The US foreclosure process used to take around 36 weeks, once the homeowner stopped making payments.
But as the chart shows, based on information provided by LPS Applied Analytics, this period has doubled since the housing crisis began in 2008. In November, it was taking nearly 72 weeks, or 16 months.
Meanwhile, the number of homes in foreclosure has trebled from 700k to 2.1 million, as home prices have fallen 30% from their peak, and unemployment risen to 9.8%.
And foreclosure volume seems likely to continue rising. Yesterday’s S&P Case Shiller home price Index warned that “a double dip is almost here“, and noted home sales are down 25% versus 2009 and unsold home inventory up 50%.
The only silver lining is that once people give up on their mortgage, they have more money to spend in the shops. Temporarily, at least, this seems to be helping retail sales, which have been relatively strong in recent months.