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Report: Short sales down on LI

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Long Island had 33 short sales in April, down 44 percent from a year ago despite recent federal and bank efforts to fast-track them.

The numbers from CoreLogic, a mortgage and foreclosure data provider, document the gulf between foreclosure prevention programs and results. More than a year ago, the Obama administration launched the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives plan, which gives incentives to lenders who accept deeds in lieu of foreclosure and short sales, in which they take less than owed on the mortgage if the seller finds a buyer.

Lenders and sellers' attorneys this year became more adept at processing such sales.

Melville-based attorney Peter Goodman, who has more than 40 pending short sales, said he's surprised by the year-over-year drop. "I think those numbers are somewhat of an anomaly," he said.

But Goodman also said it's just as hard now to close a deal as it was a year ago.

One major challenge: Many sellers are trying get loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which offers low down payment programs, and the FHA has been requiring repairs on many of the properties, from fixing peeling paint to getting rid of an insect infestation. "The sellers don't have the money to make repairs," the attorney said, "and the buyers aren't willing to pay the money to make repairs on a house that they don't yet own."

Another factor: A lack of property permits, let's say for an old addition to the house, has held up some closings. Lenders are no longer flexible about approving loans and waiting for the buyers to take care of the permits after the sale, Goodman said. Also, he said, towns need revenue and are pressing sellers and buyers to abide by the rules and get permits.

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