Yvette Rooney of Primerica Financial Service in Port Jervis goes over financial analysis forms. She helps potential home buyers determine how much of a mortgage they can afford.
Times Herald-Record/KEN BIZZIGOT
By Annemarie Kropf
For the Times Herald-Record
December 12, 2007
Normally at this time of year, homeowners place holiday decorations on their lawns. This year, many in the area are putting up foreclosure signs instead."From all the people that I know who've been in the real estate industry for years, they're trying to stay optimistic," said Yvette Rooney, a real estate agent at Real Estate United in Middletown.
"They say that the housing market is just like the stock market, in that it has its ups and downs," she said. "What's different in this environment, though, is how bad the mortgage industry has positioned people. It's making a cycle that won't stop."are you in trouble
There are early warning signs to watch for if you feel you're at risk for foreclosure:
Are you having trouble paying your current obligations, such as car payments, credit cards and utilities? Cut out the items you don't need, such as cable TV or dining out.
Is your house payment about to increase? Be very mindful of your credit score, which will determine whether you're able to refinance.
Is your house larger than your needs? Downsizing is one way to avoid foreclosure altogether.
And the news is expected to get worse.
While the local market had been largely insulated from the national housing crisis, experts say we're poised for our own crisis. Several factors are at play:
The influx by New York City home buyers over the past decade means a lot of variable-rate mortgages are now due for a rate increase.
The region's ever-increasing home prices means many have been priced out of the market, yet were given subprime mortgages anyway.
The softening of the national economy has had ripple effects here.
"They're creeping up," Rooney said of local foreclosures. "They'll be more visible in the new year, because a lot of adjustable rates are set to balloon up."
Overall, foreclosure activity is higher this year than it was last year, said Daren Blomquist, marketing communications manager at RealtyTrac Inc., which tracks local and national foreclosure rates.
"First, home prices shot up to an unsustainable level over the past few years," he said. "Those home prices were propped up for a time by generous loan products that allowed buyers to take out loans that they realistically were not qualified to pay off."
Many of those homeowners, he added, are now defaulting on their monthly payments — particularly if they have an adjustable rate loan that is resetting to a higher rate and raising their monthly payments.
"Lenders have responded to the defaults by tightening lending standards," he said. "While this is a good response for the long term, it puts homeowners facing foreclosure in more of a bind because it is now harder for them to refinance into a better loan."
Rooney also blames adjustable mortgage rates for the current crisis, saying that less than 10 years ago, the number of people with adjustable mortgages was 3 percent. Since 2005-2006, that number has increased to 33 percent.
"A lot of people from the city came to Orange County and it started getting pricey; it started getting like another Rockland or Westchester County," she said. "More and more people were doing OK and went out looking for the American dream."
That's a scene also played out in more than just Orange County.
"Some Realtors in Sullivan County did see an increase in buyers from the metro New York City area during the period following 9/11," said Salvatore I. Prividera Jr., director of communications and special projects for the New York State Association of Realtors.
A lack of home-ownership savvy accelerated the problem, Rooney said.
"What happened is that a lot of brokers gave what clients wanted — the lower rate — and this is because people are not educated on what 'rate' really is, because everyone, including the brokers, tell people that rate is the most important thing. It's not," she said.
"You can have a great low rate but a horrible mortgage," she said. "Since adjustable rates in most cases were lower than fixed rates, that's what people thought they should get, not knowing that it's a bomb waiting to explode."
Foreclosures don't just affect that one homeowner; they affect all homeowners in the area, since it drops housing prices in the region.
"In a sense, this does affect people who are done with paying mortgages because when someone does an appraisal of a house, they're looking at recent sales," Rooney explained. "Unless they're making guesstimates of what a house might have gone for had there not been a foreclosure, that will affect people in good credit as well."
Blomquist echoed that sentiment.
"Demand for housing and housing prices have been decreasing in many areas, in part because of the rising foreclosures and tighter lending standards," he says, "and that means homeowners facing foreclosure often can't sell to avoid foreclosure."
Perhaps sighting a growing market, Rooney is slowly leaving real estate and instead focusing on educating people through her role as an independent contractor with Primerica Financial Services in Port Jervis.
"Some drastic movement needs to be made," she said. "It's going to take some time to pick up the pieces."
Wayne Otis of Gardiner spends some time with his two pet pony mules, 12-year-old Blackjack, left, and 20-year-old Smokey. Otis and his wife, Laurie, have to give up the animals because their farm is in foreclosure.
For the Times Herald-Record/MIKE RICE
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Wayne Otis of Gardiner spends some time with his two pet pony mules, 12-year-old Blackjack, left, and 20-year-old Smokey. Otis and his wife, Laurie, have to give up the animals because their farm is in foreclosure.For the Times Herald-Record/MIKE RICE
By Christian Livermore
January 13, 2008
Smokey had just started letting Wayne and Laurie Otis handle him.The 20-year-old pony mule had been abused, and until recently flinched at their approach. Now he is a beloved pet.
