New rule of real estate … Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks.

Posted in Humor | 19 Comments

From Quartz:

Confirmed: Starbucks knows the next hot neighborhood before everybody else does

What fuels gentrification? The answer is the same thing that fuels the rest of us: coffee.

But not just any old cup o’ joe.

Starbucks, the iconic coffee roaster and retailer, has grown into a $15 billion company, with more than 19,000 locations in more than 60 countries. You can spot that familiar green-and-white logo from Saudi Arabia to Switzerland, in a Dubai shopping mall, or on a Carnival Cruise ship. Where the Berlin Wall once stood, there’s a shiny new Starbucks instead. Conveniently, one of our desks has a view of the original Starbucks store in Pike Place Market.

To explore exactly how closely the two correlate, we compared a database of Starbucks locations with Zillow data. And since Starbucks’ corporate headquarters in Seattle is located just a few miles down the road from Zillow, we also took the opportunity to pay our neighbors a visit, and to pick the brains of Starbucks’ own real estate analytics team—the whizzes who determine where to put that next Starbucks location.

Here’s what we can tell you: Starbucks equates with venti-sized home-value appreciation. Moreover, Starbucks seems to be fueling—not following—these higher home values.

And the reason why is that Starbucks’ real estate choices are, in their words, “as much an art as a science.” When deciding where to hang its next shingle, the company marries right-brain ingenuity with hard-headed, left-brain analysis—exactly as you should.

What does that look like in practice? Let’s look at the historical home value appreciation of areas that now are located within a quarter mile of a Starbucks. A home that is now near a Starbucks would have sold, on average, for $137,000. A home that is not near a Starbucks would have sold, on average, for $102,000.

Fast-forward 17 years to 2014. That average American home has now appreciated 65%, to $168,000. But the Starbucks-adjacent property has far outpaced that, appreciating 96% to $269,000.

To examine that possibility, we took a look at another prominent coffee chain, Dunkin’ Donuts.

What did we learn? Homes near Dunkin’ Donuts reflect a similar historical trend. But while they appreciate faster than the nation’s housing as a whole, they still don’t appreciate as fast as properties that are now a quarter-mile from a Starbucks.

Whatever the reasons—because they genuinely like drinking coffee, or because they see Starbucks as a proxy for gentrification—it seems pretty clear that people are paying a premium for homes near Starbucks. And furthermore, it looks like Starbucks itself is driving the increase in home values.

Pending sales drop in December, but still top last year

Posted in Employment, Housing Recovery | 124 Comments

From Bloomberg:

Pending Sales of Existing Homes in U.S. Drop by Most in a Year

Contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly fell in December by the most in a year, a sign the industry’s recovery remains uneven.

The index of pending sales dropped 3.7 percent after a 0.6 percent gain the prior month that was smaller than initially estimated, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of 42 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called a 0.5 percent increase.

Fewer available properties, higher prices and still-tight credit are hurdles for some customers as first-time buyers remain reluctant to enter the market. At the same time, employment gains and near record-low mortgage rates will help to underpin demand, one reason builders such as Lennar Corp. expect the industry’s rebound will be sustained.

“Total inventory fell in December for the first time in 16 months, resulting in fewer choices for buyers and a modest uptick in price growth,” Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist, said in a statement. “More jobs, increasing consumer confidence, less expensive mortgage insurance and new low down-payment programs coming into the marketplace will likely lead to more demand from first-time buyers.”

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from a drop of 4.4 percent to an increase of 1.6 percent. The Realtors’ group revised the November data from a previously reported gain of 0.8 percent.

All four regions saw a decrease, led by a 7.5 percent drop in the Northeast, the report showed. Pending sales declined 4.6 percent in the West, 2.8 percent in the Midwest and 2.6 percent in the South.

Compared with a year earlier, the index increased 8.5 percent on an unadjusted basis after a 1.5 percent gain in the prior 12-month period. They were projected to climb 10.5 percent, according to the Bloomberg survey median.

The pending sales gauge was 100.7 on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest since April. A reading of 100 corresponds to the average level of contract activity in 2001, or “historically healthy” home-buying traffic, according to the NAR.

Spring Market!

