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Hat tip to T&W for sending this along, from dsnews.com:

After conducting a survey with current and former clients, YouWalkAway.com reported that lenders are taking longer before beginning the foreclosure process. The agency surveyed underwater homeowners it has or is working with and found that from January to June of this year, respondents who received a foreclosure start notice were 11 months behind on their payment.

Last year, it took an average of 9 months of nonpayment before the foreclosure process started.

Receipt of a Notice of Default, Foreclosure Complaint, and Notice of Trustee’s Sale all counted as foreclosure starts for the survey.

In 2010 and 2009, the average number of months before foreclosure began was 7, and in 2008, it was 4 months.

According to the foreclosure agency, the data indicates lenders are now only beginning to attend to delinquencies from the first and second quarter of 2011. This means strategic defaulters have been given a longer time period in which they could reside in their home rent free before the foreclosure process begins.

In the first and second quarter of 2012, properties averaged 16 months of delinquency before getting foreclosed on. Based on the survey results and other data, YouWalkAway.com said this reflects an increase in the number of months a borrower is delinquent before foreclosure starts are filed and foreclosures are completed. This implies lenders and servicers are processing older foreclosures and homes that have been in default for over a year.

Jon Maddux, CEO of YouWalkAway.com, questions if this delay on the lender’s part is intentional.

“Waiting so long to even begin the foreclosure process is detrimental on a personal, local, and national level. It affects the borrower, their credit and financials, their neighborhoods, the housing market and economy in general,” said Maddux.

With the lengthening not only at the start of the foreclosure process, but also at the end, Maddux said it could suggest lenders are beginning to address the backlog that was created during the robo-signing debacle, but it may be too soon to tell the actual rate of of foreclosure filings in 2012.

“Once this shadow inventory hits the market, housing prices may lower and create a new wave of strategic defaults and foreclosures,” said Maddux.

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