Tag Archives: foreclosures

Queens foreclosure cases decreasing as state faces problems

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Taber Andrew Bain

Though New York State continues to see high levels of foreclosure activity, New York City – including Queens — is experiencing a decrease in foreclosure cases, according to the state comptroller’s office.

In a report released Monday, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli highlighted that New York State continues to face high levels of foreclosure activity as new foreclosure filings remain considerably higher than prerecession levels.

Between 2006 and 2009, the number of new foreclosure cases filed increased from 26,706 to 47,664, a growth of 78 percent. In 2011 and 2012, the number declined with new court rules issued requiring lenders to confirm their claim to the property. Then since reaching 16,655 in 2011, new filings went up to 46,696 by 2013 before falling to 43,868 last year.

“The foreclosure crisis is far from resolved, and there are still too many people losing their homes,” said DiNapoli, who also reported on the foreclosure issue in 2012. “In many places the situation has continued to get worse. Foreclose properties displace families and weigh heavily on local communities, reducing property values and eroding tax bases. We must continue efforts to help homeowners and stem the spread of foreclosure-induced blight.”

The report also shows the number of pending foreclosure cases increased by 27 percent from the beginning of 2013 to May 2014 — from 72,183 to over 91,600. Since then, the pending number of cases has remained steady at over 90,000.

According to the comptroller’s report, areas immediately outside of New York City – such as Long Island and the mid-Hudson region – have seen the greatest number of pending foreclosures with cases rising 63 percent from 25,097 at the beginning of 2013 to 40,985 this year.

However, although pending foreclosure cases across upstate grew by 47 percent, New York City experienced nearly a drop of 10 percent over the two-year period.

For Queens, the situation looks to be “improving,” according to the report, with a high foreclosure rate of around 1.25 percent but decreasing caseload. At the beginning of 2013 Queens had 12,497 pending foreclosure cases and in the beginning of this year it saw 10,667, a decrease of 14.1 percent.

The state courts’ efforts to work through a large backlog of foreclosure cases become difficult through the state’s complicated judicial foreclosure process. However, a number of state agencies, such as the Unified Court System, the Department of Financial Services and the office of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, are making efforts to resolve any cases which may have become stalled, monitor properties with delinquent mortgages and return vacant abandoned properties to productive use.

Schneiderman awarded close to $33 million to land banks across the state which will be used to demolish vacant and abandoned homes, renovate and resell homes, and support other development activities.


Home repossessions drop to lowest since 2007; Queens shows less improvement

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Foreclosure stats show a recovering housing market, but national improvements are stronger than Queens figures.

According to the February 2013 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report from RealtyTrac, a leading online marketplace for real estate data, U.S. bank repossessions have dropped 25 percent from last year, the lowest level since September 2007.

Numbers in Queens, however, were up compared to February 2012.

Since the recession began, bank repossessions in the borough reached their highest peak in October 2008 at 320.
Those numbers significantly dropped over the last few years, but went up from 14 in February 2012 to 24 a year later.

Foreclosure filings increased even more during that same period from 44 to 345. The jump can be mainly attributed to the sharp increase in default notices.

After monthly numbers in the hundreds and thousands since the beginning of 2007, there were only seven default notices in February 2012. Since May of that year, numbers went back into the hundreds, with 297 in Queens County last month.



Hear That? It’s the Queens housing boom

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

With economies around the world foundering, the Queens housing market appears to be floating just fine.

According to data from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), Queens had the most home sales of any borough in the first quarter of this year with 2,919 – representing a 13 percent increase from last year. The average sales price of a home in Queens also declined by two percent to $391,000.

The neighborhoods with the most home sales in the borough were Flushing, with 301, Rego Park, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, which had 265 sales, and Springfield Gardens and Jamaica which experienced 237 sales.

The housing boom in Queens is part of positive results citywide, as average home sales prices and sales volume remained steady across the five boroughs in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time last year, while the number of total sales increased by 16 percent from last quarter.

