Yes, it's hit the fan again for big lenders trying to foreclose on defaulting homeowners. One after the other has put the brakes on and stopped their foreclosure sales as the controversy over "robo-signers" refuses to die down. When a single employee signs off on 6,000 foreclosures a day, it seems implausible that she has in fact reviewed the files and satisfied herself that the foreclosures are legitimate and ready to proceed. Oops.

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But that isn't your problem. You can't pay your mortgage and so your sympathy is NOT with the banks. You want to know how long you can expect to remain in your home before your lender forecloses and puts your stuff out on the sidewalk.

Well, the bad news is that it depends on your location and lender -- one size definitely does not fit all. The good news (for you) is that it's taking longer than ever to get homes foreclosed and folks evicted. That means more time to find a job and perhaps negotiate a modification, more time to maybe get a buyer and process a short sale, or more time to save all the cash you can before you move on to cheaper digs.

According to the publicly traded firm Lender Processing Services (guess what they do?!), in this country the average time from the day a mortgage turns delinquent until the final foreclosure takes place is 469 days. That's 118 days longer than it took a year ago. It will doubtless increase thanks to the robo-signer scandal.

What does that mean to you? It depends on where you live. If a state requires a judicial foreclosure, that is, if lenders must work through the court system, your foreclosure will take longer (the wheels of justice grinding slowly and all that jazz). That goes double if you live in a state with a lot of foreclosures tying up the court system. And probably triple if your state requires your lender to go through mediation before foreclosing (you do have to formally request mediation though). In states that allow non-judicial foreclosure (outside the court system), however, foreclosure goes faster. In some places banks are evicting very quickly and putting renters into the properties to offset their losses.

Which are the judicial foreclosure states? According to Realty Trac (click the link and find information for your state), states that don't allow non-judicial foreclosure are Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, and Vermont.

The District of Columbia, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Tennessee only allow non-judicial foreclosure.

All other states have both kinds of foreclosure. Some only allow non-judicials if the borrower does not respond to court actions. Others allow lenders to file a notice once the homeowner defaults and then schedule a foreclosure sale. Actions in these states can go quickly.

How can you slow down foreclosure? By filing for bankruptcy protection, you can probably add two to four months to the time you can remain in your home. And if your state has a foreclosure mediation program, request mediation with your lender. You may get a modification from it or at least gain additional time.