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More lenders are allowing home owners in default to stay-put in their homes longer–and even negotiating special arrangements with them, such as the lender paying the home insurance if the home owner pays the utility costs, The New York Times reports.

Why the postponement? Banks don’t want the cost of maintaining more homes on their books. Many municipalities are forcing banks to better maintain foreclosed homes, which has been adding to the costs.

By the end of January, more than 644,458 homes were under bank ownership. What’s more, about 710,725 are in the foreclosure process, awaiting to add to that number, according to data by RealtyTrac.

“Under normal circumstances, the banks would be able to cover the cost of maintenance, upkeep, and property taxes by just reselling the property, but these are desperate times, and banks are resorting to somewhat desperate measures in some cases,” Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac, told The New York Times. “It is more of a factor now because property values have come down and will not cover all these costs when the banks resell the property, if they can resell the property.”

In 2007, the average time it took to complete a foreclosure was four months. By the end of 2011, that has stretched to a year. In some states the slowdown is even more pronounced, such as in Florida where defaulting home owners often stay put for more than two years, or in New York in which foreclosures in 2007 once took 263 days to complete and in 2011 now average 1,019 days.

Source: “Lenders Increasingly Allow Foreclosed to Stay,” The New York Times (March 4, 2012)


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