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.
Most New Jersey residents are keenly aware that the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy continues to wreak havoc on people's lives. In response, the New Jersey legislature is working to temporarily stop foreclosure on homes that were damaged in the storm. If the legislation is passed, affected homeowners would receive a three-year moratorium on foreclosure.
A New Jersey man facing foreclosure decided to fight his mortgage lender in an effort to keep his home. Recently, the judge decided that the lender was not entitled to proceed with the foreclosure because it waited too long to pursue an action to collect the mortgage debt. The statute of limitations to bring an action for foreclosure is six years.
Years after the official end of the recession, many New Jersey residents are still facing the threat of losing their homes. Some homeowners became desperate enough between 2006 and 2009 to believe a company's promises to stop foreclosure. Recently, the architects of what federal officials believe was a lease buyback scam were arrested, which may leave many homeowners wondering what happens next.
Even though it has been several years since the housing market crashed, new foreclosures are still being filed here in New Jersey. Homeowners who may still be dealing with unpaid mortgage debt and facing foreclosure are filing some papers of their own. Homeowners seem to be fighting back by filing complaints aimed at debt collectors and mortgage companies.
The overall number of foreclosure filings may be dropping, and the housing market may be rebounding, but the mess left by the crash of the real estate market is still being cleaned up. Thousands of homes in which the homeowners were unable to stop foreclosure are sitting empty. These so-called "Zombie Foreclosures" have increased an astounding 58 percent in New Jersey in the last year.
On Dec. 31 of last year, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, which made it possible for many homeowners to avoid paying taxes on debt forgiveness due to foreclosure or short sale, expired. Many are hopeful that Congress will renew the Act, which became law in 2007. Even though the law appears to have sufficient support, Congress has yet to make a determination regarding renewal of it. This has -- and may -- cause numerous homeowners in New Jersey and across the country to file for bankruptcy after a short sale of their homes.