Fewer Long Island homeowners got foreclosure-related notices in November than in the previous month or a year earlier, temporary declines that experts said promise little relief to the housing market.
There were 257 foreclosure-related filings in Nassau County in November, down 12.6 percent from October and 3.4 percent from a year earlier, RealtyTrac, a foreclosure data provider, said in a study released Thursday. Those filings include new cases, auction notices and repossessions.
In Suffolk there were 141 filings, the California-based foreclosure data provider said, down 30.5 percent from October and 82.5 percent from a year earlier.
The year-to-year decline results mostly from the lagging effects of documentation problems among lenders and servicers that have delayed filings. "Mortgage servicers have had to re-evaluate their foreclosure procedures," said Manhattan-based appraiser Jonathan Miller, who tracks local sales. He sees increases in foreclosures on the horizon, and so does Steve Milner, chief executive of U.S. Mortgage Corp., a lender based in Melville. "I think maybe by the end of the first quarter of 2012 we'll see an increase, because a lot of foreclosures that should have been processed weren't."
That, in turn, suggests a prolonged road to recovery for the housing market. Foreclosed homes have helped to depress prices. The Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Tuesday that the median home sale price on Long Island and in Queens was down 5.5 percent last month from a year earlier.
Carol Yopp, foreclosure prevention program manager at the Hauppauge-based Long Island Housing Partnership, says other factors in the declines are the suspension of, or slowdown in, evictions announced by some lenders and servicers for the holiday season. She said foreclosures by two lenders, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, might have been slowed by the recent openings of local centers to help Long Island customers avoid default. And, she noted, a new independent foreclosure review process has been set up by certain lenders under an agreement by the Federal Reserve System and the Office of Thrift Supervision for homeowners victimized by misrepresentations or other deficiencies such as "robo signing" in the foreclosure process.
"The filings are slowing down, but the people in need certainly are not slowing down," she said. "Our intake has been steady."
The decline in foreclosure filings was somewhat less dramatic nationally in November. There were 224,394 filings countrywide, down 2.7 percent from October and 14.5 percent from a year earlier, RealtyTrac said.