FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-07-26
After a widespread lull in 2011, foreclosures have been on the rise again across the country, and many experts predict the trend to continue. According to a recent report from foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc., the number of U.S. homes entering foreclosure for the first time has been increasing in recent months compared to last year’s figures. In June 2012, for instance, foreclosureactions were initiated against 1,509,015 homes nationwide, an increase of 18 percent over June 2011.
Robo-Signing Controversy Slowed Foreclosure Rates
The recent spike in foreclosures follows a year of dramatically reduced foreclosure activity in 2011 following allegations that several of the nation’s top mortgage lenders had processed foreclosures without verifying the necessary documents, a process widely referred to as “robo-signing.” During the investigations, many banks stopped processing foreclosures, resulting in a massive backlog of homes with unpaid mortgages awaiting foreclosure.
In February 2012, five of the nation’s biggest mortgage lenders settled with government officials for $25 billion and resumed processing foreclosures. With banks now struggling to make up for lost time, families behind on their mortgage payments are once again facing the threat of foreclosure. In June 2012 alone, lenders initiated foreclosure proceedings against 12 percent of the delinquent mortgages, the Washington Post reported.
State Laws Affect Foreclosure Processing Times
Because of variations in state laws, the foreclosure process can take anywhere from a few months to nearly three years. Processing times are typically longest in states that use a judicial foreclosure process, which requires lenders to get approval from a judge before foreclosing on a property. Other states, including Rhode Island, use a non-judicial foreclosure process, which allows lenders to foreclose on delinquent mortgages without going through the court system.
Many non-judicial states have been able to work through their foreclosure backlogs relatively quickly, resulting in shorter processing times. In Rhode Island, the average foreclosure is processed in 225 days — about one-third more quickly than the national average of 348 days, according to National Public Radio.
Act Fast to Prevent Foreclosure
While some believe that a relatively swift foreclosure process may help speed recovery in the housing market as a whole, it can be detrimental to individual homeowners because it gives them less time to explore options for keeping their homes when faced with the prospect of foreclosure.
For information about stopping or preventing foreclosure in Rhode Island, contact an experienced foreclosure defense attorney.