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.
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.