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Bankruptcy an option as New Jersey foreclosures fail to slow

While the foreclosure picture nationally appears to be improving, New Jersey is not yet joining the party. Our state is lagging behind others, in part due to foreclosure proceedings grinding to a halt after New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner directed mortgage lenders in December 2010 to prove they were not engaging in a practice known as robo-signing, or executing documents without verifying them.

While 12.5 percent of homeowners across the nation were said to be in foreclosure or late on their mortgage for the fourth quarter of 2011, New Jersey remained at a whopping 16.7 percent. The problems are exacerbated because New Jersey requires foreclosure proceedings to be processed through the court system, leading to a further backlog of cases. As these proceedings begin to wind their way through the legal process, some homeowners may find that the protection of a personal bankruptcy filing may help them obtain the debt relief they seek and deserve.

Observers indicate that the national statistics showing improvement are tied to an expanding economy that has seen both job growth and fewer homeowners falling behind on their mortgages. Locally, lenders have not yet increased their efforts to process foreclosures as issues remain about procedures.

The recession affected all income levels and continues to present problems for many struggling to survive financially. As New Jersey begins to resolve the logjam created in its judicial system, more homeowners may face additional pressure to confront outstanding debt. In doing so, the first defense is to become fully informed as to all available alternatives. For those that elect to resolve their financial difficulties through a personal bankruptcy, the process offers a choice between a liquidation of debt or an opportunity to present a reorganization plan to repay debt and maintain existing assets.

Source: Northjersey.com, "Foreclosure picture get brighter nationally, but NJ lags," Kathleen Lynn, Feb. 16, 2012

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