CNN Money: Delinquent Homeowners Get Free Ride for Years

Thursday, 29 Dec 2011 09:26 AM

By Michelle Smith

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A growing number of delinquent homeowners are getting hip to tactics that allow them to live mortgage-free for years, CNN Money reports. Many people are using technicalities to stay in their homes for extended periods of time despite foreclosure proceedings.

The tactics that homeowners use to do this include challenging the bank's actions, waiting right until the deadline to file paperwork, requesting the lender dig up original paperwork, or, in some extreme cases, declaring bankruptcy, CNN Money reports.

The irony is that lenders are blamed for giving these homeowners much of the ammunition that they are using.

Real Estate Economy Watch says the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) reported that mortgage servicers lifted a voluntary moratoria implemented in late 2010 when the robo-signing controversy initially came to light.

Robo-signing was a process where companies were electronically signing documents without proper analysis and verification of information. That scandal helped to create a slowdown in the foreclosure process in part because mortgage holders realized that documentation challenges were a great stall tactic.

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(Getty Images photo)
As a result, Real Estate Economy Watch says the OCC reported that newly initiated foreclosures declined 11.8 percent from the third quarter of 2010. Yet, the number of foreclosures in process increased 0.5 percent from the previous quarter and 7.6 percent from a year earlier as the length of time required to complete foreclosure increased.

Nationwide, the average time it takes to process a foreclosure — from the first missed payment to the final foreclosure auction — has climbed to 674 days from 253 days just four years ago, according to LPS Applied Analytics, reports CNN Money.

And in some locations, the process takes much longer. In Florida, CNN Money says delinquent mortgage holders can stay in their homes for about three years.

While some borrowers are looking for ways to make good with lenders and get their homes back, many aren't paying a dime, CNN Money reports. Nearly 40 percent of homeowners in default have not made a payment in at least two years according to LPS, the publication reports.

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