From the Star Ledger:
Foreclosures activity in New Jersey fell last month, according to a new report, but the state’s foreclosure rate still remains near the highest in the country.
New Jersey had more than 4,600 foreclosure filings in January, a decrease of 63 percent from the previous month, the RealtyTrac report shows, and a dip of 20 percent from the same time last year. The decline in filings came as the state experienced a sharp dropoff in the number of homes beginning the foreclosure process. New Jersey had roughly 2,100 foreclosure starts in January, an 80 percent drop from the previous month and a 54 percent decline from January 2014.
Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based firm that tracks housing data, said that big drop may be a “light at the end of the tunnel” for a state working through a “massive backlog” of distressed properties.
“We’re getting closer to the beginning of the end of this working through the backlog,” he said.
The number of filings dropped off significantly in New Jersey in 2011 as the courts and lenders responded to reports of irregular foreclosure practices, creating a logjam that has been slow to clear. The foreclosure process in New Jersey is also time-consuming.
Peter Reinhart, director of the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University, said “one month does not a trend make” but he said the state should be nearing an end on this issue.
Reinhart noted that the backlogs lenders had in foreclosures have been working their way through the judicial process. Also, he said, “the market has improved a lot” and “job growth, while still behind a lot of states, is definitely better.”
The foreclosure rate in Atlantic City ranked the highest nationwide among metropolitan areas with a population of at least 200,000. One in every 338 housing units had a foreclosure filing in January in that area, which has been dealing with the fallout from shuttering casinos and disappearing jobs.
Within New Jersey, four of the five counties with the highest foreclosure rates sit in the southern half of the state. Atlantic County tops the list followed by Burlington, Sussex, Camden and Gloucester counties. Hudson County posted the lowest foreclosure rate in the state in January, according to data from RealyTrac.