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‘Zombie Foreclosures’ Plague New Jersey [AUDIO]

The foreclosure picture overall is not pleasant in New Jersey, but the Garden State is also a leading contributor to a specific type of foreclosure that could be damaging property values across the state.

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Joe Raedle, Getty Images

In New Jersey at the beginning of 2014, nearly 8,600 homes in the foreclosure process were vacated by the distressed homeowner, according to housing data site RealtyTrac. These “zombie foreclosures” are not following the routine process, which usually includes a homeowner still on the premises, or one who’s keeping constant contact with their lender.

Owner-vacated foreclosures jumped by 24 percent in New Jersey between the third quarter of 2013 and January of this year.

Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, said these scenarios are preventing the foreclosure process from going forward in many cases, and they’re a burden on the housing market overall.

“They’re sitting there vacant. They fall into disrepair. Nobody is responsible for maintaining them,” Blomquist explained. “They’re often the biggest eyesores in a given neighborhood because of that situation, dragging down surrounding home values.”

Blomquist noted the properties also represent unpaid property taxes for local governments.

New Jersey recorded the fourth-highest amount of zombie foreclosures. Florida topped the list.

One in every 739 New Jersey properties had a foreclosure filing in February, an increase of more than 100 percent compared to February 2013.

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