Unfortunately, the Otises have to give up Smokey and his 12-year-old brother, Blackjack, because they have lost to foreclosure the 7 acres the two pony mules live on.To learn more
For more information, contact the Catskill Animal Sanctuary at 336-8447 or www.casanctuary.org or The Humane Society of the United States at www.hsus.org.
"It hurts," Wayne Otis said. "They were family pets for us."
The Otises are among a growing number of people who have to give up large animals — horses, mules and donkeys — because of foreclosure.In many cases, these are not animals who have been neglected. They are loved family pets the owners are forced to give away because they have nowhere to keep them.Foreclosure activity up There were 154 foreclosure-related filings in Nov. 2007 in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties combined, up from 124 the previous month and 80 in November 2006, according to RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based marketer of foreclosed properties. The Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Ulster County has seen a dramatic rise in calls — sometimes five a day — from people looking for a shelter for their large animals, said shelter director Kathy Stevens.Stevens got four calls on Friday morning alone."We've had calls every single winter. What's different about this year is this situation of economic hardship that has completely blindsided us," she said. "What we've never had is multiple calls every day from people saying, 'I'm losing my farm and I have to find a place for my animals,' or 'I'm losing my rental property,' or 'I have to feed my kids. I can't afford to feed my horses.'"
Catskill is building three new shelters, which will house another 18 or so animals, at a cost of about $28,000.Animals losing homes
The problem is not limited to farm animals, either.Humane societies are hearing the first rumblings from people giving up house pets because of foreclosures, said Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for The Humane Society of the United States."We're starting to hear a few things here and there from shelters," she said. "We're not hearing a huge amount yet, and hopefully we won't. Our fear, of course, is that as people find themselves in really difficult financial situations, these animals are going to be losing their homes in greater numbers. It's heartbreaking for them to lose their pet in the midst of everything else."
The lucky animals make it to shelters, Shain said. The unlucky ones are simply abandoned in the house.
"There have been cases where animals have been found already dead because it's been weeks between the time the family has to leave and the time somebody goes in there to rent it or whatever," Shain said.
Finding solutions The Humane Society hopes to get ahead of the problem by helping people find ways to keep their pets with them when they move, by making them aware of pet-friendly rental housing and, as a last resort, encouraging them to take pets to shelters rather than abandoning them.
Other local shelters have not yet noticed an uptick in animals because of foreclosures.
"Most people don't go into detail — 'The house is being foreclosed on' — that might be more personal than they want to get with me," said Adam Saunders, shelter manager of the Ulster County SPCA, "but the most common reason is, 'I have to move, I can't take the pet with me.' It would make sense that that is happening more because there are more foreclosures going on."
The Sullivan County SPCA has seen the same rate of animals given up because of evictions and foreclosure — about two or three a month — over the past two years or so, said its vice president, Manon Fortier.
The Catskill Animal Sanctuary has already committed to shelter eight new animals, and is hoping for public support so it can take in more.
"If we responded to all these requests, we could take in 100 animals tomorrow," Stevens said. "We can't do that. We've got to respect our limits, so we're just trying to get people to do their part. Then we will start to make decisions about how many we can take in."
Helping to Keep Homelessness at Bay as Foreclosures Hit More Families
Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times
Stephanie De Felice, an artist with a debilitating spine injury, lost her apartment in Poughkeepsie with little notice when the homeowner faced foreclosure proceedings. She needed financial assistance to help pay for utilities and other bills.
Staff Sgt. Sandra Rolon spent more than a year in Kuwait, managing food service operations at a military base as part of the 408th Personnel Service Battalion in the U.S. Army Reserve. She thought of her time there in 2004 as a way both to serve her country and to pursue a more personal goal: buying a home.
Deerpark widow losing home after foreclosure scheme
Widow losing home after foreclosure scheme
'Rescue' scams usually involve mortgage buyout
Widow losing home after foreclosure scheme
'Rescue' scams usually involve mortgage buyout
Hendra Wargo, 64, is fighting a home mortgage scam and might lose her Deerpark house.
Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON
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Hendra Wargo’s Deerpark home went into foreclosure when she fell into debt after her husband’s death in 2002. In 2005, Wargo became victim of a home mortgage scam that now threatens her ownership of the house she’s lived in for 30 years.Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON
By Ashley Kelly
October 02, 2007 Hendra Wargo keeps her dead husband's voice on her answering machine. His brown shoes sit on the floor beside the coffee table. Jack died of an aneurism in 2002.
Wargo fell into debt after Jack's death when she was unable to keep up the family storage business. Her two-bedroom ranch-style house in Deerpark went into foreclosure and she didn't know how to save it. Then her phone rang in December of 2005.
The caller, a Long Island man who identified himself as Paul Jean, said he could save Wargo's house from foreclosure. She believed him. But now the 64-year-old widow is losing her home.
Evolution of a foreclosure From late payment to loss of home"¦ Day 1 You miss a mortgage payment.
Days 16-30 Late charges begin and the mortgage service company attempts to contact you.
Days 45-60 You will receive a "demand" or "breach" letter saying you violated the terms of the mortgage. You are given 30 days to pay the delinquent amount.
