With New Jersey facing high foreclosure rates, even amidst overall low volumes across the country, state lawmakers and homeowners continue to work to address challenges raised by the issue, NJTV News reports.
“It is a multi-layer problem that has a lot of actors that need to be involved in this process to fix it,” said Sen. Troy Singleton, Chair of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
Singleton is the sponsor of a package of bills currently moving through the state legislature that are designed to address the alleged foreclosure issues, including bills which would create a statewide database of foreclosed properties. New Jersey lawmakers passed the bipartisan legislation in February consisting of a package of nine different bills aimed at streamlining pending foreclosure cases in the state.
Sen. Steven Oroho, another of the bills' sponsors, said they were designed to "give families the opportunity to start fresh while helping towns reduce the number of vacant houses that create public safety issues in our neighborhoods.
Singleton told NJTV, “We wanted to make sure there was also a notification so folks know who is the responsible person for foreclosed properties. [If] a local mayor, for instance, needs to know, ‘I need to go back to such and such from mortgage company Y or bank X,’ they’ll have the name and contact information for those individuals.”
Michael Affuso, EVP of New Jersey’s Bankers Association, called for better accountability for out-of-state mortgage companies.
“Think about in urban areas where you have attached houses,” Affuso said. “We want to know who is responsible for the maintenance of those homes. We’ve had laws on the books for years that forces lenders to maintain the homes. However, the state or the city cannot figure out who the lender is. Without this database they never will.
In a white paper published by the National Mortgage Servicing Association (NMSA), the NMSA discussed some “common sense, practical, and affordable remedies,” aimed at reducing the costs of foreclosure practices and community blight. According to the white paper, entitled “Understanding the True Costs of Abandoned Properties: How Maintenance Can Make a Difference,” the typical foreclosed home can impose costs of around $170,000, $85,000 of which is attributable to vacant property requirements and condition.
“It’s time to rethink how we deal with vacant and abandoned properties,” the white paper states. You can read the full white paper here.