The length of time between initial filing and completion of a Florida foreclosure continues to grow. On average, the process now takes 749 days, or a little over two years. By comparison, the national average is 366 days. Only two states have longer completion periods than Florida – New York takes the number one spot at 986 days with New Jersey coming in a close second at 974 days.
The long processing period is largely due to the fact that Florida foreclosure laws, unlike those in most states, require judicial approval of foreclosures. Combine that with the fact that Florida is home to a disproportionately large share of the country’s foreclosures, and you have a perfect recipe for big backlogs and long waits.
The duration of a Florida foreclosure proceeding is not expected to shorten any time soon, as initial filings continue to grow. October’s initial filings were seven percent higher than the same time last year. October also marked the third straight month of increases in foreclosure filings after a temporary slowdown caused after regulators discovered that mortgage companies and loan processers had behaved improperly.
Long Wait Gives Florida Homeowners Options
The long delay can, in many cases, be a good thing for Florida homeowners facing foreclosure. The two-year window gives homeowners time to consult with a Florida foreclosure attorney and work out a plan to either save their home or minimize the financial impact of the foreclosure.
Some homeowners may want to pursue loan modification. The federal government has recently relaxed rules for entry into federal loan modification programs, and lenders are showing increased willingness to work with homeowners to reach a deal.
Others may want to consider filing for bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows for stripping a second mortgage from a home if the balance of the first mortgage is higher than the value of the property.
Borrowers who are not interested in keeping their homes may want to consider a strategic default. Given the long lag time between initial filing and foreclosure completion, borrowers may be able to live in their home rent- and mortgage-free for months or even years. This gives people facing foreclosure a chance to save up enough money to have a fresh financial start.
Foreclosure can be a terrifying proposition, but homeowners have options. If you are facing foreclosure, contact an experienced Florida foreclosure attorney who can help you understand all your possible solutions.
Source: The Palm Beach Post, “Average Foreclosure Wait Grows 10 Percent in Florida,” 11 November 2011