By Naeisha Rose
Christina Day, a former Rosedale resident, has only spent three years in the real estate game, but she is tired of seeing hardworking homeowners facing foreclosures being scammed, which led to the launching of her own website, NYC Home Hope, to help those in need.
The licensed realtor who currently lives in Valley Stream, works with The Millenium Real Estate Team at HomeSmart CrossIsland, located at 242-14 Merrick Blvd. in Rosedale, and said she is an expert on real estate in Queens, Long Island, Brooklyn, Westchester and the Bronx.
“As a realtor, I dedicate a portion of my business to foreclosure prevention and I am using my website, NYC Home Hope, to reach as many homeowners as possible who are facing foreclosure, because there are so many incredibly horrible things happening to people who are not educated or not aware of their options,” Day said.
On Sept. 14, Day met with a St. Albans family facing foreclosure that she says was bilked of $5,000 from an illegitimate company that offered to help them with a loan modification.
“They instructed them to make three payments to get into a new loan modification program,” said Day. “It wasn’t associated at all with their mortgage company and now they can’t get their money back.”
Day said the goal of her website is to help people before they fall into foreclosure or get approached by a scammer looking to take advantage of them while they are in distress.
“What I hope to do is to get in touch with these people before this happens so I can give them all of the options,” said Day. “A lot of times its embarrassing for people [to face foreclosure], so that is why I created the website.”
The family in St. Albans faced foreclosure after the head of the household lost a job and his son passed away, according to Day.
“When an individual or a family falls behind on a mortgage payment, what happens is that [home] goes into a pre-foreclosure status and there is actually a lawsuit put against that homeowner,” said Day. “They have typically a few months before that happens, but a lot of people don’t reach out to anyone so it keeps on progressing from pre-foreclosure… to becoming a full foreclosure where the bank is reclaiming the property.”
In New York, homeowners have several months to seek options before losing their home, according to Day. Homeowners enter pre-foreclosure after three months worth of missed payments, but it takes anywhere from 15 months to two years to end up losing one’s home to a bank, added the realtor.
“Think about all that time there could have been proactive strategies that the homeowner could’ve met to keep their home or prevent the foreclosure,” said Day.
Unfortunately for homeowners, the liens or lawsuits put against them when they fall behind on payments are public, and this information is what scam artists use to prey on those struggling to stay afloat.
“One thing they do is offer to do a loan modification, which is something I do too, but I do not take fees for doing that, and it is illegal to take upfront fees from people,” said Day. “Another way is that people scam [homeowners] into signing over the deed to their homes over to them.”
Another thing to look out for with scammers is when a company approaches you with a loan modification deal and asks for three payments of more than $1,000 to rectify the foreclosure situation, according to Day.
Going into foreclosure can negatively impact your credit score for seven years, leading to banks not giving out loans toward helping a former homeowner get another home. But a better option, according to Day, is to do a short sale.
“It’s a type of transaction where the bank approves the sale of your property for whatever is left on your mortgage,” said Day. “Instead of waiting two years of waiting for the bank to cease the property you can clear the mortgage and walk away.”
Unlike a foreclosure, a short sale only impacts one’s credit score for two years and could leave some homeowners with upwards of $10,000 in their pockets, which could be enough to relocate and start their lives over, according to Day.
Day hopes her website will become a go-to source for homeowners who are searching for an option other than foreclosure.
“I told you one heartbreaking story, but this is one of many,” said Day. “If there is one thing I can do, I can be a legitimate source of help.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose