Foreclosures nationwide are on the retreat. In New Jersey last year foreclosure filings fell by 73%. According to a study by RealtyTrac, about 1.8 million properties were involved in foreclosure activity last year, a drop of about 34% in 2010.

Daren Blomquist, a spokesman for RealtyTrac, says the bad news is that filings in New Jersey are expected to increase this year when the state Supreme Court reaches a decision on a foreclosure challenge case.

"I think we will see in the second half of 2012 an uptick in the state as the lenders finally start to catch up with those delays."

Blomquist says about 400,000 more homes would have reposessed last year without delays in the process.

"New Jersey had the nation's second largest foreclosure process at 964 days and that really contributed to and exagerated the sharp decrease that we saw in foreclosure activity in 2011."

About 17,500 properties in New Jersey had forelclosure filings last year. Nevada, Arizona and California had the highest rates of foreclosure activity, according to the study.

"We do see the housing market started to improve...the peak of foreclosures was in 2010 and over the next few years, foreclosures are going to start returning to a much more normal level" said Blomquist.