Days 90-105 Your loan is referred to the service company's foreclosure department. A formal foreclosure notice may be recorded at county court, details of the debt published in the local newspaper, and public hearings on the case held.
Day 150-415: Your house is sold through a court-ordered sale or auction.
Wargo is among thousands of Americans who have fallen victim to a foreclosure rescue scam. The scam artist usually says he will buy out a family's mortgage and then have them pay rent, according to a study by the National Consumer Law Center. Other predators come in and strip the house of its equity. Many families end up evicted as a result of either scam, according to the study.
The elderly are all too often the targets, said Bill Ferris, an AARP New York state lobbyist.
"Seniors have always been targets"¦ usually because they have equity in their homes," Ferris said. "Predators say, 'I will help you stay in your home and protect your credit.'"
Many scam artists troll public foreclosure notices in newspapers or at government offices for victims, experts say.
And more local homeowners are falling into foreclosure. Between June and August of this year, there were 293 foreclosure filings in Orange County, up from 180 during the same time period in 2006, according to RealtyTrac, a company that collects national data on foreclosure filings.
"It was a very crazy time," said Wargo, referring to when she got a call from Jean. "He seemed like a nice guy. I take people as they are, if they seem nice to me I'm nice to them back."
While AARP calls what happened to Wargo a scam, Jean did not commit a crime, said Orange County Senior Assistant District Attorney John Geidel. Wargo's case is the first Geidel said he's heard of regarding foreclosure scams in Orange County.
"While what the guy did may be slimy, she did sign all the documents over to him," Geidel said. "No criminal act was done on his behalf to get ownership."
Wargo has turned to civil courts for help. In a lawsuit filed last year in state Supreme Court, Wargo alleges Jean forged her signature and misrepresented and/or concealed the purpose of documents, including the deed to her house. The lawsuit seeks to get her house back in her name.
"Instead of soliciting permission, he bought the house from right under her," said David Maho, Wargo's lawyer. "He left her with nothing."
And now Jean's disappeared, Maho said. A phone number on Jean's business card was out of service when called yesterday. Other attempts to contact Jean for comment were not successful.
Maho is trying to get a judge to stop the foreclosure, but that won't matter at this point.
Even if the judge decides to put the house back in Wargo's name, she still has no money to pay for it on her own. Working part-time as a food presenter at local grocery stores keeps money in her pocket, but it won't be enough to save her house.
Wargo even considered getting a roommate — a gesture contrary to how she and Jack lived.
"We were very private people," Wargo said. "This was our special place."
With no family support, Wargo must fight for her house alone.
Mild comfort only comes from a timeless tape recording and a pair of old brown shoes.
Kim Gianna, a housing counselor with Hudson River Housing, speaks with Joseph Cataudella of Kerhonkson at Wednesday’s foreclosure prevention seminar at Blooming Grove Town Hall.Times Herald-Record/DOMINICK FIORILLE
By Michael Levensohn
Posted: May 28, 2009 - 2:00 AM
BLOOMING GROVE — Since late last year, Hudson River Housing has counseled more than 1,000 distressed homeowners from Orange, Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan counties.
"That was actually our two-year goal," said Mary Linge, director of home ownership and education for the agency; part of a $1 million initiative to fight foreclosures in the mid-Hudson. While the demand for foreclosure-prevention services has exceeded expectations, so have the results.
"Eighty-five percent of the people who come to us, we're able to prevent the foreclosure," said Linge.To learn more
For more information, contact Hudson River Housing at 888-377-7713, and Orange County Rural Development Advisory Corp. at 457-4622.
While she answered questions near the back of the room Wednesday afternoon, roughly 20 people made their way around the meeting room at Blooming Grove Town Hall, seeking advice from the bankers and counselors gathered for a foreclosure-prevention seminar.
"I'm trying to keep my home and get out from under a predatory loan," said Emanuel Archibald of Highland Mills, who is fighting his mortgage company in court. Archibald said he had no idea when he got the loan that his monthly payment would eventually double. Loan modifications
Hudson River Housing's early clients had a lot in common with Archibald: Many were saddled with subprime loans that ballooned in cost. These days, Linge said she's seeing more victims of the recession, households where one or both of the breadwinners have lost their jobs. Linge's is one of a handful of agencies helping homeowners engineer loan modifications, in which the terms of a mortgage are altered to make it more affordable to the homeowner.
Here are a few rules for dealing with a possible foreclosure, according to experts at the seminar:
Don't wait to get help, and don't ignore any mail from your lender.
"Be aware of scams," said Faith Piatt of Orange County Rural Development Advisory Corp. Anyone who calls or sends brochures guaranteeing to save your home is probably working an angle. Never pay upfront for foreclosure assistance.
Be prepared to adopt a "crisis budget."
Be patient. Many loan servicers are still reviewing modification requests made months ago.
Even if you negotiate a modification yourself, you should have a counselor review it, Piatt said, because it might contain some of the same fine print that got you in trouble in the first place.
