From the Record:
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.