. Technically, a lender may file a Notice of Default as soon as one payment is missed. In reality, some lenders will wait for a second a third missed payment before filing.
After the Notice of Default is recorded at the County Recorder, the lender must also publish the notice in a newspaper of "general circulation," and mail a copy to the address of record for the borrower.
A Notice of Default is a public record. Anyone searching the county's public records, or following a newspaper that publishs notices, can find it. Foreclosure data companies such as RETRAN, REDLOC, REALTY TRAC, and many others republish and sell these public records daily.
Following the recording of a Notice of Default, the borrower has 90 days to bring the payments current.
If the default has not been corrected at the end of the 90 day period, the lender can then schedule a sale date, and record a Notice of Trustee Sale.