N.J. foreclosures fall faster than most of U.S., report finds

//February 11, 2010//

N.J. foreclosures fall faster than most of U.S., report finds

//February 11, 2010//

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But economist cautions a single month of data is not indicative of a trend.New Jersey foreclosure filings were down 39.3 percent in January compared to December 2009, beating out a 9.7 percent fall in national filings, according to a report issued Thursday by Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac, which tracks and sells foreclosure information.

But an economist cautions against reading too much into the one-month numbers.

New Jersey posted 6,146 foreclosure filings in January, or one for every 572 housing units, according to the report, which ranked the state as 16th highest in the nation among foreclosures.

Despite the month-to-month improvement, New Jersey foreclosures were still up 22.8 percent from the year-ago-period, compared to a 15.1 percent year-over-year national jump, RealtyTrac reported.

“January foreclosure numbers are exhibiting a pattern very similar to a year ago: a double-digit percentage jump in December foreclosure activity, followed by a 10 percent drop in January,” said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac chief executive officer. “If history repeats itself, we will see a surge in the numbers over the next few months, as lenders foreclose on delinquent loans where neither the existing loan modification programs or the new short sale and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure alternatives works.”

But “people shouldn’t get too excited by a one-month outsized change,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. “If we get two months or more of positive numbers, it may signal a meaningful trend.”

New Jersey’s showing may have beaten the national average because the state “never had the massive overbuilding or housing bubble that California and other states did,” said Naroff, whose Holland, Pa., economic research and consulting firm advises businesses in New Jersey and elsewhere.

“People who got carried away with adjustable rate mortgages in 2006 and 2007 may finally be working their way through the system,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if New Jersey does better than the nation through the rest of this year and 2011, despite some possible bumps along the way.”

E-mail Martin C. Daks at [email protected]