From the Press of Atlantic City:
As Atlantic City’s decline drew national attention in August, the area rose to national prominence in another metric.
One out of every 292 Atlantic County homes was in the foreclosure process in August, making the area’s foreclosure rate second-worst in the nation, according to housing information firm RealtyTrac.
But while experts say the surge is largely the result of cases finally moving through the state’s backlogged legal system, the casino closings could prove devastating down the road.
“Our data shows the average foreclosure process in New Jersey is over 1,000 days, so I would say it’s probably too early (to reflect casino closings),” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac. “Unfortunately, (the loss of jobs) is probably going to mean this will add on to that trend we’ve already been seeing.”
Cumberland County fared almost as poorly as Atlantic County in August, with one in 307 homes with a foreclosure listing.
The area’s growing distressed-property market comes as the nation has seen a 7 percent increase in foreclosure filings — amounting to one in every 1,126 housing units — compared to July. Even so, filings are 9 percent lower than August a year ago.
New Jersey’s foreclosure rate rose 71 percent in August compared to the same month last year, ranking it sixth among 24 states in year-over-year rise.
Local real estate agent Edward Augsberger, of Weichert Realtors’ Wildwood office, said he expects the volume of foreclosures to rise as paychecks dwindle and, in many cases, disappear.
“Right now, I think you’ve got some properties with homeowners that are barely scraping by, and they just lost their job,” Augsberger said. “It’s going to get uglier.”
Losco said he’s recently been advising clients to make an honest appraisal of their futures. If they expect to maintain employment and would prefer to stay in the area for several years, they should weather the storm — but if the next few years are muddier, it might be time to pack up.
“I think people need to pay attention and make some realistic choices,” Losco said. “If they wait, all the figures could line up against them and decrease value. Or are they going to do the best they can now before all these issues come into play?”