Posted in Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 152 Comments

From CNBC:

Mixed signals for spring housing season

The spring housing market is still about a month away, but industry experts are already arguing its outcome. New reports offer very different views on both headwinds and tail winds. Overall economic conditions, everything from job growth to cheap gas, could help home sales. But still high home prices, tight credit conditions and low supply all stand in the way.

“The housing recovery is barely on first base,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Prospects for a home run in 2015 aren’t good.”

Blitzer made those comments in a monthly report on home prices from S&P/Case-Shiller, which showed home price gains had eased in November 2014 (a three-month running average ending in November). The strongest gains were limited to California, Florida, the Pacific Northwest, Denver, and Dallas, while the rest of the country is lagging the national average.

A more current report, however, gauging January sales and prices, was more optimistic. Real estate brokerage Redfin says home prices are 7.6 percent higher in January from a year ago (at least according to sales in the first three weeks of the month). It also says home tour demand among its listing hit an all-time record last week, with the number of customers requesting tours up 62 percent from a year ago.

The numbers may be juiced by better news in the mortgage market. Not only are interest rates near record lows, but the FHA, the government insurer of home loans, lowered its annual premiums Monday by half a percentage point, which it estimates saves the average borrower about $900 a year.

“If prices go up too far too fast, buyers will step back and wait for them to drop again,” said Richardson. A steep jump in prices in 2013 caused sales to fall backward in 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors, which recently reported full-year 2014 sales 3 percent below 2013.

November Case Shiller

Posted in Economics, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 160 Comments

From Bloomberg:

Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Increased 4.3% in November

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose at a slower pace in the year ended in November, a sign the industry struggled to find momentum even amid low mortgage rates.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values increased 4.3 percent from November 2013 after rising 4.5 percent in the year ended in October, the group said Tuesday in New York. The median projection of 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 4.3 percent year-over-year advance. Nationally, prices rose 4.7 percent after a 4.6 percent gain in the year ended in October.

Property prices slowed over the last year as home sales cooled, with demand stymied by sluggish wage growth and less household formation. More moderate price gains, combined with improvement in the labor market and low borrowing costs, may enable a wider swath of Americans to become buyers, providing a needed jolt to the industry.

“Home-price appreciation continued last year, but at a slower pace compared with 2013,” said Ryan Wang, an economist at HSBC Securities USA Inc. in New York and the second-best forecaster of the Case-Shiller index over the last two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “Going into this year, we’ll see a moderate increase in home prices. Mortgage rates have fallen, and that may help sales pick up a bit.”

All 20 cities in the index showed a year-over-year increase, led by gains of 8.9 percent in San Francisco and 8.6 percent in Miami. Among cities whose annual growth rates climbed the most in November were Tampa, Florida; Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Portland, Oregon. Cleveland showed the smallest increase, at 0.6 percent.

“Strong price gains are limited to California, Florida, the Pacific Northwest, Denver, and Dallas,” David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, said in a statement. “Most of the rest of the country is lagging the national index gains.”

SNOW MY GOD

Posted in Humor | 137 Comments

Looks like a complete bust for NJ. From the Star Ledger:

Blizzard likely a bust as snow projections cut in half, forecasters apologize

The first major snow event 2015 will still have a substantial impact in New Jersey, but for much of the state, a feared knockout punch was downgraded early Tuesday to a glancing blow — much to the embarrassment of forecasters.

“My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public,” Gary Szatkowkski, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, said via Twitter early Tuesday morning.

Blizzard warnings remained in effect early Tuesday for the coast and the northeast areas of the state, with Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Passaic and Bergen counties all forecast to see accumulations of between 8 and 12 inches through Tuesday. Gusts of up to 45 miles per hour and whiteout conditions were still possible, as were power outages due to falling limbs. Travel along the I-95 corridor Tuesday is expected to be impacted as well, the National Weather Service predicted.

But those accumulations are a far cry from the “historic” totals forecast in some projections Sunday and early Monday, which called for up to two feet or more from a system touching much of the urban Northeast from Philadelphia to Boston.

Blizzardastrophe Open Discussion

Posted in Humor | 184 Comments

From the Record:

With predictions of snow accumulations ranging up to 3 feet, people across North Jersey started preparing Sunday for The Big One, snatching snow shovels and ice-melting supplies from store shelves and forming long lines at supermarket checkout counters to stock up on staples like milk, bread, eggs and water.
The National Weather Service predicted a record-setting snowstorm, with blizzard conditions and zero visibility. The storm was expected to start gradually before 9 a.m. Monday — but the region was warned to look for a total of 2 to 3 feet of snow by the time it was expected to end Tuesday night.

