Although the foreclosure crisis is no longer at its peak, there is still a backlog of foreclosures in some states. If you are facing foreclosure, it’s helpful to know if the process will be relatively quick, or if it will drag on for years.
(To learn more about the time it takes for a foreclosure to complete, visit our Foreclosure Timelines topic page.)
The Top Five
According to recent data from RealtyTrac, the five states in which foreclosure takes the longest period of time to complete are:
- New York — foreclosures take an average of 1,049 days (just under three years)
- New Jersey — foreclosures take an average of 1,002 days
- Florida — it takes 893 days on average to complete a foreclosure
- Hawaii — the foreclosure process in Hawaii takes on average 824 days
- Illinois — foreclosures take an average of 720 days to complete
Why the Long Timelines?
In addition to banks wading through a backlog of foreclosures, factors that contribute to a long completion process include:
- the process the state uses (judicial foreclosures take longer than nonjudicial foreclosures)
- whether the state has protections for homeowners (like mandatory mediation) that prolong the process, and
- whether the lender or servicer is subject to heightened mortgage servicing standards (for example, because it’s part of the national mortgage settlement).
Longer Is Usually Better
For most homeowners, the longer it takes for the foreclosure to finish, the better. It’s often advantageous to have extra time to:
- try to refinance of your mortgage under the government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) (the deadline to apply was recently extended to December 31, 2015)
- negotiate an alternative to foreclosure, or
- live in your home without making a payment before the foreclosure is completed. (To learn more, see How Foreclosure Can Save You Money.)
When a Long Timeline Is Not Helpful
If, on the other hand, you have made other living arrangements and are eager to move out, a long foreclosure timeline could have some downsides. You need to keep tabs on the process to make sure the process actually comes to completion, otherwise you could become the victim of a zombie foreclosure.