The following timeline is applicable for non-judicial California foreclosures under a Deed of Trust.
There are no set number of payments to miss before the bank begins the foreclosure proceedings, but once you’ve missed several payments your Lender officially starts the foreclosure process by filing a Notice of Default with the County Recorder. The Notice of Default basically gives you 90 days to become current on your loan. If you are not current by the end of the 90 days, then a Notice of Trustee’s Sale is then recorded. The Notice of Trustee’s Sale gives you 21 days, at which point the property is sold at public auction to the highest third-party bidder or reverts to the bank. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides an excellent resource on foreclosures, avoiding them and how the timelines work.
Learn about it at http://www.hud.gov/foreclosure/index.cfm.