While some say the recession is over, the local housing slump has vacillated in the last year between improving and receding. In terms of foreclosures on houses whose residents couldn’t make payments, Hudson County suffered its worst month of the year in January, followed by an improvement over subsequent months. Then, July became the county’s second worst month.
In the individual towns, the situation is improving in some, while it’s varying in others.
The numbers and trends
In Union City, an average 26.5 homes a month have been listed for foreclosure in the past six months, according to RealtyTrac, a company that tracks foreclosures for online subscribers.
Comparing the months from January to July in Union City (the August numbers are not yet available), RealtyTrac’s data shows that in July, 33 homes in Union City were given a default notice, an auction notice, or officially repossessed by banks.
January was Union City’s second worst month, with 28 homes involved in the process. May was its best month, with only 13 foreclosure filings.
For West New York, January was the worst month, with 27 homeowners filing for foreclosure. May was its second worst month, with 25 homes in the process. February was the best, with 11 foreclosure filings. In July, 18 homes were given notices.
“It is still disproportionately affecting areas that have mid to lower priced homes, and some of that comes out of the fact that we believe that those are areas where people used the subprime loans that are very troublesome,” said Daren Blomquist, a communications manager at RealtyTrac.
Subprime loans were easy-to-get mortgages often given to people without a lot of money. In the end, these homeowners were unable to pay when the economy and their personal fortunes declined.
The numbers show that Weehawken and Hoboken had the least number of homes receiving foreclosure notices this year.
Defying the county trend, Weehawken’s best month was in January, with only two homes in foreclosure. One received a default notice and the other received an auction notice.
In Hoboken, January was the worst month, with eight homes in foreclosure. February was the best month with just one home entering the foreclosure process.
Some residents are having problems with unemployment. West New York’s unemployment rate was 9.6 per cent in January and rose to 12.1 per cent in June, and Union City’s was 11.4 in the first month of the year, and 14.3 per cent in June.
The average length of time it takes for a home to go through the foreclosure process, from the time the homeowner receives a default notice to the time their property is taken away by the bank, is typically just over six months.
July was Hudson County’s second worst foreclosure month so far.
“Six months would be under normal circumstances,” said Blomquist. “Probably you’re seeing it longer than that in most cases right now.”
A real estate agent’s experience
“I think it’s going to take a good five years before you see any kind of real normality,” said Bob DeRuggiero, who’s been in the real estate business for 48 years and is owner of Robert DeRuggiero Realty in Union City and Hoboken.
DeRuggiero has weathered many of the ups and down in real estate cycles, including one in 1986 from which it took him 10 years to recover, he said.
For this cycle, DeRuggiero said that he’s had to reduce the number of real estate agents working for him, cut back hours, and even ask his staff to take furloughs. Still, he’s encouraged by the fact that loans are still available to those with good credit, commercial properties haven’t been hit as hard as residences, and homes are still selling if the price is right.
“It’s not as stagnant as it was for the last nine months or so. It’s all price point oriented,” said DeRuggiero.
“We listed a property in North Bergen, a two family house, at the lowest priced two-family in the area. We had 85 showings and five contracts,” added DeRuggiero. “FHA [a federal housing administration agency that provides insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders] is alive and well and there is still the $8,000 [federal] tax credit to take advantage of.”
Melissa Rappaport may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org