“This storm will be extremely impactful, if not life-threatening,” said meteorologist Tim Morrin of the National Weather Service.

And with temperatures predicted to remain below freezing through Wednesday, even a day of clear skies would have no melting effect before the possibility of a little more snow Thursday night, Morrin said.

“We’re warning of the possibility of whiteout conditions throughout the area from 7 p.m. Monday to 7 p.m. Tuesday,” Morrin said. “We are not recommending anyone to be on the road from Monday afternoon through Wednesday.”

Morrin said wind-driven, light powdery snow could result in drifts that “even snowplows will have difficulty getting through.”

The detailed forecast from the National Weather Service for the North Jersey area called for snow to start before 9 a.m. today, with a possible accumulation of 1 to 3 inches by nightfall.

Then, the weather service said, 10 to 16 inches more will accumulate tonight, accompanied by winds of 16 to 26 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. Some thunder is also possible. The low temperature will be around 20 degrees and, with the wind-chill factor, feel between zero and 10.

Widespread blowing snow all day Tuesday is likely to add 9 to 13 inches more, and the temperature will continue to feel as if it was between zero and 10, with winds gusting up to 41 mph during the day. The winds are expected to ease somewhat on Tuesday night — and so is the snowfall, with an additional 1 or 2 inches possible, the weather service said.

Mildly disappointing?

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Recovery | 48 Comments

From Bloomberg:

Home-Sales Winning Streak Ends, First-Time Buyers Go Missing 

A three-year winning streak for sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. ended in 2014 as some investors stepped out of the market and first-time buyers failed to fill the void.

Purchases totaled 4.93 million last year, down 3.1 percent from the 5.09 million houses sold in 2013, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed Friday in Washington.

The share of American homebuyers making their first purchase dropped in 2014 to its lowest level in almost three decades, according to the Realtors group. At the same time, employment gains, growing consumer confidence, mortgage rates at historically low levels and government efforts to lower purchasing costs probably will help bolster demand in 2015.

“Demand has been pretty sideways,” said Jay Feldman, an economist at Credit Suisse in New York. “There are various positives and I don’t see any big negatives for housing. The improving labor market and low mortgage rates will support the housing recovery.”

Purchases climbed a less-than-forecast 2.4 percent in December from the prior month to a 5.04 million annual rate, the report showed.

The median forecast of 76 economists in a Bloomberg survey called for sales of previously owned homes to rise to a 5.08 million pace in December. Estimates ranged from 4.93 million to 5.25 million. The November reading was revised down to 4.92 million from a previously reported 4.93 million.

First-time buyers accounted for 29 percent of all purchases in December, down from 31 percent a month earlier, the report showed. A separate survey from the group showed they made up 33 percent for all of 2014, the fewest since 1987.

“First-time buyers are still missing in action,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said at a news conference today as the figures were released. The market in 2014 was “mildly disappointing.”

Falling interest rates, more jobs and higher levels of confidence indicate “pent-up demand continues to build,” he said. “2015 should be a better year.”

A lack of supply and rising prices are probably among reasons younger and first-time buyers have yet to enter the market. Those issues are also driving out investors, who led the early stages of the recovery.

The median price of an existing home advanced 6 percent in December from the same period a year earlier, to $209,500, the Realtors’ report showed. In 2014, it was the highest in seven years.

The number of previously owned homes on the market fell to 1.85 million, the second-smallest reading for any December since 1999.

Unemployment falls in December, but NJ still lags

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment | 103 Comments

From the Record:

NJ’s annual job growth slow, with some bright spots

Four years after New Jersey reached its post-recession employment low, figures released Thursday show the state’s economic recovery continues to be slow.

The state added a modest 29,000 jobs in 2014, leaving employment far below its pre-recession peak and lower even than the level 14 years ago, according to the monthly employment report released by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The report showed New Jersey shed 400 jobs last month, even as national employment forged ahead strongly, adding 252,000 jobs in December. And although the state’s jobless rate dropped from 6.4 percent to 6.2 percent, it remains above the national figure of 5.6 percent.

