While the overall housing market in many places has recovered since the Great Recession, homeowners in some areas still face foreclosure. In certain states, a foreclosure can take a very long time to be completed—sometimes as long as a few years. (To learn what to do, and what not to do, in a foreclosure, see Foreclosure Do’s and Don’ts.)
Read on to learn which states have lengthy foreclosure timelines and the factors that influence how long a foreclosure might take.
The average number of days for a foreclosure—between the first public notice and the end of the process—was 835 days in the first quarter of 2019. In fact, there are multiple states where a foreclosure takes more than a year to complete and, in the states with the longest timelines, a foreclosure can often take as long as more than four years.
If you're facing foreclosure in a state where it takes a considerable amount of time to complete a foreclosure, you'll probably have plenty of time before the process is over to:
Depending on the state and circumstances, a foreclosure will be either nonjudicial or judicial.
Nonjudicial foreclosure. In a nonjudicial foreclosure, the lender doesn't have to go through the state court system to foreclose.
Judicial foreclosure. Judicial foreclosures go through the state court system, which means the courts are involved in every step of the foreclosure. As a result, a judicial foreclosure often takes a lot longer than a nonjudicial one. Backlogged courts, judges’ schedules, hearings, and required paperwork all contribute to a prolonged process. Courts are simply unable to process large volumes of foreclosures in an expedited manner. (To learn more about the difference between judicial and nonjudicial foreclosure, and the procedures for each, see Will Your Foreclosure Take Place In or Out of Court?)
Another reason that certain states have long timelines is due to foreclosure prevention efforts by the government.
Foreclosure laws. California, Colorado, Minnesota, and Nevada, for instance, all passed laws to increase homeowners' protections from foreclosure, which can slow down the process in some cases. Foreclosures can take a long time because lenders and servicers must comply with the requirements under these laws.
Mediation laws. Some states, cities, and municipalities have passed foreclosure mediation laws that can delay the foreclosure process.
Mortgage servicing laws changed in 2014. Federal laws that went into effect in 2014 added federal protections for homeowners in foreclosure. For example, a mortgage servicer generally can't officially begin the process until the borrower is more than 120 days overdue on payments.
To learn about your options if you are facing foreclosure, get Nolo's The Foreclosure Survival Guide.
As of the first quarter of 2019, most foreclosures in the following states took an exceptionally long time.
As of the first quarter of 2019, Indiana had the longest foreclosure timeline, coming in at 1,806 days (well over four years).
The foreclosure process in Hawaii took on average 1,565 days.
Arizona had the third-longest foreclosure timeline, averaging 1,385 days.
Foreclosures in New Jersey took around 1,212 days to complete.
The Florida foreclosure process took on average 1,196 days.
(To learn about the basics about foreclosure laws in these states and others, see our Key Aspects of State Foreclosure Law: 50-State Chart.)
On the flip side, as of the first quarter of 2019, the foreclosure process in West Virginia was relatively quick, averaging 159 days. Virginia, Minnesota, Alaska, and Wyoming also have relatively short timelines, generally taking around six to nine months to complete the process. (To learn the basics about foreclosure laws in these states, again, see our Key Aspects of State Foreclosure Law: 50-State Chart.)
If live in a state where foreclosures tend to take a long time and you're about to go through one, you likely will have plenty of time to apply for (and hopefully get) an alternative to foreclosure. Though, keep in mind that the timelines discussed in this article are averages. The actual length of any individual foreclosure depends on a number of factors and your foreclosure could be longer or shorter than the state average. To find out how long a foreclosure is likely to take in your circumstances and get advice specific to your situation, consider talking to a local foreclosure attorney.