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LI foreclosure rate drops to lowest level since 2010

This house in Central Islip, shown on Friday,

This house in Central Islip, shown on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, was bought at a foreclosure auction. Photo Credit: Veronique Louis

Long Island’s foreclosure rate has hit its lowest level since 2010, a new report shows, though it remains higher than the national and state rates.

For all Island homes with outstanding mortgages, 4.67 percent were in foreclosure in February, down 0.64 percentage points from a year earlier, California-based real estate analytics company CoreLogic reported Tuesday. That’s the lowest level since July 2010, when 4.54 percent of homes with mortgages were in foreclosure, CoreLogic figures show.

The share of Island homes in foreclosure has been falling slowly and fairly steadily since August 2012, when it reached its recent high of 7.09 percent, CoreLogic figures show.

The decline is due in part to homeowners catching up on delinquent loans, said Marianne Garvin, chief executive of the Centereach-based Community Development Corp. of Long Island, a nonprofit housing group. But it’s also due to lenders completing more foreclosures, either by taking back homes or striking a deal with homeowners, she said.

With the local economy improving and the jobless rate falling to 4.2 percent in March, “there’s more opportunity for people to save their houses,” Garvin said. Even so, she said, “we still have a very large number, so I don’t feel like we’re at the end of the crisis on Long Island.”

Island homeowners continue to suffer a higher rate of foreclosure than their counterparts throughout the country and the state. Nationwide, 1.13 percent of homes were in foreclosure in February, a year-over-year decline of 0.33 percentage points, CoreLogic reported Tuesday. In New York, the foreclosure rate was 3.39 percent, 0.64 percentage points lower than the previous February.

A separate report suggests that New York’s falling foreclosure rate could be explained in part by lenders taking back homes when they win foreclosure lawsuits.

Throughout New York, lenders repossessed 4,710 homes in the first three months of 2016, a year-over-year increase of 157 percent, according to California-based national data provider RealtyTrac.

It took 1,061 days to foreclose on a home in New York in the first three months of 2016, the third-longest delay in the country, RealtyTrac reported.

In the last year or two, lenders have become more willing to negotiate “cash for keys” deals, in which they pay homeowners amounts ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 to walk away from properties lingering in foreclosure, said Marc Daniels, an associate in the Melville office of foreclosure and bankruptcy attorney Craig Robins.

“They’re doing their best to tie up their loose ends,” Daniels said.

Foreclosures are still “taking a toll on local governments and communities” across New York, especially in economically distressed areas with high numbers of abandoned homes where lenders have declined to pursue foreclosures, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli wrote in a recent report.

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