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Homeowners more behind on payments before foreclosure

It can take a long time for the foreclosure process to move from the time a lender issues a foreclosure notice to the time the homeowner is evicted. But the time between the homeowner's first missed payment and that eviction is even longer. Last year, homeowners across the country were an average of 507 days behind on payments by the time foreclosures were completed. That is more than 100 days longer that the average in 2009.

So why did the foreclosure process take so much longer last year than the year before? A senior vice president at Florida's Lender Process Services Inc. has a couple of theories.

First, he says that lenders waited longer to issue foreclosure notices in 2010. Because of the "sheer volume of loans" in default, it took Florida lenders an average of 349 days of a homeowner being delinquent before the foreclosure notice was issued. That is nearly a year of being behind on payments before the lenders took any actions toward foreclosure.

Also, the same individual said that lenders are exercising an "abundance of caution" after the robo-signing fiasco. Lenders want to be sure that they do everything properly before evicting homeowners. This is hopefully leading to lenders showing more respect for homeowners' rights.

These factors both help explain why homeowners were delinquent 25 percent longer before eviction in 2010 than they were in 2009. Not only are lenders waiting longer to issue foreclosure complaints, the actual foreclosure process itself is taking longer.

Source: Bloomberg, "U.S. Homeowners in Foreclosure Process Were 507 Days Late Paying," John Gittelsohn, 7 Feb 2011

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