NEWARK, NJ – January 21, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today held a roundtable discussion with a wide-range of stakeholders in his Newark office to develop solutions to tackle New Jersey’s foreclosure crisis. New Jersey’s foreclosure rate outpaces every other state and is two and one-half times the national rate. The Garden State also leads the nation in so-called “zombie” foreclosures, in which the mortgage servicer decides against completing the foreclosure process without notifying the homeowner, leaving long-vacated homes abandoned and the distressed homeowner on the hook for back taxes and fees.
“More than 35,000 New Jersey families faced foreclosure in 2015. These are real families that have lost jobs, seen their life savings pillaged by the economic crisis, and have been confronted with excruciatingly difficult choices about debt and their children’s futures,” said Sen. Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development. “And beyond the household itself, high volumes of foreclosures in a community can in short order lead to devastating impacts for the neighborhood at large, blight and crime weighing down the values of neighboring homes.”
New Jersey foreclosure numbers:
In 2015, New Jersey had the highest foreclosure rate in the country, 1.91 percent. The national foreclosure rate for 2015 was 0.82 percent.
In 2015, there were more than 35,000 foreclosure filings in New Jersey.
Atlantic City (3.43 percent) and Trenton (2.14) are listed among the metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates in 2015.
New Jersey leads the country in zombie foreclosures with 3,997. New Jersey has the highest share of zombie foreclosures as a percentage of total vacant properties with 9.4%.
In 2015, New Jersey was one of six states to see a year-over-year increase in zombie foreclosures, up 29%. Nationwide, zombie foreclosures are down by 43%.
10.4% of homes in New Jersey are underwater (approximately 193,000 homes). Nationwide, 8.1% of homes are underwater.
Sen. Menendez last year, led a letter to Secretary Julian Castro and Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen about the “zombie” foreclosure situation in New Jersey, and introduced the Preserving American Homeownership Act, that would create a program in which banks could reduce the mortgage principal for eligible homeowners and in exchange be entitled to a portion of any increase in the value of the home down the road.
“New Jersey leads the nation in foreclosures, and our residents and neighborhoods continue to pay the price for the lack of action on this issue at the state level. We are glad that Senator Menendez is looking at ways to address this albatross, and to restore our economy and bring hope to homeowners who need it,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “We need investments in foreclosure prevention measures like housing counseling and stronger incentives for mortgage modification to help families stay in their homes. We also need tools to empower towns to transform vacant and abandoned foreclosed properties into productive use to stabilize distressed communities.”
“We recognize that there is a foreclosure problem in New Jersey and we are committed to working with our partners to address this crisis,” said Michael Affuso, executive vice president of the N.J. Bankers Association. “We applaud Senator Menendez for his leadership on this issue.”
“Addressing foreclosure, and taking measures to both help those in the process and prevent other homeowners from facing that situation, is always top of mind for Realtors,” said Tg Glazer, president of the New Jersey Realtors. “We are pleased to work with Senator Menendez and other legislators to help Americans across the country with smart laws and regulations regarding foreclosure to help keep more people in their homes.”
Participating in today’s foreclosure discussion were: Michael Affuso, N.J. Bankers Association; Christian Estevez, Latino Action Network; Staci Berger and Arnold Cohen, Housing and Community Development Network; Professor Linda Fisher, Seton Hall School of Law; Tg Glazer and Bruce Shapiro, New Jersey Realtors; Mike Levine, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Reg. 2; Alle Ries and Sofi Cordero, La Casa de Don Pedro; Phillis Salowe-Kaye, N.J. Citizen Action; Michael McNeil; N.J. NAACP; and Wayne Meyer, N.J. Community Capital.
Steven_Sandberg (at) menendez.senate (dot) gov