Long Island's foreclosure rate has fallen to the lowest level in nearly five years, but the region still suffers more housing distress than the rest of the country, a new report shows.
In Nassau and Suffolk counties, 4.94 percent of homes with mortgages were in foreclosure in July, according to a report Friday by national data company CoreLogic.
In comparison, 3.69 percent of homeowners with mortgages in New York and just 1.26 percent of those nationwide were in foreclosure.
Still, the Long Island rate is down 0.67 percentage points from a year earlier and the lowest share since September 2010.
Then, 4.91 percent of local homes with mortgages were in foreclosure.
"That's a minimal drop, but it's good to see a drop," said Peter Elkowitz, chief executive of the Long Island Housing Partnership in Hauppauge. One positive change, he said: "People are getting that second job back."
Long Island's jobless rate fell to 4.5 percent in August, the lowest rate for the month in eight years, the state Labor Department reported last month.
In another encouraging sign for Long Island's real estate economy, fewer local homeowners are getting late-payment notices from lenders. In July, 8.44 percent of homeowners were at least 90 days late on their mortgages, 0.89 percentage points less than a year earlier, CoreLogic said.
Long Island was hit hard by the collapse in home prices, which began here in 2007 and which contributed to the last recession. Just two years ago, new foreclosure cases were rising sharply here even as they fell nationwide.
And although the total number of homes in the foreclosure pool on Long Island has declined, banks continue to file a steady stream of new cases. Each month, lenders consistently file between 1,200 and 1,500 foreclosure lawsuits on Long Island, said Susan Vincennie, president of Nesconset-based data company LI Profiles. "I don't see those numbers dropping," she said.
What's more, the number of Long Island homeowners seeking help from housing counselors remains steady, said Carol Yopp, director of counseling at the Long Island Housing Partnership. The decline in the total number of homes in foreclosure is due, in part, to homeowners getting loan modifications that help them emerge from foreclosure, Yopp said: "The modifications have been coming through steadily."
In other cases, families lose their homes at foreclosure auctions. "They've waited it out for six or seven years, and they just can't be helped. They just don't have any income or minimal income, and modification is just not an option for them," Yopp said.