When it comes to the economic impact of COVID-19 here in New Jersey, there’s almost no limit to how many have been affected. Just about every business and industry has been, from retail to wholesale, manufacturing to importing, services to healthcare, you name it. But it seemed like real estate was the only industry (or one of the very few) that was getting a lot of good news.

However, according to an article on roi-nj.com, a new report by California-based ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data curator, says that when it comes to foreclosures and homeownership, seven counties in New Jersey have had an even more difficult time due to the pandemic.

Here’s how they came to the conclusion that they did. They created a formula based on three factors:

  • The percentage of homes facing possible foreclosure.
  • The amount of homes that are “underwater”—having mortgage balances that exceed the value of the home.
  • And the percentage of paychecks needed to pay for minor home expenses.

The study culled the numbers they found and determined which counties were most “at risk” of having economic problems related to home ownership. Out of the entire 50 U.S. counties most at-risk, seven are from New Jersey. That’s a pretty high number. They are Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Sussex, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester.

Additionally, while 13% of mortgages in this country are underwater. Cumberland County, which ironically is not on the list of “at risk” counties, has an alarming 34% of homes underwater. Sounds like we could be in serious trouble soon.

The article goes on to say that although it is unlikely we will ever return to the foreclosure rate that we saw in the 2009-2010 mortgage collapse, it’s possible that we will soon be hearing more bad news from New Jersey homeowners. I think more foreclosures are definitely on the way. After all, all of the breaks that we’ve been given for coronavirus (forbearance, moratoria, forgiveness, stimulus money, etc) can’t last forever. Eventually, everyone is going to have to “pay the piper.”

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.