New Jersey Housing Suffers as Defaults Exceed Nevada: Mortgages

Wendell and Margret Brady haven’t paid their mortgage in more than three years, withholding the money amid a foreclosure dispute on the couple’s 11-bedroom house in Morristown, New Jersey.

The Victorian home, built in 1887 and owned by the retired couple for 38 years, is part of the growing backlog of properties facing repossession in the state, which now has the second-highest serious delinquency rate in the U.S. While shrinking nationwide, the pipeline of distressed real estate, or shadow inventory, is also growing in New York, Connecticut, Maine and Pennsylvania because of state laws that slow the foreclosure process. The Bradys heard nothing from their lender from May 2011, until a letter arrived in the mail last week.

“This was like going back to day one,” said Margret Brady, 77, after she and her husband received on Sept. 15 the certified letter saying they must pay $223,730 by the end of the month or face losing the house. “It was like we hadn’t gone through any of the stuff of the last three years.”

New Jersey’s judicial review of all foreclosures, which delays seizures to help borrowers, threatens to hold down prices for years as properties remain subject to repossession and then may be sold at a discount. That’s buffeting a housing market already hurt by unemployment that’s risen to a 35-year high.

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