September 30, 2019
Where Foreclosures Are Still a Crisis—and the Laws that May Help
A report on mortgages released by Black Knight in late 2018 revealed that the states with the highest foreclosure rates over the course of that year were, in order, Mississippi (with a 2.36 percent foreclosure rate), Louisiana (with at 2.05 percent foreclosure rate), West Virginia (with a 1.81 percent foreclosure rate), and New Jersey (where the rate was 1.77 percent). Looking at these rates of foreclosure, a trend is apparent: the top three are southern states with relatively low levels of industrialization and urban community. Which is why the inclusion of New Jersey at place four makes some observers of these numbers cock their heads.
The majority of New Jersey’s foreclosures have been in Atlantic County, which has been harder hit than almost any other county in the nation by foreclosures in recent years.
But another difference between these states is in their evident eagerness to pass legislation to contend with such crises. New Jersey is taking a typically northern tack: in April, its Governor, Phil Murphy, signed into law nine bills aimed to ensure that local communities could still obtain the tax revenues to avoid blight. The package was bi-partisan in origin, and aimed to both aid homeowners facing foreclosure and to aid in “community revival,” using various tactics to address blighted properties. The new laws create room for communities to renovate the properties in order to bring in more revenue.
One of the provisions in these laws is for housing counseling. According to New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency Executive Director Charles A. Richman, as reported by Patch.com, “Counseled homeowners are nearly three times as likely to have their loans modified, and 70 percent more likely to remain current after modification. That why we have heavily invested our efforts on working to get families the counseling help they need.”
Another of the bills creates a permanent mediation program based on the state’s Judiciary’s Foreclosure Mediation Program, designed to increase the number of homeowners that go into mediation as well as making more likely that homeowners will receive the counseling mentioned above.
At Topouzis & Associates, P.C., we perform title searches and remedy problems of title in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Florida—where, fortunately, foreclosures are not at crisis levels. We back our services with title insurance for both lenders and owners. Contact us if you’re considering purchasing a new property, whether for yourself or as an investment, so we can help ensure that you achieve true ownership of your property without having to deal with unforeseen hassles arising from problems—including foreclosures—created by someone else in the past.