Although the United States generally is witnessing an easing of the mortgage foreclosure crisis, as we have recently discussed recent statistics show that New Jersey remains somewhat mired in it. Foreclosure activity in the state in February was twice what it was one year prior and the state ranks fourth in the number of vacant home foreclosures, according to recent statistics.

One of every 739 housing units reportedly faced a foreclosure filing last month. And since the third quarter of 2013, there has been a significant 24 percent increase in the number of homes that were vacant or in foreclosure in the densely populated state. At the same time, foreclosure activity dropped an average of 27 percent in the United States overall.

Part of the continued high foreclosure numbers could stem from the fact that the state foreclosure process is slow-moving, taking an average of well over two years to complete. New Jersey foreclosures go through the state courts and, until recently, there has been a significant and unresolved backlog problem. Some of the delay related to efforts to deal with questions around abuse of homeowners’ rights and some were simply related to the high number of filings.

Nevertheless, the courts have been working hard to unclog the backup created by record numbers of proceedings and have instituted new tracking measures. In the meantime, however, just less than 9,000 homes remain vacant and in foreclosure, remaining in the process.

New Jersey homeowners who are facing foreclosure would be wise to take heed of the judicial process involved and become acquainted with their rights. Seeking legal advice when faced with the potential loss of a home is one way to help ensure the exploration of all available options.

Source: NorthJersey.com, “N.J. fourth in nation in number of vacant foreclosures,” Kathleen Lynn, March 14, 2014