Sunday February 24, 2008, 4:01 pm
September 15, 2007
Foreclosure and Westchester County
AS WESTCHESTER FORECLOSURES CONTINUE TO RISE, WESTCHESTER COUNTY CLERK IDONI URGES RESIDENTS AT RISK TO SEEK REPUTABLE COUNSELING
Westchester County Clerk Timothy C. Idoni today announced that 527 foreclosures were commenced during the first quarter of 2007. This figure marks a 39% increase over the first quarter of 2006, and a 116% increase over the first quarter of 2005. These increases follow national trends which have been attributed to a slower housing market and an increase in sub-prime mortgages issued to individuals with poor credit, minimal savings or low incomes in exchange for higher interest rates, read more.
Sunday February 24, 2008, 4:06 pm
Look at this article He say it so happily because he making the money but Dont the fool knows all that foreclosure brings is more Crime home value go down and they just destroy these home.Smurf
Home > News > Article
Foreclosures net Sullivan $1.39M
By Adam Bosch
November 07, 2007
Monticello — When piecing together the 2007 budget, county Treasurer Ira Cohen predicted that Sullivan would make $1.2 million from the sale of foreclosed properties.
Well, the numbers are in, and Sullivan County has made $1.39 million.
"Pretty good, huh?" Cohen said with a laugh.
In two auctions in June and October, Sullivan County sold 133 properties that had been foreclosed for delinquent taxes.
The properties sold for about $1.67 million. Profits from those sales will go into the county's general fund to "help us get through the rest of the year," Cohen said.
This year's auction was slightly more profitable than 2006, when 87 properties were sold. The county pocketed $1.2 million in that sale.
But while profits were up, trends within the auctions indicated a slumping economy, Cohen said.
When bidders did not follow through with their purchase, some properties that had sold at the first auction sold again at the second auction for a much cheaper price.
For instance, a home in Mamakating went for $555,000 in the first auction, but the winning bidder defaulted.
It went for $275,000 at the second auction. A vacant parcel of land that bid out at $29,500 the first time only went for $8,000 in round two.
"We think it's a reflection of the economy," Cohen said, "and the auction company said they were seeing similar trends."
Throughout this year, county statistics have shown a downturn in property purchases. Halfway through 2007, new deeds filed in Sullivan County were down by about 20 percent compared with last year.
Sheldon Slifstein, president of the Sullivan County Board of Realtors, said there are good, cheap deals out there, but buyers are mostly tentative.
"The market hasn't gotten better, but it hasn't gotten worse, either," Slifstein said.
"There are good buys out there, but people seem to be waiting because they think it might drop further."
Sunday February 24, 2008, 4:10 pm
Foreclosures were up for November
Mortgage data shows locals followed trend
By Michael Levensohn
December 20, 2007
Homeowners increasingly failed to keep up with their home-loan payments in November, as the number of foreclosure-related filings surged 68 percent nationwide compared with the same month a year ago, according to a mortgage research company.
Last month's filings fell 10 percent compared to October, California-based RealtyTrac Inc. said yesterday.
Locally, there were 19 foreclosures in Orange County during November, according to RealtyTrac. There were eight foreclosures in Sullivan County, seven in Ulster and one in Pike County, Pa.
Those numbers represent bank repossessions of properties, which make up just a fraction of the foreclosure-related activity followed by RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties.
Foreclosure-related filings, including default and auction notices, totaled 112 in Orange County, 19 in Sullivan, 23 in Ulster and two in Pike.
Compared with October, filings in Orange increased 78 percent, while Sullivan's climbed 46 percent and Ulster's fell 52 percent.
November 2006 data for local counties was not available yesterday.
Media reports have raised concerns about the reliability of RealtyTrac data. A single property might receive more than one notice, for instance, if its owners have multiple mortgages.
According to the November data, the 19 lender repossessions in Orange County last month outnumbered foreclosures in nine states.
Sunday February 24, 2008, 4:13 pm
Home > Business > Article
Home prices sluggish, across country
By The Associated Press
January 31, 2007
New York — Prices of single-family homes across the nation rose in November at the slowest rate in more than a decade, a housing index released yesterday by Standard & Poor's showed, countering other evidence that the housing slowdown may be nearing an end.
The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index showed a 1.3 percent year-over-year increase in the price of a single-family home based on existing homes tracked over time in 10 metropolitan markets. For its 20-city composite index, prices grew 1.7 percent, the slowest rate ever for that data, according to the S&P index committee chairman, David Blitzer. That data has been collected since 2001.
"The weakness continues to spread," Blitzer said. "I don't see any signs of a bottom. Unfortunately, it's still looking pretty nasty from a housing point of view."
The last time the growth dipped lower than 1.3 percent for the 10-city index was in September 1996, when it measured 1.2 percent.
All cities in the survey, except for Charlotte, N.C., showed a decline in annual returns when compared to the prior month. Seven of the 20 cities show negative annual returns.
In the mid-Hudson region, home prices have been flat or even down slightly in recent months, according to data compiled by local boards of Realtors.
Sunday February 24, 2008, 4:14 pm
Tuesday February 5, 2008, 1:43 pm
Business in the Burbs: Westchester foreclosure rate rises 40%
• January 5, 2008
Westchester County closed 2007 with foreclosure activity up 40.1 percent over the previous year, the county clerk's office said yesterday.
