From the Philly Inquirer:
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.