Why do housing foreclosures have to take so much time?

dan burrus.jpg

Daniel Burrus

Housing foreclosure filings fell in May, a decrease of 3 percent according to online foreclosure company RealtyTrac.com.

That sounds good, but there are still a lot of foreclosures going on across the country. According to RealtyTrac’s numbers, one in every 400 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing — either a default notice, scheduled auction or bank repossession — during May.

Banks, then, have a lot of foreclosures to tackle. It’s not surprising that it sometimes takes them so long to work through their foreclosure backlog. You can find news stories all over the Internet of homeowners who’ve stopped making their mortgage payments only to wait months — sometimes longer than a year — for their mortgage lenders to actually kick them out of their homes.

Daniel Burrus, though, thinks this is ridiculous.

Burrus, founder of Hartland Wis.-based Burrus Research, is an interesting person. He creates applications for iPhones, while his company is a research and consulting firm that monitors the ways in which science and technology can help businesses operate more efficiently. He has plenty to say on how technology can help mortgage lenders and banks work through their backlog of housing foreclosures more quickly.

Burrus has developed an iPhone application called Complete Foreclosures. Basically, users can click on a “Nearby Foreclosures” link to bring up a map showing them all the housing foreclosures near them. The application also lists pre-foreclosed homes, properties that are in trouble but have not yet gone into foreclosure.

Here’s how Burrus thinks this can speed up the foreclosure process: Real estate agents can contact the owners of these pre-foreclosed homes. They can then ask the owners if they’d like their help. If the owners accept the offer, agents can help the owners sell the homes as short sales.

By providing this foreclosure information free, to both buyers and real estate agents, Burrus says, more sales can take place in a shorter amount of time, helping to clear out the backlog of housing foreclosures.

“I would say that we have created a tool that is helping to flush these properties out of the system,” Burrus said.

Of course, this is just one tool to help move the number of foreclosed homes in Chicago and across the country. Burrus calls himself a technology futurist. And the future of technology is increasingly centered on helping business people do their business, he says. That includes helping real estate agents and banks work together to sell foreclosed properties at a far more rapid pace.

That sounds good to me. Housing values in Chicago won’t truly regain their momentum as long as so many foreclosed properties — with their lower price tags — are there to compete with them.


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