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Florida's slow foreclosures may be good for homeowners and banks

We’ve seen a lot of debate going back and forth about the slow foreclosure process in Florida. Does the sluggish foreclosure rate hurt homeowners or benefit them? Is it better for our state’s economic recovery to let home repossessions move slowly through court, or should they be sped along?

Today, Florida’s foreclosure process still moves along at a snail’s pace. The average foreclosure in the state lasts about 900 days. Judges say banks are to blame for over 350,000 foreclosure cases clogging up the court system. In many cases, foreclosures stall for so long that judges drop them.

The head state lobbyist for the Florida Bankers Association says that overloaded courts are the cause of the “bottlenecked” foreclosure cases today. But a number of reasons for stalling foreclosures can actually work in banks’ favor: Banks don’t have to pay the costs for the upkeep, fees, and resale if they haven’t yet outright repossessed a home. It’s in their best interests financially to negotiate a deal with struggling homeowners and even allow them repay their loans with better terms.

This can be good news for homeowners struggling with financial challenges. With a slower foreclosure process, they have more time to short sell or to negotiate affordable loan modifications with their lenders.

A Florida bill has just passed that may speed foreclosures through the system again. Depending on your point of view, it could be good to get many of these stagnating cases out of the way--or it can make it more difficult for people who are trying to hang onto their homes.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Judges blame banks for foreclosure slowdowns, but some see good in delay,” Drew Harwell, June 1, 2013

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