From the Press of Atlantic City:
South Jersey real estate continues to be hit hard by distressed properties, Atlantic County most of all.
Lenders started foreclosure actions against 399 homeowners in the county in the first three months of this year. There were also 476 notices of sheriff’s sale and 328 bank repossessions, all as reported by RealtyTrac, a company that researches foreclosure data nationwide.
Combined, this meant there was some level of foreclosure activity on more than 1,200 homes, or one out of every 106 homes in the county in the first quarter. That kept Atlantic County in the top position on RealtyTrac’s list of more than 3,100 counties across the U.S. for foreclosure activity.
Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles says that when he took office in 2009, “we were probably averaging about 200 to 250 (sales) a year. Last year, there were a little over 2,100.”
When he started, it was normal to see one or two people looking to bid. Now, he sees closer to 50, often more.
“We’re seeing the biggest year-to-year increases in the number of distressed assets hitting the market that we’ve ever seen,” says D’Alicandro, a past president of the Atlantic City & County Board of Realtors.
“These are properties not cared for and maintained by homeowners. In a lot of cases, they were abandoned, in some cases years ago. They may be damaged, vandalized and sometimes stripped on the way out,” he says.
“When you go from 5 to 6 percent bank-foreclosed properties up to double digits … being distressed sales, and when they’re selling for 25 to 30 percent below what they would sell for in good condition, that has an impact on the median sales price,” D’Alicandro added.
March figures from the New Jersey Association of Realtors show part of that impact.
The median sale price for an Atlantic County home last month was $184,000, down from $211,500 in the same month last year. That’s a 13 percent drop, NJAR reported.
Median prices also dropped in Cape May County, from $305,000 last March to $260,000 last month for single-family sales, a 14.8 percent cut.
NJAR also reported gains in Ocean County in both categories, with the total number of sales going up 18 percent and the median price hitting $261,000, a jump of 5.7 percent over a year earlier.
Still, foreclosures are a concern all around South Jersey, with the four local counties all showing up in the top 11 percent in nationwide foreclosure activity.
In Cumberland County, one home in every 159 had some foreclosure activity in the first quarter of this year. And in Ocean County, the rate was one out of every 221.