There were 2,166 new foreclosure actions started in the county, up from 1,546 in 2006. The 2006 level itself was up 42.8 percent over 2005.
The number of foreclosure judgments by courts in 2007 also was up sharply. There were 707 judgments, up 60.7 percent from 2006. The figure was more than double the 300 foreclosure judgments in 2005.
Industry observers said the increase in subprime mortgage problems has contributed to higher foreclosures in the Lower Hudson Valley. Borrowers with less than perfect credit took the loans out to buy houses and multiunit properties; they often fell behind in payments when the interest rates started to reset at higher levels in 2007.
In Rockland County, foreclosure filing were up 16.2 percent year over year through October, to 1,045 total. In Putnam, they were up 44.3 percent in that period, for a total of 368.
The U.S. International Trade Commission said yesterday that it will begin looking into allegations that ASUSTeK, based in Taiwan, infringed on patents belonging to Armonk-based IBM Corp. Big Blue filed a complaint with the commission last month. The complaint, which also targets ASUSTeK's North American subsidiary, ASUS Computer International, seeks to have certain ASUSTeK computer products and components barred from entry into the United States. The commission's decision to investigate IBM's claims doesn't mean the agency has reached a decision about the merits of the case, the ITC said.
Fortistar completes purchase of six sites
Fortistar LLC, an energy company based in White Plains, closed on its acquisition of Algonquin Power Income Fund's six landfill gas-to-energy projects in California and New Hampshire, Fortistar said yesterday. The $11.3 million deal closed Dec. 21, Fortistar said. The projects expand Fortistar's presence in states that aggressively support expansion of green and renewable energy, it said.
RBA seeks nominations for 'Pinnacle' awards
The Rockland Business Association seeks nominees for its 2008 Pinnacle Awards, which recognize RBA members and their businesses for achievement in six categories. Awards will be presented to the winners during a ceremony April 9. Deadline for nominations is Jan. 25. Nomination forms are available at the chamber's Web site at www.rocklandbusiness.org. Call 845-735-2100 for more information.
Rockland mover moves itself to Valley Cottage
Santi Express Inc., a Rockland-based moving company, has moved to larger offices at 616 Corporate Way in Valley Cottage. At 6,500 square feet, the new space is about twice as large as the company's former Suffern offices, the company said. Santi Express, founded 32 years ago by President Sheryl Santi-Luks, employs about a dozen workers and serves the eastern half of the United States.
Yonkers banker opens Fairfield County branch
Hudson Valley Bank has opened a branch in Stamford, Conn., at 1055 Summer St., the Yonkers-based banker said this week. Further, Hudson Valley Bank said it expects construction of a new Mamaroneck branch to be completed in April. For the last two months, Hudson Valley Bank has been operating a temporary site at 875 Mamaroneck Ave. until renovations to the permanent site, in the same building can be completed. With the additions, Hudson Valley Bank now has 24 branches in Westchester County, New City, New York City and Stamford.
Ultrasound school opening in New Rochelle
The Center for Ultrasound Research and Education, a school for ultrasound instruction, will hold a grand opening next Friday at Suite 1111 of the Kaufman Building at 271 North Ave. in New Rochelle. Mayor Noam Bramson will attend.
Reported by Jerry Gleeson and David Schepp. Reach Schepp at email@example.com or 845-578-2437.http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080105/BUSINESS01/801050333/1066
Sunday February 24, 2008, 5:41 pm
Sunday January 27, 2008, 1:49 pm
Fed data show upstate hurt less by subprime woes in state
ALBANY, NY -- The subprime mortgage meltdown has not hit upstate New York as hard as many other areas.
According to data released Friday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average rate of subprime mortgage foreclosures throughout the state is 9.7 percent.
That's about 2 percentage points above the national average, largely because of New York City, Long Island, the mid-Hudson Valley and the greater Albany area.
However, The foreclosure rate for the rest of upstate New York has generally been about 2 percentage points below the national average.
Story continues below
Says Richard Deitz, a senior economist at the bank's Buffalo branch: "Upstate just didn't have much of a housing boom. It didn't catch much of the upside and probably isn't catching as much of the downside."
Subprime mortgages are a class of loans for borrowers with low credit ratings that became popular during the torrid housing market of the early 2000s. The loans typically have higher interest rates or rates that start low and then move to a higher rate.
Sunday February 24, 2008, 5:44 pm
Fed data show NYC, Long Island stung most by subprime woes
By RICHARD RICHTMYER
Associated Press Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- The subprime mortgage meltdown is taking a toll in New York, with New York City and Long Island feeling the brunt, according to data released Friday.
Overall, the average rate of subprime mortgage foreclosures throughout the state is 9.7 percent, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
That's about 2 percentage points above the national average, said Richard Deitz, a senior economist at the bank's Buffalo branch.
However, with the exception of certain pockets - including the mid-Hudson Valley and the Capital District - the foreclosure rate in upstate has generally been about 2 percentage points below the national average. That includes the major metropolitan areas of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, Deitz said.
