From the Star Ledger:
Foreclosure activity in New Jersey jumped in August, a new report shows, leaving the state with one of the highest foreclosure rates nationwide.
New Jersey has the nation’s fourth-highest foreclosure rate, according to housing data released today by RealtyTrac, with foreclosure filings on one in every 553 homes in the state. Only Florida, Nevada and Maryland had higher foreclosure rates. Housing and real estate experts attributed the steep increase to a backlog of foreclosures that are now moving through the system.
Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said the foreclosure process in New Jersey had become dysfunctional over the last years and now he said, “it’s slowly but surely returning to a functional” process.
The foreclosure process started on nearly 4,500 homes in New Jersey last month, an increase of 115 percent from August 2013. Scheduled foreclosure auctions saw a 71 percent increase during the same time frame, to the highest level since July 2010.
Of the five counties in New Jersey with the highest foreclosure rates, four are in the southern half of the state. Atlantic County leads the pack followed by Cumberland, Sussex, Salem and Camden counties.
In Atlantic City, where casinos have been shuttering, foreclosure activity increased on a year-over-year basis for the 28th time in the last 30 months.
According to RealtyTrac, the city’s foreclosure rate ranked the second highest for a metropolitan area nationwide. One in every 292 housing units in the city had a foreclosure filing in August. That’s nearly four times the national average, the report said.
“New Jersey has a judicial foreclosure process, which takes much longer to carry out and has caused backlogs in courts around the state,” said Jarrod Grasso, CEO of the New Jersey Association of Realtors. “We know that many homeowners have faced foreclosure in the last few years, so it makes sense that the cases are now starting to be processed.”
Daniel Boddy, a real estate agent at Century 21 Frick Realtors in Galloway, said he’s noticed a jump in foreclosure activity throughout the area recently.
“Not necessarily just in Atlantic City, but in our area in general they are up a lot higher than they were last year,” he said.
Boddy also attributed the increase in foreclosures to an easing of a logjam of cases, in part caused by a freeze on foreclosures by major mortgage firms, and the state’s lengthy foreclosure process.
“It’s not something that is just starting to happen because of casino closings,” Boddy said. But, he said, “those aren’t going to help.”