The report, nevertheless, contained some positive elements, including the fact that the state added more jobs in 2014 than the previous year, despite the loss of thousands of casino jobs in Atlantic City, a very harsh winter and the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy.

“It was a sustained, moderate pace of growth,” said Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at the accounting firm CohnReznick.

The 29,000 jobs added last year were an improvement on 2013, when the state gained 18,800 jobs, but below the 2012 total of 43,900 and only slightly better than the figure of 25,200 in 2011.

Since the state’s employment reached a low point in January 2011, New Jersey has regained 48 percent of the 258,000 jobs lost in the downturn. State figures show employment at the end of 2014, 3,957,800 workers, is still below the 2000 total of 4,024,600.

Flight of the Millionaire

Posted in Demographics, Economics, New Jersey Real Estate | 127 Comments

From the Star Ledger:

Millionaire households fleeing N.J. by the thousands, study says

New Jersey, consistently one of the most affluent states in the country, has slipped a bit in a new ranking of the rich.

The Garden State fell from second to third in millionaire households per capita, according to a ranking released today by Phoenix Marketing International.

New Jersey lost roughly 10,000 millionaire households, but those affluent families who remain still account for 7 percent of the whole state, the researchers said.

The state had climbed to second last year for the first time since 2010, but was edged out by Connecticut in the 2014 ranking.

A high tax rate for top earners may have led to some migration out of the state, according to David Thompson, the lead researcher.

By losing those 10,000 millionaire households, the Garden State returns to third, where it was ranked from 2010 through 2012. Since the last report, Connecticut lost only 1,000 millionaire households, as it vaulted to the second spot, the group said.

Some groups doubt the millionaire-migration theory. Jon Whiten, a deputy director of New Jersey Policy Perspective, said long-term statistics show that tax rates do not cause the rich to flee.

“If millionaires were truly trying to flee NJ’s top income tax rate, we probably would have lost a lot more when the rates were higher,” Whiten said. “But during the 2000s NJ almost doubled the number of tax filers above $500K at a time when the tax rate was increased on them, twice.”

Last year, a report by the Morristown-based Regent Atlantic wealth management firm released a report entitled “Exodus on the Parkway” that claimed so-called “tax migration” began in 2004, with the state’s passage of the “millionaire’s tax.” The report found that a couple with an income of $650,000 who moved to Pennsylvania would save some $21,000 per year in taxes, adding up to $1.65 million over 25 years, if invested. Most families with incomes of $500,000 per year or more were departing New Jersey for either the Keystone State or Florida, the Regent Atlantic authors added.

“The phenomena is there, that people are leaving – but people in New Jersey have high incomes,” said Joseph Seneca, professor of economics at the Edward Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

The cause-and-effect is nuanced, Seneca said. Retirement, people seeking better climates, sale of businesses, stock market decreases, and other factors mean that this year’s millionaires might not be next year’s millionaires, he said. But taxes have been shown to be a factor. For instance, Florida has no estate tax, while New Jersey’s is costly, Seneca said.

“New Jersey has been, and remains, a high-income state,” the economist said.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself…

Posted in Humor, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 144 Comments

From the Star Ledger:

Snooki buys new $2.6M Florham Park home

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is expanding her real estate portfolio.

The “Jersey Shore” alum purchased a $2.6 million home in Florham Park with her husband Jionni LaValle, property records show.

The three-story colonial home on 165 Summit Road sold for $2,589,786. It features a brick facade and beige siding. It’s unclear if Polizzi plans to use the new construction as a second home. The property is one of a handful of new homes built by RNJ Contracting, an area real estate agent told NJ Advance Media today.

Zoning police coming to JC

Posted in New Jersey Real Estate, Politics | 77 Comments

From the Jersey Journal:

Jersey City says new plan would crack down on code violators; real-estate agents aghast

City officials are looking to embark on an aggressive new plan to ensure homes are compliant with local zoning rules.

But the measure, up for initial approval at tomorrow night’s Planning Board meeting, would be a “disaster” if implemented, according to critics who say it would bring the city’s real-estate market to a standstill.

The plan would require most property owners to obtain a zoning certificate of compliance before they can sell their properties, obtain building or demolition permits or perform any kind of site improvements. The certificate would be issued by a zoning officer who certifies that the property complies with city zoning codes.