"Upstate just didn't have much of a housing boom," Deitz said. "It didn't catch much of the upside and probably isn't catching as much of the downside."
Subprime mortgages are a class of loans for borrowers with low credit ratings that became popular during the torrid housing market of the early 2000s. They typically have higher interest rates or rates that start low and then adjust to a higher rate after a fixed period of time.
Lately there has been a growing number of subprime mortgage defaults amid a cooling market that is leaving some buyers stuck with balances exceeding the worth of their home and others who had low introductory interest rates now facing higher rates they can't afford.
The figures released Friday show that there are 141,934 subprime loans for owner occupied houses statewide.
The zip code with the highest number of subprime loans covers parts of Canarsie and Flatlands in Brooklyn. Of the 1,930 subprime mortgages sold for homes there, 12.2 percent are in foreclosure, according to the bank's figures.
Brentwood on Long Island has the second highest number, with 1,782 loans and a 12.5 percent foreclosure rate. Bay Shore is third, with 1,484 loans and a 13.4 percent foreclosure rate.
Walker Valley in Ulster County shows the highest foreclosure rate, 57.1 percent, but that only accounts for seven mortgages. Other upstate communities show high foreclosure rates - including Ashland in Greene County at 50 percent - on relatively small numbers of loans.
Gene Tricozzi, president of the New York Association of Mortgage Brokers, said New York and Long Island have been harder hit because housing values there rose much more sharply than the rest of the state.
"We just didn't see that kind of appreciation in most other parts of the state," he said.
Lenders also have been tightening their standards, making it more difficult for borrowers who might be in over their heads to find buyers - particularly on Long Island, where most lenders now require 10 percent down payments rather than the 5 percent they previously had accepted, Tricozzi said.
That's making it difficult for homeowners who want to get out of their mortgages to find buyers, he said.
The bank also released subprime mortgage default figures for New Jersey and Connecticut on Friday. They show an average foreclosure rate of about 8 percent in New Jersey and about 7 percent in Connecticut.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York: http://www.newyorkfed.org
Sunday February 24, 2008, 5:46 pm
Talk about itFebruary 26, 2002
Foreclosure on former entertainer imminent
KIAMESHA LAKE: Food or mortgage payment? Neighbor says 81-year-old shouldn't have to decide.
By Ben Montgomery
Angela Cahn wore beautiful sequined gowns when she sang at New York City hot-spots on "Swing Street," such as The Famous Door and Joey Kaufman's Bamboo Cafe in the 1940s. She was young and beautiful, with diamond rings and fur coats.
Now gnats fly around the 81-year-old widow's head while she sits at her soiled kitchen table among scattered boxes packed with Tupperware, boxed macaroni, detergent and other things from of her pantry.
After paying the mounting bills with her Social Security check, Cahn, who made it into Earl Wilson's 1947 New York Post column about night life in the city, can barely afford a gallon of milk.
And if she doesn't get help soon, she won't have a place to live.
Her husband, Jack, a concert violinist and high school music teacher, died of pancreatic cancer in 1992. Before his death, Jack spent his pension and an inheritance he got from his aunt and left nothing for his wife, who was working as an X-ray technician at Sullivan Correctional Facility.
Cahn was forced to quit her job there five years ago when she was 76. She tried to get work elsewhere, but had no luck.
So she was stretching her monthly $818 check from Social Security as far as it would go. Electric bills ran about $90 a month. Her sink leaks, so the water bill climbed as high as $76. And her mortgage payment automatically ate $485.
Then there was car insurance, the telephone bill and the payment for a spot in a crypt at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Newburgh.
"The worst part about it is being alone," Cahn said. "I just don't know what to do."
So she faced a decision. Pay the mortgage? Or buy food?
She quit paying her mortgage.
Now she's being evicted. She must be out by March 8. Cahn got a letter last week that says the bank foreclosed on her home near Kiamesha Lake.
"If they'd just let me stay here, I'd pay rent," she said. "I don't have long to live."
A former neighbor has been helping Cahn look for an apartment, but they've had no luck. She has no children, just a nephew in Pennsylvania who's offered to help her move if she finds a new place to live.
"He's got his own life," Cahn said. "I don't want to bother him."
The neighbor, who didn't want her name used, cries when she thinks about the fate of her elderly friend with no family.
"She told me, 'I was hungry and I couldn't go without eating at all,' " the neighbor said. "She has been nothing but shafted."
Sullivan County has programs to help the elderly, but Cahn doesn't fit the criteria to have someone take care of her. She's not mentally incapacitated, she's not being exploited by someone and she's not addicted to drugs or alcohol.
She's just in a crunch. And she needs help.
Judith Maier, commissioner for Sullivan County Department of Health and Family Services, said the county can help folks like Cahn find other financial assistance, like food stamps and Meals on Wheels. Maier had an outreach worker call Cahn yesterday to try and help.
For Cahn's neighbor, it's simple.
"No one should have to go through this," she said. "No one."
