N.J. Foreclosures Are Slowest In Nation

The Record ( — Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Record

The average time it takes for a foreclosure to be completed in New Jersey has stretched to more than three years — the longest in the nation — according to a new report from RealtyTrac, a California company that follows the foreclosure market nationwide.

New Jersey is one of about two-dozen states where foreclosures go through the courts, slowing down the process.

And Peggy Jurow, a Montclair lawyer who defends homeowners facing foreclosure, said the three-year average is misleading because it includes some cases that were stalled after state courts declared a moratorium in 2010, until questions about mortgage industry abuses were addressed.

Cases filed since 2012, she said, are moving much more quickly.

"If you come to me with a case that was filed last week, that case can be concluded in nine to 12 months," Jurow said.

Foreclosure activity in the state is running 68 percent ahead of last year's rate, RealtyTrac also reported. RealtyTrac measures all foreclosure filings, ranging from the mortgage servicer's notice that it is starting a foreclosure through to a sheriff's auction of the property.

"We continue to see an increase in foreclosures in Passaic County," said County Clerk Kristin Corrado. "It's unfortunate." So far this year, she said, there have been 830 initial foreclosure notices in the county, up from 656 in the comparable period last year.

In Bergen County, foreclosure activity climbed 33 percent from March 2013 to March 2014, according to RealtyTrac.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, head of New Jersey Citizen Action, the state's largest housing counselor, said the situation is becoming more dire for many households because several state programs aimed at helping troubled homeowners are winding down and running out of funds.

"The only thing that's left is loan modification by lenders, and if the lenders aren't willing to do principle reduction, a lot of these people have been put out of their homes," she said.

The worst of the foreclosure crisis has passed in the nation as a whole, according to RealtyTrac. Nationally, foreclosure activity in the first quarter dropped back to the pre-recession levels of 2007.

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