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Long Island foreclosure rate dips, still higher than nation

The share of Long Island homes in foreclosure

The share of Long Island homes in foreclosure dropped to 4.87 percent in December, an annual decline of 0.54 percentage points, CoreLogic reported Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Long Island homeowners are gradually emerging from the foreclosure crisis, though they still suffer more distress than the state and nation as a whole, a new report shows.

The share of local homes in foreclosure dropped to 4.87 percent in December, an annual decline of 0.54 percentage points, CoreLogic reported Tuesday.

Across New York State, 3.56 percent of homes are in some stage of foreclosure, compared with 4.1 percent a year earlier, CoreLogic reported.

Nationwide, the foreclosure rate fell 0.3 percentage points year-over-year, to 1.2 percent.

The reasons for the Island’s ongoing housing troubles include the severity of its housing crash, the weakness of the local economic recovery, high property taxes and the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy.

Despite the improvement, Long Island homeowners are “still in the trenches,” with many families at risk of losing their homes, said Carol Yopp, director of counseling at the Long Island Housing Partnership in Hauppauge.

“We’re not really seeing a downturn in the need for assistance,” she said.

The primary reasons homeowners fall behind have changed since the 2007-2009 recession, Yopp said. From 2008 through 2014, many homeowners were saddled with high interest rates or unaffordable mortgage balances. In 2014, with gas prices exceeding $4 a gallon, high fuel costs pushed some families over the edge.

Now, with lower fuel costs and near-record-low interest rates — including rates as low as 2 percent for homeowners who received certain loan modifications — homeowners are more likely to struggle due to a serious illness or loss of a second job, Yopp said.

For one family seeking help at Long Island Housing Partnership, “they can’t get any assistance and there were heart issues, a kidney transplant. . . . The bank can’t do anything, [the homeowners] just don’t have the income” to afford their medical costs and housing payments, Yopp said. “It can be devastating.”

It took lenders an average of 1,010 days to foreclose on homes in New York State during the last three months of 2015, the sixth-longest delay in the country, according to California-based data company RealtyTrac.

CoreLogic tracks data from public records and other sources on about 85 percent of mortgages in the United States.

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