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LI home foreclosures rise in 2nd quarter

Edith Galvis, left, and Jesus Flores talk with

Edith Galvis, left, and Jesus Flores talk with a Bank of America mortgage specialist last year. (Sept. 23, 2011) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Long Island home foreclosures rose in the second quarter despite a drop in new filings in June, according to a report to be released Thursday.

From April through June, foreclosure filings rose 5.5 percent in Nassau County, RealtyTrac reported. The county's increase was driven by a 10 percent increase in bank notices to homeowners that the legal foreclosure process is beginning. RealtyTrac counts several types of filings in its data, including foreclosure notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions.

Suffolk County foreclosure filings also increased in the second quarter, with banks filing 3.2 percent more actions than they did during the same period in 2011. Suffolk's increase was due to banks holding more foreclosure sales -- 134, compared to 75 a year earlier -- and repossessing more homes. Banks took title to 66 homes in the second quarter, compared with 52 a year earlier.

Banks appear to be reviving cases that have languished for months or years, said Barry Smolowitz, founder of the Suffolk County Pro Bono Foreclosure Settlement Project.

"Clearly there is much more activity in cases becoming live," he said. That could be because new attorneys are taking over cases from a major foreclosure law firm that ceased most operations last year, he said.

Those revived cases could distort the foreclosure numbers, since some get counted as new filings, Smolowitz said.

Last month, foreclosure filings fell 14 percent in Nassau and 26 percent in Suffolk, compared to June 2011, according to RealtyTrac. The falloff follows a spike in May, when banks filed 50 percent more foreclosure actions in Suffolk and nearly 34 percent more in Nassau than they had a year earlier.

"Maybe it's a sign that banks and homeowners are able to get together and avoid foreclosure by simply restructuring mortgages," Irwin Kellner, chief economist with Market, said of June's decrease in foreclosure actions.

Real estate experts predict home prices will remain depressed for 18 months or so, until the market absorbs a backlog of foreclosed homes.

Banks still seem to be holding onto repossessed homes, according to real estate agents.

"If anything, I think I've seen less hit the market," said Bethany Marten, a buyers' agent and real estate investor in Baldwin.

The few being offered are overpriced, said Lauren Hurley, an agent with H&G Realty-NY in Miller Place: "Everybody's been wondering, where are these foreclosures?"

Foreclosure filings


Second quarter 2011 1,180

Second quarter 2012 1,245


Second quarter 2011 819

Second quarter 2012 845


June 2011 469

June 2012 403


June 2011 334

June 2012 246

Source: RealtyTrac

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