New Jersey Looks to Charge Lenders $2K Per Foreclosure
Well, that's one way to offset declining property tax revenue; according to a published report on Monday evening, the New Jersey state legislature is considering levying a $2,000 fee for every foreclosure lenders and servicers file in the state. The fee comes as consumer advocates continue to push for ways they say will help prevent foreclosures at any cost -- although, increasingly, that cost is one that consumer groups are expecting lenders and servicers to bear. Under the proposal, which passed a vote by the state's budget committee on Monday 8-3 and will now head to the full state Assembly later this week, lenders would be forced to pay $2,000 per foreclosure into a trust fund that would fund borrower counseling and fund community groups' foreclosure prevention efforts. The provision is part of the so-called New Jersey Home Ownership Preservation Act now being considered within the state; beyond the proposed fee, the bill would provide for a six month stay after a default notice is filed before a lender could formally process a foreclosure. The proposal is the first "foreclosure tax" we've seen legislators actually consider since the mortgage mess began, and it's an idea that is -- not surprisingly -- strongly opposed by the banking industry, which argues that such a levy would simply increase the costs of all mortgages in the state. "It's a dangerous time to regulate because you end up with unintended consequences," executive director of the Mortgage Bankers Association in New Jersey and Pennsylvania told Reuters. Of course, consumer groups are crowing about the possibility of taxing lenders to fund their own foreclosure prevention efforts. Staci Berger, representing the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, said the bill "puts responsibility for the bad lending on the lenders" in testifying before the NJ budget committee, according to the same Reuters report. Because, apparently, every foreclosure is the result of a bad lending decision by the bank.