The most recent data regarding foreclosures across the country, including here in New Jersey, indicates that numbers have finally fallen to pre-mortgage crisis levels. Much of this is attributed to economic growth and the fact that lenders are clearing out foreclosed inventory. Despite these encouraging statistics, there are still numerous homeowners who cannot stop foreclosure proceedings from being filed against them.
This might seem like an odd question, but it is one that many people ask themselves. Not everyone in who owns a home here in New Jersey or elsewhere wants to fight to keep it. If your mortgage is underwater and you do not want to keep your home, you could be asking yourself what to do about it.
Since the housing market crashed and the recession began, New Jersey has been one of the hardest hit states for foreclosures. Since 2011, foreclosure filings in the state rose each year -- that is, until 2015, when they actually declined. Even so, the number of foreclosures being filed due to delinquent mortgage loan debt remains high.
It has been several years since the housing market crashed and three years since Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey. However, the amount of outstanding and delinquent mortgage debt in the state has moved it to the number one spot in the nation for foreclosures. Now that certain deadlines and requirements set by the state legislature and courts have passed, the floodgates are opening.
As many New Jersey homeowners continue to struggle to keep their homes, some are hanging their hopes on a loan modification. However, qualifying for this type of mortgage debt relief could actually make a homeowner's financial situation worse. This is because many loan modifications are not offered to borrowers until the situation is dire.
New Jersey homeowners may need to be aware that the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that a second mortgage on the filer's residence may not be considered an unsecured debt and be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Even if the value of the home is less than the first mortgage, the second lien will not automatically be stripped. The case originated after Bank of America insisted that the second lien of a Chapter 7 filer remain intact, even if the bank will not receive any proceeds from the sale of the home.
Here in New Jersey, foreclosure proceedings can take nearly three years to complete on average. This means that homeowners may be kept in limbo for several years -- from the day the lender's notice of intention is filed through the completion of the sheriff's sale. Legislators have decided to attempt to stop foreclosure actions from taking so long to complete.
The crash of the housing market back in 2008 is still affecting millions of homeowners across the country. Many New Jersey residents who hoped their homes would increase in value when they bought them before the housing crisis are still struggling with declining home values. For some of them, bankruptcy could be the only way to stop foreclosure.
Between the Great Recession and Super Storm Sandy, the New Jersey housing market was hit particularly hard in comparison to the rest of the country. While foreclosures dropped in 2014 for the nation as a whole, they rose to 71 percent in the state. That means that an abundance of homeowners were unable to stop foreclosure proceedings from being filed by their lenders.
Regardless of the fact that most information shows the economy is steadily recovering, foreclosure and mortgage delinquency numbers do not paint as optimistic a picture. Between Oct. 2014 and Nov. 2014, delinquent mortgage debt rose approximately 11.8 percent. That percentage equates to nearly 400,000 mortgage loans, which makes the total about 3.9 million nationwide. Many of the homes that are in jeopardy of being foreclosed are here in New Jersey.