Foreclosures stretch to an average 17 months, may get longer

On February 21, 2011, USA Today reporteted that the average U.S. borrower in the throes of foreclosure hasn’t made a mortgage payment in 17 months, up from nearly 11 months two years ago — and the time frame may get even longer.

Banks and mortgage servicers, who collect payments for lenders, are taking more time to complete foreclosures because of huge volumes of defaulted mortgages. Other factors include time-consuming reviews for loan modifications and additional delays that followed revelations late last year about improperly filed foreclosure documents in tens of thousands of cases.

Last year, the number of days that the average borrower in foreclosure went without making a payment stretched from 410 in January to 507 in December, says LPS Applied Analytics, which tracks 37 million mortgages. Before the foreclosure crisis, the norm was more like 250 days, says Herb Blecher, LPS senior vice president.

“Loans are spending longer in the process,” Blecher says.

About 2.2 million homes were in foreclosure at the end of January, according to LPS.

The delays may translate into higher prices in some markets for foreclosed homes as inventories shrink, real estate experts say. They will also push some foreclosures further into the future, meaning they’ll weigh on housing markets longer. “There’s a trade-off. On the plus side, you trim inventories. But ultimately, these units have to be foreclosed,” Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics says.

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