Sunday March 2, 2008, 9:49 am
Published December 10, 2007 06:00 pm -
Mortgage mess confounds, but some were not victims
Gannett News Service
Politicians of all stripes are falling over themselves to help those caught in mortgage messes, pointing to the spike in foreclosures - with about 2 million more expected in the next two years.
The popular culprit is subprime loans, those offered at higher-interest rates to people who don’t qualify for better deals...
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., recently projected the Hudson Valley has more than 50,000 costly subprime home loans outstanding, asserting that, in 30 percent of these cases, individuals may have qualified for lower-interest loans if they had known about them. Schumer included nine counties in his tally.
The statistics are disturbing, and the situation is brutal for those in this bind.
Still, the government should be expected to do only so much. People have to be responsible for the choices they make. And it is clear many people got in over their heads, believing they could afford to buy certain homes when they simply could not. If borrowers were duped into taking on costly debt, those mortgage brokers and private lenders should be dealt with in accordance with the law.
Homeowners feeling the pinch should not assume they have no options. In many cases, mortgage companies would rather modify loans than foreclose on a home. And the government also is offering programs that can help. For example, state officials have established a $100 million “Keep the Dream” refinancing program to offer homeowners with risky mortgages the opportunity to refinance and avoid possible foreclosure. President Bush has announced the federal government will offer a similar option for tens of thousands of at-risk homeowners to refinance their loans through the Federal Housing Administration.
... The problems with the mortgage industry are varied and complex. Government regulators will have to sift through what has happened carefully. Unscrupulous lenders should be punished, and regulations tightened in some cases. But not all loan recipients were victims of the housing industry; rather, they were victims of their own excesses and delusions of what they honestly could afford.
Friday March 21, 2008, 4:39 am
Mortgage mess hurts homeowners
By Dave Carpenter and J.W. Elphinstone
The Associated Press
August 26, 2007
and J.W. Elphinstone
The walls are bare, the closets are empty, and Connie and Timothy Pent and their two teenage children are living out of boxes as they wait for a dreaded knock at the door of their three-bedroom house in Ocala, Fla.
They've fallen behind in payments on their home loan, and their lender told them in July that foreclosure was imminent.
"We thought we were fine," said Connie. "You never know."
An increasing number of homeowners are caught in the mortgage crisis that is claiming victims from all income levels and demographic groups.
For five years, the housing boom put money in the pockets of lenders, brokers, Realtors and investors, granting easy mortgages to buyers with both good and blemished credit.
But as home prices decline and interest rates climb, the cracks in the housing market's foundation are widening.
Loans with adjustable rates, payment choices and loose requirements have trapped borrowers in too-high payments with few options for escape.
Trouble comes in "subprime"
Many of the victims are subprime borrowers — those like the Pents who don't qualify for market interest rates because of blemished credit records.
Estimates say that 2.2 million recent subprime loans will end in foreclosure. But there are many other ways to be hurt in the mortgage crunch. Many prospective home buyers, through little fault of their own, are having trouble getting mortgages because of the changing market.
Others were sold on too much house, piled up huge loans based on the inflated value of their property and didn't fully understand the interest rates they would have to pay.
Nearly $1.12 trillion worth of hybrid and traditional adjustable-rate mortgages were originated in 2005 and 2006, while $779.13 billion of interest-only ARMs were issued in that period.
Many of these loans offered low "teaser" interest rates that will reset through 2009, slamming borrowers with higher rates.
Attempts to rework troubled loans will become increasingly common, since foreclosure benefits neither lender nor borrower, said James Gaines of The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
The problem is that the lender might not have any authority to redo them because of the way loans are now bundled and resold.
"It's unlike the old days where the bank you borrowed from just kept your loan on the books," he said.
David Downs, a professor of real estate at Virginia Commonwealth University, believes blame for the current quagmire falls on all involved. But he says the consumer should be held accountable first.
Losing Dad's house
"If somebody takes on financial risk, it's incumbent on the consumer to understand that," Downs said.
The Pents grieve losing their three-acre property in the middle of horse country, with its swimming pool and fish pond.
"It was my dad's house," said Connie, 39, an elementary school receptionist. Their troubles began in April 2006 when they refinanced the remaining $207,000 on a 30-year fixed loan to a two-year adjustable rate mortgage so they could pay down hefty obligations on their SUV and pickup truck.
A mortgage broker told them just before the closing that the remaining debt would be $3,500 more than expected, but they signed anyway.
A sequence of events left them unable to keep up. First, Connie's mother moved out and stopped helping with mortgage payments. Then Timothy lost his job at a mobile home factory because of the housing industry slump.
Their loan-servicing company first demanded payments, then stopped returning their calls. "We probably should have been better prepared for it," Connie said. "When the job goes, unfortunately, so does everything else."
With two adults, two children and three dogs, Val Rasmussen's 14-by-70-foot trailer in Lincoln County, Mont., was crowded.
After her husband, Tom, landed a better-paying job, they planned to sell the trailer and move into a three-bedroom house.
"This was a pretty major step for us, buying a house," Rasmussen, 27, said.
With their trailer languishing on the market, they went ahead with the purchase with 100 percent financing from First Magnus Financial Corp.
