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Report: Filing delays slow down foreclosures

FILE - A Jan. 10, 2009 file photo

FILE - A Jan. 10, 2009 file photo shows a bank repo and foreclosure for sale signs outside a foreclosed home in Houston. Foreclosure sales plunged 25 percent in the July-September quarter versus the April-June period and tumbled 31 percent from the third quarter last year, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip/file) Photo Credit: AP Photo/DAVID J. PHILLIP

The number of foreclosure filings in New York in April tumbled 51.9 percent from a year ago and fell 18.9 percent since last month, to 2,113. Nationwide, foreclosure filings declined 34 percent compared to last April and 9 percent compared to March. That’s the seventh straight month of declines and a 40-month low, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac.

But don’t get excited: The slowdown has more to do with processing delays than market recovery, says RealtyTrac chief executive James J. Saccacio.

“The first delay occurs between delinquency and foreclosure, when lenders and services are no longer automatically pushing loans that are more than 90 days delinquent into foreclosure but are waiting longer to allow for loan modifications, short sales and possibly other disposition alternatives,” Saccacio said in a statement. “Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that about 3.7 million properties are in this seriously delinquent stage. The second delay occurs after foreclosure has started, when lenders are taking much longer than they were just a few years ago to complete the foreclosure process.”

He’s not exaggerating: In New York and New Jersey, the average time from the initial default notice to a completed foreclosure (REO) was more than 900 days in the first quarter of 2011, more than triple the average in the first quarter of 2007 for both states. That’s even slower than the national average, which was 400 days in the first quarter of this year -- up from 340 days in the first quarter of last year and more than double the average of 151 days a foreclosures took in the first quarter of 2007.

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