So, you think “a contract is a contract, a deal’s a deal.” Not in housing, it isn’t.

 Delinquent borrowers facing foreclosure are learning that they can stay in their homes for years, as long as they’re willing to put up a fight.

Among the tactics: Challenging the bank’s actions, waiting to file paperwork right up until the deadline, requesting the lender dig up original paperwork or, in some extreme cases, declaring bankruptcy.

Nationwide, the average time it takes to process a foreclosure — from the first missed payment to the final foreclosure auction — has climbed to 674 days from 253 days just four years ago, according to LPS Applied Analytics.

In Florida, it takes over 1,000 days.

Under these conditions, lenders do not want to foreclose. Why not? Because they do not want to spend the money on legal fees. They figure that they have owners in the houses. The owners are likely to take care of it. What if it is empty? Squatters will move in. Whast if owners fight it? Legal fees will rise. The lenders might lose if they can’t prove they own the deed.

If an owner was paying $2,000 a month mortgage, delaying for three years is worth $72,000 before taxes.

This about this:

And while some borrowers are looking for ways to make good with lenders and get their homes back, many aren’t paying a dime. Nearly 40% of homeowners in default have not made a payment in at least two years, according to LPS.

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