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Atlantic City Leaps from 25th to First Among Metro Areas for Highest Foreclosure Rate

Atlantic City foreclosure rateKeeping in line with the steadily increasing number of foreclosures in New Jersey, Atlantic City turned in the highest foreclosure rate in the nation among metropolitan areas with a population greater than 200,000 for November, according to RealtyTrac's U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for November 2014 released Thursday.

Fueled by a 230-percent year-over-year increase in foreclosure activity in November, the city known as "America's playground" surged from the 25th position in October to the first position for highest foreclosure rate in November among metro areas, according to Realty Trac. Atlantic City posted one foreclosure filing (default notice, foreclosure start, or lender repossession) for every 289 residential housing units for November, an increase from one in every 601 in October. The national average foreclosure rate for November was one for every 1,170 housing units.

Lender repossessions, or REO activity, skyrocketed by 264 percent year-over-year in Atlantic City in November, marking the 11th consecutive month with a year-over-year increase in REO activity, according to RealtyTrac.

New Jersey has seen a year-over-year increase in foreclosure activity for 11 of the last 12 months, including a spike of 196 percent in November, according to RealtyTrac. The huge increase pushed the Garden State from ninth in October to second in November in foreclosure rate among states. In all, one in every 478 residential housing units had a foreclosure filing in New Jersey in November, RealtyTrac reported.

"New Jersey is getting hit hard by foreclosures because many of the foreclosures were delayed by moratoriums and the mediation law," RealtyTrac VP Daren Blomquist said. "Government intervention in the foreclosure process has slowed things down, and many of these delayed foreclosures are coming back with a vengeance. In Atlantic City on top of that is a faltering economic situation where many of the casinos have gone out of business and laid off workers in the last few months."

Blomquist said historically, job loss is the number one driver of foreclosures, though in the years since the housing bubble burst, foreclosures have been driven primarily by bad loans. In Atlantic City, bad loans, previous foreclosure delays, and job loss all came into play in November, resulting in the spike in foreclosures. Blomquist said foreclosure attorneys have reported a backlog of tens of thousands of properties in the foreclosure process in New Jersey, which means November's increase could be just the beginning.

"I think it's going to get worse before it gets better in New Jersey because of all the delayed foreclosures," Blomquist said.

Meanwhile, in Miami, foreclosure activity tumbled by 22 percent year-over-year in November, dropping the "Magic City" from first down to second for highest foreclosure rate among metro areas, according to RealtyTrac. There was one foreclosure filing for every 394 residential housing units in Miami in November, RealtyTrac reported.

"South Florida is in the fourth quarter with our distressed real estate," said Mike Pappas, CEO and president of the Keyes Company, covering the South Florida market. "It is encouraging to see a 22 percent overall decline in our region."

Eight of the top 10 metro areas with the nation's highest foreclosure rate in November were located in Florida and the other two were in New Jersey, according to RealtyTrac. Following Atlantic City and Miami on the list were Jacksonville, Florida (third with one foreclosure filing for every 395 residential housing units); Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida (fourth, 1:399); Orlando, Florida (fifth, 1:408); Pensacola, Florida (sixth, 1:428); Tampa, Florida (seventh, 1:432); Trenton, New Jersey (eighth, 1:456); Lakeland, Florida (ninth, 1:461); and Ocala, Florida (10th, 1:489).

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.

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