While national figures on foreclosure showed a 26 percent decline in 2013, the number of foreclosure filings in New Jersey soared by 44 percent. By the end of the year, 1.1 percent of homes in the state were in foreclosure.

Pennsylvania saw foreclosure filings rise as well, though by a more modest 12.5 percent.  There, the state experienced a higher rate of foreclosure filings in 2013 than in 2008 and 2009, a period some regard as the peak of the foreclosure crisis.

Both states require all foreclosures to go through the court system. This can create a backlog of cases, causing the foreclosure crisis to play out in slow motion. 

At the same time that financial challenges have led to more families losing their homes, foreclosure fraud has slowed down the legal process, as judges scrutinize cases more thoroughly. Even a temporary halt to foreclosures decreed by the New Jersey Supreme Court didn’t give the system enough breathing room to clear all the older cases.

In 2013 in New Jersey, new foreclosure cases rose by 54 percent.

While the delays may be frustrating for all parties, the fact that New Jersey requires foreclosures to have their day in court can benefit homeowners. Mortgage lenders have fewer opportunities to game the system when they have to lay the facts of the case before a judge. The extra time it takes to finalize a foreclosure – almost three years, up from only about 10 months before the recession – may allow  time for families to consult an attorney about their rights.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, “Foreclosures up locally, bucking national trend,” Jeff Blumenthal, Jan. 23, 2014