The long process of foreclosure: an average of 492 days

Even though Black Friday sales may have been decent, housing is still lagging. Another indicator: “the number of days since the average borrower in foreclosure last made a mortgage payment” is 492 days. The Wall Street Journal adds more about this figure:

In recent months, the number of borrowers entering severe delinquency — meaning they missed their third monthly mortgage payment — has been on the decline, falling to about 700,000 in October, according to mortgage-data provider LPS Applied Analytics. But it’s still more than double the number of foreclosure processes started.

As a result, banks are taking progressively longer to foreclose. The average borrower in the foreclosure process hadn’t made a payment in 492 days as of the end of October, according to LPS. That compares to 382 days a year ago and a low of 244 days in August 2007…

Speeding up the process won’t be easy, as demonstrated by the banks’ continuing legal troubles related to robo-signers, bank employees who signed foreclosure affidavits without properly checking the required loan documentation.

Millions of Americans still are paying their mortgages even though they owe more than their homes are worth. The more banks’ backlog grows, the more likely they are to join it, adding to the already giant pile of foreclosures weighing on the housing market.

In my mind, one of the issues is that we don’t really know the true state of the housing market until all of these foreclosures go through. And if the average length is more than a year, it is going to take a long time to get all of these through the system, let alone deal with new foreclosures.

I wonder if the length of foreclosure differs by location. In areas that were hard hit by foreclosures, like Las Vegas or parts of California, are the banks ahead or behind in regard to these 492 days? Are there areas of the country where it is in the banks’ interest to slow down the foreclosure process because they can’t really do anything with the houses anyway?

h/t Instapundit

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