Ward B City Councilman Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal is pushing for the measure, saying it would help the city to locate illegal apartments and other code violations, as well as offer consumer protection for home buyers.

Ramchal told The Jersey Journal the plan would halt what he says is a widespread practice of home owners duping buyers into purchasing homes without telling them about code violations like illegal parking spots or rental units.

“If John is selling a house to Tom, John must not misrepresent himself or what he’s selling to Tom,” he said.

Each certificate would cost $150. City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill declined to answer when asked how much revenue the city believes would be generated. Ramchal estimates the added revenue would exceed $250,000 annually.

Real-estate agents are hoping to halt approval of the measure, saying it would create an unacceptable “lag” during a house sale.

“It would reduce the number of sales in Jersey City by maybe 25, 30 percent,” said Hottendorf said.

Both Hottendorf and Laura Skolar, Liberty Board’s president, also doubt that the city’s outdated record-keeping will help. A certificate of compliance may not be issued quickly enough to prevent a mortgage commitment from expiring, they said.

“Using the sale of a property to trigger this sort of thing creates problems,” Skolar said.

Mayor Steve Fulop is a supporter of the measure. Asked to comment, Morrill said “there is no reason that someone should make money by breaking the law.”

“Chico has been a strong voice against illegal apartments that can put a tremendous drain on residents of the city,” she said. “His proposal is consistent with what is done in other cities.”

Bulldoze it all, turn it into a nature preserve

Posted in Economics, Employment, Politics, Property Taxes | 78 Comments

From the Philly Inquirer:

Casino closings have big impact on A.C. property-tax base

The loss of 8,000 jobs in Atlantic City’s casino industry in the last 12 months has sent shock waves through the region’s economy, but an even more precipitous collapse is underway in the city’s property-tax base.

Eight or nine years ago, casinos owned 85 percent of Atlantic City’s real estate, based on assessed values, Mayor Don Guardian said last week. Now, they account for about 55 percent of the assessed values and are expected to keep falling, he said.

A proposal by New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) to stabilize Atlantic City’s tax base by allowing the casinos, in aggregate, to pay a flat rate of $150 million this year and next year instead of volatile property taxes gained traction Wednesday when Atlantic City and Atlantic County agreed on how to split that money.

County Executive Dennis Levinson scheduled a meeting Monday to discuss the revenue agreement with Atlantic County mayors, who have had to raise property taxes to make up for declines in casino assessments.

A 2007 revaluation boosted the assessed value of all Atlantic City real estate to $20.5 billion from $8.2 billion, with casinos accounting for the bulk of the increase. But since 2010, appeals by casinos hurt by sagging revenue have gutted the tax rolls, which totaled just $11.3 billion in 2014, according to Atlantic County Board of Taxation records.

“We’re going to continue to spiral down with assessed values, probably more than $3 billion this year. We’re eventually going to get down to $7 billion before we level off,” Guardian said of the city’s overall assessments.

Casinos’ assessments have plummeted since 2010 from about $15 billion to less than $6 billion, based on values won on appeals. For example, New Jersey Tax Court in October 2013 slashed Borgata’s 2010 assessment to $870 million from $2.3 billion.

The collapsing value of casinos has forced a massive shift in taxes to residents, who for years benefited from the flow of out-of-staters’ gambling losses into the city’s coffers.

“New Jersey has been struggling.”

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Recovery, New Jersey Real Estate | 34 Comments

From the Star Ledger:

N.J. home prices, jobs struggling to rebound from recession

A new report shows the economic recovery remains a struggle in many parts of the country, including New Jersey, where more than half of the state’s counties have not yet returned to pre-recession levels on any of four key economic indicators.

While the country as a whole boasts more jobs than it did prior to the most recent economic downturn, the study from the National Association of Counties found only about a quarter of counties throughout the nation have been able to close the gap on four indicators — gross domestic product, employment, unemployment rates and home prices.
..
“The national story masks the reality on the ground,” Istrate said. “It does not tell you the full picture of what’s happening.”

While nearly three-quarters of county economies nationwide had recovered to pre-recession levels on at least one of the four indicators analyzed, 13 of the New Jersey’s 21 counties had not bounced back by any of those measures. None had reached previous levels in home prices or unemployment rates, according to the report.

