Stories of people staying in their homes for months, or even more than a year, while neglecting to pay their mortgage seem commonplace these days. But what about five years? 

A couple in Maryland lived in their home for five years without paying a dime of their $1 million mortgage, reported The Washington Post. All this time, they kept foreclosure at bay by filing for bankruptcy repeatedly and manipulating Maryland laws passed to protect homeowners from foreclosure.

They may get evicted any day from the five bedroom, 4,900 square foot home along the Potomac River. But they've ridden out the storm for five years when the average foreclosure process in the state takes an average of 634 days.

And 634 days is a heck of a long time, but it is nothing compared to what this couple has been able to get away with. And what’s more stunning is that stuff like this didn’t used to happen in Maryland. 

Maryland used to fly through the foreclosure process. So fast, in fact, that it was called “the rocket docket.” A series of changes were put in place to slow that down and protect homeowners, but it seems to have slowed to a crawl. 

While I’m certainly not advocating “rocket docket” sort of dealings, being able to sit in your home for five years and not pay for it is a problem. The situation in Maryland is a perfect example of how the market is broken — not only from the bank end, but also from the government end trying to fix the problem by putting Band-Aids on it.

This one couple is an extreme example of the problems that laws focused too much on helping individual homeowners and not enough on helping the market overall can cause. Backlogs of foreclosures prevent hard-hit communities from recovering and make it impossible for prices to recover.