Foreclosures down, Queens still hit hard

THE COURIER/Photos by Alexa Altman

While foreclosures across New York City continue along the downward trend that started in 2010, Queens was the borough with the highest share of first-time foreclosures in the first quarter of 2012.

According to a spokesperson from Property Shark, the 82 newly-scheduled foreclosure auctions in Queens account for 39 percent of New York City’s total foreclosure activity.

Foreclosures across New York City have gone down 18 percent from the first quarter in 2011 to the same time this year.

According to Laura Gatea of Property Shark, when an owner fails to make three consecutive mortgage payments, he or she receives a pre-foreclosure document, called a lis pendens. This informs the owner that the home is in danger of being foreclosed. In New York City, it takes at least one year for a property to go from the lis pendens stage to the foreclosure auction stage, during which time the owner can either make payments or sell the home.
If the owner does nothing, the home is sold at auction or repossessed by the bank.

The Sixth Congressional District, spanning southeastern Queens, remains the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis.

Silvan Scarlett, a Jamaica resident, lives in a home that is listed for foreclosure. Scarlett, who rents the place with his wife and 17-year-old daughter, said he knew the owner had stopped making payments when a bank representative showed up at their home and told him the payments were delinquent.

Soon after, a real estate company representative visited their home to explain the process of foreclosure, telling Scarlett that he and his family either needed to vacate the premises immediately or purchase or rent the home from the bank.
Scarlett has begun searching for a new place to live.

A representative from Congressmember Gregory Meeks’ office stated that in 2008, while the housing crisis was in full force, they found that their constituents would let their homes go all the way to auction without speaking to the bank, claiming it was a matter of fear, pride and a feeling of failure.
According to Meeks’ office, southeast Queens was hit particularly hard because of the area’s nice homes and working-class families.
Hurt by predatory lending, the buyers, many of whom were first-time homeowners, were put into subprime product. As payments on the homes began to escalate, owners could not afford to make them.

Meeks opened his office to those facing foreclosure, expanding his hours and allowing mortgage foreclosure counselors to come in to assist constituents while negotiating with banks. The office was able to successfully assist many area families in crisis, realizing that they needed to spread their services even further.

Meeks, a senior member of the Financial Services Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee, is urging homeowners in distress to consult the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of American (NACA) and attend the Save The Dream event.

At the Save the Dream event, to be held at the Javits convention center in Manhattan on April 26, bank representatives from various locations will spend five days considering whether or not to modify applicants loans.

In Queens alone, 36,590 homes are listed as pre-foreclosures, according to the representative. Throughout New York City, 94,890 properties are at risk.


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