Six counties — Bergen, Burlington, Hudson, Middlesex, Ocean and Somerset — have seen their gross domestic product recover from pre-recession peaks and Mercer County did not experience a recession by that indicator. Meanwhile, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Ocean and Union counties had recouped more jobs than they had before the most recent recession.

Joseph Seneca, an economics professor at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, said he was not surprised to see counties had not rebounded because “employment recovery in New Jersey as a whole from the Great Recession has been tepid at best.”

Patrick O’Keefe, a director of economic research at CohnReznick in Roseland, said New Jersey isn’t faring as well as the nation as a whole for several reasons. New Jersey is an expensive, highly regulated state with mature development patterns and slow population growth, he said.

“Those are constraints on the pace of growth anywhere in New Jersey,” he said.

71%? We need a 710% increase in foreclosures.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Foreclosures, New Jersey Real Estate | 114 Comments

From the Record:

Foreclosure activity up 71% in NJ, RealtyTrac says

Foreclosure activity rose 71 percent in New Jersey last year, as lenders continued to deal with a backlog of troubled properties, according to a report released Thursday.

At the same time, foreclosures nationwide dropped 18 percent, to the lowest level since before the recession.

About 1.9 percent of New Jersey housing units had foreclosure filings last year, compared with 0.85 percent in the nation, according to RealtyTrac, a California company that follows the distressed housing market.

New Jersey ranked second in the nation in the rate of all foreclosure filings, just behind Florida. The state ranked fifth in completed foreclosures – in which homes are repossessed by banks – which were up 34 percent.

Lenders are dealing with troubled Garden State properties that piled up when foreclosure activity slowed to a trickle in 2011, while courts and the mortgage industry dealt with reports of industry abuses. In addition, New Jersey is one of two dozen states that require that foreclosures go through the courts, which also slows the process.

In Bergen County, about 4,267 housing units faced foreclosure filings last year, ranging from a lender’s notice that the homeowner is in default on the mortgage all the way through to sale of the property at sheriff’s auction. That’s up 59 percent from the previous year. In Passaic, 3,741 units had filings, up 65 percent, RealtyTrac said.

Atlantic City had the highest rate of foreclosure filings of any metropolitan area of over 200,000 population in the nation, at 3 percent of housing units. The city has been hard hit by the recent closings of four of its casinos, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.

2015 – Will the big foreclosure clean out begin?

Posted in Foreclosures, New Jersey Real Estate | 65 Comments

From the Philly Inquirer:

Foreclosures down nationwide, still increasing in Phila. region

Foreclosure filings nationwide last year fell to their lowest level since 2006 and were down by more than a million properties from 2010′s recession-aftermath peak of roughly 2.87 million.

RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif., housing data and analytics provider that tracks filings across the United States, reported Thursday that last year’s 1,117,426 total filings, while down considerably from that peak, still represented an increase of 400,000 since the housing boom of the last decade began to go bust.

The company has said it considers the 500,000 foreclosure filings in 2005 a normal year. A single property may be represented by several filings as the financial and legal aspects of a foreclosure are worked out.

Despite the national decline in filings in 2014, portions of the housing market in the eight-county Philadelphia region are still mired in foreclosures, short sales, and bank repossessions, the RealtyTrac data show.

According to RealtyTrac, “The list of states with increased activity in the last months of 2014 includes those with judicial foreclosure backlogs, such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.”

Such backlogs mean that in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the foreclosure process often takes three years or more. Many mortgage lenders deferred pursuing foreclosures because of the backlogs, and the 2014 increase reflected attempts to catch up.

Last year, New Jersey had the second-highest increase nationally in filings, RealtyTrac said, and was No. 2 among the 50 states in number of filings.

The number of bank-owned repossessions – houses that went all the way through New Jersey’s lengthy foreclosure process – rose 34 percent statewide, to 5,780, over 2013′s level, the RealtyTrac report said. Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester Counties accounted for about 18 percent of 2014 filings statewide.

Nunnenkamp added that “there are still numerous abandoned homes that have not come to the market yet, which could increase the percentage.”

These are “zombie houses” – more than 6,100 in the eight-county region – vacated by borrowers at the start of never-completed foreclosure proceedings.