Atlantic City has the highest foreclosure rate of any metropolitan area in the nation for the fourth month in a row.
One in every 257 homes in Atlantic City had a foreclosure filing last month, more than four times the national average, according to the real estate information company RealtyTrac.
The spate of casino closings that put thousands of people out of work last year is one reason Atlantic City’s foreclosure rate is so high now, said Edward Ausberger, a broker with Weichert Realtors.
“They may run through their savings or borrow to keep the home from falling delinquent,” he said. “Once they run out of those reserves, you get to the point that I guess you’ve got to make a decision — making the mortgage payment or putting food on the table if you’re not working.”
Ausberger said he expects Atlantic City’s foreclosure rate will remain high.
“There are properties we’ve seen four or five years since the last mortgage payment. Homeowners are still in there and all the way to the end are just hanging in there until the sheriff comes knocking on the door,” he said. “There’s a lot that’s in the pipeline.”
Investors are buying some vacant foreclosed homes, fixing them up, and putting them on the market as rental units.
“Most of the time these properties have been sitting so they’ve been vandalized, it could be copper missing, all the appliances,” Ausberger said. “We do see more investors coming in, buying these types of properties, cleaning them up, and just renting them back out.”
RealtyTrac spokeswoman Ginny Walker said the number of properties in New Jersey repossessed by lenders is up 275 percent from a year ago. That, she said, is a good sign.
“When we see the end of the foreclosure process happening, then these homes can get resold, and the banks can recoup their losses,” she said. “And the homeowner who’s been struggling for the last three years in the foreclosure process can actually get out from underneath this house that’s usually at this time become a burden to them.”