By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- As homeowners facing foreclosure race against the clock to find ways to save their home, a practice is growing in popularity that could buy some homeowners valuable time.

Kerry McConnell and his wife fell behind on their mortgage payment. The pair tried unsuccessfully to work with their lender and soon, they were facing foreclosure.

The McConnells contacted top foreclosure attorney Jonathan Stein who advised them to use three little words: "produce the note." It means asking the lender to find the actual mortgage note proving that you owe the debt.

"Produce the note is a legal strategy we use to force banks to show us that they're the proper party to foreclose," said Jonathan Stein.

It seems like a simple enough request. But, legal exerts said in the real estate frenzy of the last decade, mortgages were often sold and resold and original paperwork can sometimes be stored in hard to find locations, lost or even destroyed.

"In 2007, I did a study of homeowners who filed bankruptcy to try to save their house. The note was missing 40 percent of the time," said Katherine Porter, associate law professor at the University of Iowa.

If you ask for the original in a court proceeding, experts said it can stall a foreclosure for a significant period of time while you attempt to reach an agreement with your lender or rectify your financial situation.

Experts said homeowners should not consider the practice a first line of defense.