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.
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.
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.
Several settlements have been brokered with mortgage servicers over the last few years over questionable mortgage practices. Now, the fourth largest mortgage service in the country, Ocwen Financial Corporation and Ocwen Loan Servicing, the subsidiary of Ocwen Financial, has agreed to a $2.1 billion settlement. An estimated 1,900 New Jersey residents could receive a portion of the settlement and possibly stop foreclosure if they are in danger of losing their homes.
In many states, families whose home loans are being foreclosed are given an average of 30 days to vacate the home. However, as the people who live here already know, New Jersey is not like other states. In our state, when a homeowner is unable to stop foreclosure, they may get to stay in their home during the foreclosure process, which could take up to 1,000 days.
It has been said that the number of foreclosures has gone down across the country. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case here in New Jersey. Many homeowners are still struggling to stop foreclosure of their homes.
The housing market may be recovering in some states, but in New Jersey, there are still problems. The percentage of homeowners that are still trying to stop foreclosure of their homes is over six percent. This may be due, at least in part, to the judicial foreclosure process since some non-judicial foreclosure states are seeing rates below two percent.