From the Press of Atlantic City:
The amount of distressed real estate is expected to increase as unemployed workers who lost jobs in 2014 fall behind on mortgage payments — and as the state’s six months of unemployment benefits run out.
Employment in Atlantic County dropped 8,400 from December 2013 to 126,100 in December 2014, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
Area economies in South Jersey had lost thousands of jobs before 2014.
Daren Blomquist, vice president of market research firm RealtyTrac, said what’s happening in South Jersey is happening in New Jersey as a whole, only more so.
In one year, 2014, foreclosure filings in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean counties rose 94 percent, 85 percent, 97 percent and 79 percent, respectively, California-based RealtyTrac says.
This includes initial filings, notices of sale and bank repossession.
The state average increased 70 percent. Nationally it dropped 18 percent.
But Blomquist expects foreclosure activity in the area to rise from job losses last year.
“We haven’t seen the full impact of those on the foreclosure numbers yet, and, yes, unfortunately that means it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better,” he said.
Foreclosures take a long time in New Jersey, a judicial foreclosure state, where it takes more than 1,000 days, second only to Hawaii, Blomquist said.
Short sales in Atlantic County represented 11 percent of all sales from January to October 2014, Blomquist said, an increase of 2 percentage points from that period a year ago. In a short sale, the lender agrees to retire the mortgage for an amount less than the principal still owed.
Blomquist said such data may indicate banks are more willing to work with short sales in harder-hit real estate markets.