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Experts waiting for foreclosure wave in New Jersey

With the recession and sluggish economic recovery, many New Jersey homeowners are still finding themselves underwater on their mortgages -- with little relief in sight. And since a state court put an end to the unofficial moratorium on foreclosures in August, experts are waiting for a new wave of foreclosures to hit the state.

Large banks had essentially halted foreclosure proceedings in most states in the wake of the "robo-signing" scandal, which exposed many banks' careless procedures in processing mortgages and payments. There are nearly 30,000 homes currently in the foreclosure process in New Jersey, with the average foreclosure process taking 708 days during the moratorium. There was a small increase in foreclosures after the court ruling, with 1,190 in August compared to 859 in July.

But many experts view the small uptick as a pittance compared to the increase in foreclosures that they see coming. There had been 68 percent fewer foreclosure filings at the end of August as compared to a year prior. Now a massive wave of foreclosures could depress home values even further.

And as banks start to ramp up foreclosure actions again, some experts predict that the pain will hit the most urban and rural counties the hardest. Median home prices have declined 11.2 percent in 2011 as compared to a year ago, and urban median home values have fallen 6.9 percent. The more suburban and exclusive areas closer to New York City have not fared as poorly.

As foreclosures start to increase, New Jersey homeowners struggling to make ends meet should consider consulting with an attorney experienced with foreclosure cases. There are options out there for people who are on the brink of losing their homes through no fault of their own, but they need to know where to look.

Source: The New York Times, "Many foreclosures, few listings," Antoinette Martin, Oct. 14, 2011

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