From the Star Ledger:
As the New Jersey real estate market tries to get its footing back, more evidence was released this week showing the terrain is uneven.
New home building in the Northeast hit the skids last month, but at the same time fewer New Jersey homeowners received foreclosure notices, according to the latest state and federal statistics.
Construction of new homes in the region fell 18.8 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 56,000 from 69,000 in September — the biggest percentage drop in the country, according to the Commerce Department. That included a nearly 10 percent decline in single-family homes.
Meanwhile, for the first time this year, the number of residential foreclosure filings was actually lower than the same period in 2008, according to the state judiciary.
Lenders started 4,991 foreclosure proceedings against New Jersey homeowners in October, down from 5,262 during the same month last year.
The state is retreating from a foreclosure filings high in June, when 6,138 foreclosure notices were recorded.
More than 2,600 New Jerseyans have received counseling through the state’s Foreclosure Mediation Program, Gov. Jon Corzine said earlier this fall. About 1,450 cases have been completed, and roughly half of the homeowners were able to stay in their homes.
In New Jersey, foreclosure filings from September to October in Cumberland and Warren counties increased by the widest margins — 8.75 percent and 11.29 percent, respectively, while filings in Hunterdon and Passaic counties decreased the most — 32.1 percent and 27.5 percent, respectively.
Unemployment is the main reason homeowners are falling behind, said Joseph Seneca, a professor of economics at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. While the economy is likely out of recession, the state’s unemployment rate is now only starting to retreat from a record 26-year-high of 9.8 percent. The state’s jobless rate for October was 9.7 percent.
“Looking forward, it’s hard to pull the trigger on any big purchases, such as homes,” Seneca said of the housing climate in the state.