By Craig McCarthy | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
New Jersey continues to lead the country in foreclosures despite a national trend showing many states recovering to pre-recession numbers.
Nationwide, properties starting the foreclosure process during the first half of 2016 were down 17 percent from the same time last year, the lowest figures recorded since 2006, according to data recently released by RealtyTrac.
One in 249 housing units currently have a foreclosure filings in the United States, or 533,813 properties. The homes in foreclosure account for .4 percent of all housing units across the country.
New Jersey has 34,876 foreclosure properties, just under 1 percent of the state’s housing units as of June, according to RealtyTrac.
The Atlantic City and Trenton metropolitan statistical areas, census designated areas with populations more than 200,000, have the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. Atlantic City’s region has a rate of 1.85 percent, and the Trenton-Ewing region has a rate of 1.31 percent.
Camden County led the state with 1,382 properties in foreclosure over the last six months, followed by Ocean and Essex counties with 1,339 and 1,279 foreclosure filings, respectively.
New Jersey also has the longest turnaround time in the nation for its underwater properties, averaging 1,249 days as a foreclosure property.
The state with the shortest foreclosure period, at 195 days, is Virginia, where a property is not required to go through a judicial foreclosure process. In New Jersey, a year of the foreclosure period is generally spent going through the state’s court system.
The court logjam of foreclosure filings has been significantly reduced, according to Winnie Comfort, a spokeswoman for the state courts. The backlog was created in 2010 after a state Supreme Court ruling requiring major banks in New Jersey to revamp lending guidelines.
Less than 400 properties are currently considered backlogged and taking more than the 366-day average to complete the foreclosure process, Comfort said. As of June, a total of 15,346 homes are in court’s foreclosure process.
The California-based housing firm RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosure homes once a notice of default has been issued until it’s sold at auction or as a bank-owned property, collects data on 2,200 counties nationwide.
New Jersey only tracks foreclosure properties in the court system. It does not count properties in default, the pre-foreclosure process, or once the property is turned over to a bank as a real estate owned property, which the state deems a post-foreclosure property.