U.S. foreclosure activity continues to fall, thanks to lender processing delays

New York, New Jersey have the longest foreclosure processes in the nation
May 12, 2011 09:13AM

Foreclosure filings declined by another 9 percent last month, bringing foreclosure activity nationwide to a 40-month low as lender processing delays continue to back up the system, according to data from RealtyTrac released today.

April was the seventh consecutive month in which foreclosure filings, which include default notices, scheduled auction and bank repossessions, declined. Activity was 34 percent below its level in April 2010.

James Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO, said one reason for the slowdown is that lenders are waiting to see if loan modifications, short sales or other foreclosure alternatives come through before pushing 90-day-plus delinquent loans into the foreclosure process. Meanwhile, “after foreclosure has started… lenders are taking much longer than they were just a few years ago to complete the foreclosure process,” he said.

Indeed, completed foreclosures took an average of 400 days during the first quarter of this year, up from 340 days during the first three months of 2010. In 2007, it took just 151 days on average for a lender to take a loan from the initial default notice to repossession.

New Jersey and New York are leading that charge, with average timelines of more than 900 days for foreclosure completions in the first quarter of the year — more than three times their average from the first quarter of 2007.

Florida followed with an average 619-day timeline for foreclosures, up from 470 days in last year’s first quarter. TRD