From the Star Ledger:
While the future of the ailing resort shore city rests in the hands of Trenton lawmakers, the local residential real estate is reeling.
The Atlantic City area vacancy rate is now among the top-five metropolitan statistical markets in the nation — a list led by the struggling cities of Flint, Mich., and Detroit — according to the California-based housing firm RealtyTrac.
The number of vacant homes in the local market, which includes the town of Hammonton, has reached 3.7 percent of its roughly 112,000 residential properties, or 4,191, in the first quarter of this year.
Nationally, vacancy rates have dropped by .2 percent since RealtyTrac’s September analysis of the market when 1.5 million properties were unoccupied. The February report shows that out of 85 million residential properties in the country, 1.3 million are currently vacant.
The vacancy rate in the Atlantic City metro area trails only four other metropolitan areas with more than 100,000 homes:
1. Flint, Michigan with 7.5 percent or 11,605 vacant houses
2. Detroit with 5.3 percent or 8,119
3. Youngstown, Ohio, with 4.4 percent or 6,979
4. Beaumont, Texas with 3.8 percent or 4,695
5. Atlantic City, New Jersey with 3.7 percent or 4,191
According to the analysis, 17 percent of the vacant properties in the Atlantic City metro area are underwater, which means the home loan is higher than the market-price of the property, in an area where in 2015 the foreclosure rate was more than four-times the national average.
Statewide last year, the foreclosure rate was the highest in the county as the national number of distressed properties has dipped to a nine-year low, according to a report in January.
New Jersey also saw one of the largest increases in “zombie” foreclosures — properties abandoned by the owner but not yet in bank’s possession — up 49 percent from a year ago.