New Jersey still leads the nation in foreclosure rate

A look at why foreclosures are common in New Jersey and what struggling homeowners can do.

While the 2008 Financial Crisis is now eight years in the past, not all states have equally benefited from the economic recovery. New Jersey is one place where many residents are continuing to struggle, with the foreclosure rate in the Garden State the highest in the nation, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. New Jersey's high foreclosure rate, which is particularly bad in struggling cities such as Atlantic City and Trenton, should serve as a reminder to every New Jersian to become better informed about their rights and options if they find themselves the victim of foreclosure.

New Jersey foreclosure rates

Data from RealtyTrac shows that during the first six months of 2016 the foreclosure rate in New Jersey 0.98 percent of all housing units, which is double the national average of 0.40 percent. That means the foreclosure rate is higher in New Jersey than in any other state in the country.

Furthermore, Atlantic County, home of Atlantic City, had the highest foreclosure rate of all metropolitan areas in the country, at 1.8 percent of all housing units. The city's growing foreclosure problem is likely a reflection of its struggling gambling industry. Trenton had the second-highest foreclosure rate, with 1.31 percent of housing units foreclosed during the first six months of this year.

Foreclosure options

The threat of foreclosure is a daily reality for many New Jersians. While foreclosure is a frightening prospect, homeowners should know that they have options and rights if they are threatened with foreclosure. As U.S. News & World Report points out, foreclosure is subject to a legal process and lenders must abide by that process. Failing to do so could help homeowners stay in their homes. For that reason, homeowners who are facing foreclosure should talk with an attorney as soon as possible to see whether the lender has abided by the legal requirements for foreclosure.

An attorney can also help homeowners negotiate with their lender. While refinancing a mortgage is difficult for people who are already facing foreclosure, modifying an existing mortgage is often possible. An attorney can negotiate on the homeowner's behalf for a modification of mortgage payments so that they are more manageable.

Considering bankruptcy

Another option for people facing foreclosure may be bankruptcy. While bankruptcy sounds like a scary word, it may offer hope to those who are dealing with an insurmountable amount of debt. Through bankruptcy, people who are struggling to keep up with their bills may have an opportunity to not only get their finances in order but to remain in their homes. A bankruptcy attorney can assist those who are struggling with mortgage and other payments, including by informing them about whether filing for bankruptcy may be in their best interests.