As many readers know, Florida was among the hardest hit states in the aftermath of the burst of the housing bubble, and many homeowners in the state are still struggling to get back on their feet in the wake of a mortgage they can no longer afford.

With one out of every 32 Florida homeowners entering some stage of the foreclosure process, the backlog of distressed properties is likely slowing the recovery of the housing market here, and it is also creating a backlog of cases in foreclosure courts.

To speed up the process, the state pays judges from various other courts to fill in and hear foreclosure cases. Despite this effort, a typical foreclosure in Florida takes about two and a half years to complete.

Judges who work in foreclosure courts in Florida say that disorganized bank paperwork and promissory notes (loan documents) that have been bought and sold and shipped all over the country are hard to track down, which in turn extends the timeline for a foreclosure action.

Others blame the state’s cumbersome legal process, saying that it is more burdensome that the foreclosure process in other states. However, the steps that make the foreclosure process in Florida tougher than in other states operates largely to protect borrowers from unfair practices and to make sure they have enough time to try to work with banks to secure a loan modification. In some cases, a loan modification can help delay a foreclosure but if the modification has a limited time period attached to it homeowners may end up going back into delinquency when the full payments resume.

Source: NPR, “Foreclosure Process Hammers Florida’s Housing Market,” Robin Sussingham, Feb. 4, 2013

There are many things that homeowners can do to try to stop foreclosure and stay in their homes. More information is available our on foreclosure prevention page.