According to RealtyTrac, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, a total of 2,304,941 foreclosure filings were reported in 2012. That figure is down 36 percent from its peak in 2010 and down three percent from last year.

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In New Jersey, however, foreclosure filings increased in 2012 by 55 percent.

Many homeowners going through the foreclosure process over the past couple of years were offered a break from the action when the federal government stepped in to address “robo-signing” foreclosure processing. Early last year, a $25 billion settlement was made between five mortgage lenders and 49 states, including New Jersey, sending the process into overdrive.

“We expect to see continued increases in judicial foreclosure states near the beginning of the year as lenders finish catching up with the backlogs in those states," explained Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

Other findings from the report:

  • The average time to complete a foreclosure nationwide in the fourth quarter increased 8 percent from the previous quarter to a record-high 414 days.
  • In January 2013, 10.9 million homeowners nationwide — representing 26 percent of all outstanding homes with a mortgage — were seriously underwater, meaning they owed at least 25 percent more on their home than what it was worth. That was down from 12.5 million homeowners representing 28 percent of all homes with a mortgage a year earlier in January 2012.