Competitive prices and low mortgage rates attracted buyers and stimulated the growth, according to REBNY, the city’s leading real estate trade association.

“The trend has been somewhat upward, meaning even in the fourth quarter we didn’t see a dip when compared to the first quarter of last year,” said Mike Slattery, the senior vice president of REBNY. “The fact that it has been a steady rise and not a seasonal adjustment is noteworthy. Queens has been a strong, solid upper middle class borough for a very long time, and the broad based strength of its neighborhoods continues to make it an appealing location for home buyers.”

Slattery expects the housing market to continue to grow and said a survey of brokers conducted by REBNY shows “continued uptick in contracts signed.”
John O’Kane, manager of O’Kane Realty, located at 72-01 Grand Avenue in Maspeth, believes a variety of factors have made buying a house in Queens attractive.
“Interest rates are historically low, so anyone who can afford to buy is buying,” said O’Kane. “You get a lot of New York flavor in Queens also. It’s the melting pot of the world.”

The condo market particularly buoyed sales in Queens, as the borough experienced a 36 percent increase in transactions – led by Long Island City, which saw a 53 percent increase from the previous quarter.

Eric Benaim, CEO of Modern Spaces, which handles sales for a number of high-profile condo buildings in L.I.C., says inventory is getting low while demand is growing.
Modern Spaces represents The View, which is 85 percent full and demanding $950 to $1,000 per square foot, and The Industry, which has sold roughly 51 percent of its spaces and costs as high as $850 per square foot. The Vista and the Bindery are new high rises that will likely introduce 250 to 300 condos into the market between 2012 and 2013, according to Benaim.

“Everyone loves L.I.C. when they come here,” Benaim said. “We are getting a lot of ‘Manhattanites’ because of overpricing in Manhattan. The market in L.I.C. is extremely busy.

I haven’t seen it this busy since 2006 or 2007. Years ago we had to pitch L.I.C. as an up and coming neighborhood. But it is not up and coming anymore, it is here.”

Assembly held to bring Occupy Wall Street to Queens

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Whitey Flagg is aiming to “occupy” the attention of New York’s largest borough.

The 40-year-old Jackson Heights resident, who participated in Occupy Wall Street during the movement’s first month and was arrested while marching on the Brooklyn Bridge, is hoping to bring principles promoted at Zuccotti Park to Queens.

“After spending so much time there, I realized that the future of the movement was going to be when the general assembly started moving into people’s communities,” said Flagg, the founding member of Occupy Queens. “I decided my time was better spent helping start something here in Queens.”

To initiate the Occupy Queens movement, a general assembly was held on November 11 at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, located at 37-06 77th Street. More than 150 people attended the assembly to voice their concerns and opinions regarding the major issues facing the borough.

“I came here because I think that we need to get together and organize for jobs,” said Molly Charboneau, a resident of Sunnyside. “The unemployment rate is too high and we’ve lost too many jobs. In Queens in particular, we have had so many closings and layoffs. We need to band together and fight this. I hope this will put regular people in touch with one another because we are the ones that really have the power. It’s the everyday people who have to organize together and fight back.”

Among the topics discussed at the meeting were housing foreclosures in Queens, prejudice against immigrants, the lack of open spaces in Jackson Heights and public transportation issues in the borough.

During the assembly, a teacher addressed the failures of the public school system.

“I’m tired of seeing our kids falling through the cracks,” he said. “I have kids who can barely read the words ‘the’ and ‘that.’”

In order to facilitate widespread change, the movement organizes working groups, which each tackle specific issues. Any person can start a working group to address a subject they deem important.

The next general assembly will be held on November 18 at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights. Flagg is hoping the movement will spread across Queens and adopt the personalities of each of the borough’s unique communities.

“This is really about the frame of mind that people should be involved in their democracy again,” he said. “Every general assembly will be different, and people are supposed to alter it for their community. It is not about any particular topics. It is about what each community is interested in and what each community wants to change about their environment. I hope people get involved, start to realize that their voices do matter, and if they come together, they can make a change. We want to facilitate change.