The family closed on a $159,000 loan on a Wednesday and planned to move the following Saturday. But that Thursday, First Magnus told them the loan would not be funded. The Tucson-based lender suspended its operations indefinitely.
The Rasmussens scrambled to find a new loan, but found no one underwriting 100 percent mortgages anymore. Desperate, they dropped the price of their trailer by $10,000 and found a buyer. They plan to use the money to secure a traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with 20 percent down.
$20,000 prepay penalty
Jeanna and Vernon Marshall, who have seven children, were renting a home when the owner decided to sell and gave them 30 days to move.
They hurriedly signed what they thought was a $365,000, 30-year fixed mortgage on a four-bedroom home in Henderson, Nev.
After the closing, they realized they had signed onto a two-year interest-only, adjusted-rate mortgage that they could barely afford, with a payment of $2,923 a month.
Jeanna Marshall, 36 and disabled, receives $1,500 a month in Social Security, while husband Vernon, 41, is a driver for UPS netting about $3,000 a month.
Last year, Vernon's work slowed down and they fell behind on their payments. They tried renegotiating, but mortgage companies only wanted more every month. No other company would refinance the loan because it carried a $20,000 early payment penalty.
The house went into foreclosure in May. The Marshalls are looking for a place to rent.
The exploding ARM
Sharon Reuss of the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate abusive practices in home mortgages, says loans that give borrowers a fixed payment for the first two or three years before the monthly obligations adjust sharply upward — dubbed "exploding ARMs" — have been particularly troublesome.
That's what happened to the Fanfan family. The three-bedroom bungalow that Milca and Josy Fanfan bought in 2002 in Brockton, Mass., wasn't their dream house. But at $215,000 it was what they could afford for themselves and their son, Nathaniel, 3.
With subpar credit, they were able to get a loan from Ameriquest Mortgage Co. with a hefty fixed interest rate of 9.5 percent.
The problems began when their mortgage broker called at the last minute to say they needed to come up with an extra $8,000 in fees. At the closing, they were told the loan would be adjustable-rate, not fixed.
Then Josy, a self-employed remodeling contractor, lost a finger in an on-the-job accident and was out of work for months. That put the couple behind in payments.
Milca asked that the loan be reworked, to no avail. Meanwhile, monthly payments on the adjustable-rate mortgage have ballooned from $1,700 to $3,000.
Milca called her lender almost daily without response and piled up attorneys' bills and late fees. She had problems sleeping from all the anxiety, and her hair started falling out.
"Every month it was like, 'Is this nightmare going to be over?'" she said.
Ameriquest spokesman Chris Orlando said the loan was made through an independent broker and that his company had worked with the Fanfans to keep them in their home.
After foreclosure proceedings began in February, Milca was referred by her state bank commissioner's office to a state-funded agency that fights unscrupulous mortgage lenders and brokers. Through the agency, the Fanfans negotiated a rate of 9.5 percent and the right to refinance in two years.
The battle to make payments isn't over, but Milca is working several jobs to make sure it is won. "I want people to know they can fight," she said. "Don't be ashamed to cry out for help."
Friday March 21, 2008, 4:40 am
Beth Quinn: Richonomics 101 in post-Bush America
By Beth Quinn
January 21, 2008
I used to feel like a fool for not being rich.
I'd see friends taking great vacations, hiring nannies, buying fabulous cars and wearing expensive jewelry.
And I'd wonder, what's wrong with me that I'm not rich? During the dot.com bubble in the '90s, especially, it seemed like everyone else knew a money secret.
But not now.
Right now, I'm feeling rich — not so much for what I have but for what I don't have.
I don't have a subprime mortgage. I don't have any credit card debt, either. And I don't owe more on my house than I can sell it for.
With our economy tanking big-time now, that makes me part of the nouveau riche.
In fact, I was made for the coming recession. I'm so used to not being rich, I'm hardly going to notice. I stopped buying things I couldn't pay for a long time ago because I couldn't stand the pain in my stomach when I'd open a credit card bill.
In fact, if my household economy were in the same shape as America's right now, I'd be sitting on the edge of the bathtub holding my gut and rocking back and forth because I'd be on the verge of puking.
Bush inherited a robust economy and a $127 billion surplus — and he's squandered it all like he was playing the slots in Atlantic City, betting the rent, the food, the furniture and our grandchildren's future in the process.
He lost it all and racked up a record $5 trillion debt in the process. China owns us.
Consider what my own household economy would be like if I ran it like Bush has run America. The facts and figures are from Joseph
Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia:
He gave multi-trillion-dollar tax breaks to the rich. (I could go on a spending spree if I didn't pay taxes! Like, I could buy a really cool-looking, expensive toilet with the money I saved by not helping the village maintain the sewer system.)
He engaged in a ruinous war of choice in Iraq — a trillion-dollar war that's being "paid for" off-budget. (I know! I could start a fire on the lawn
of some guy my father hated and feed the flames with borrowed money.)
He failed to invest in our decaying infrastructure, like levees in New Orleans and bridges in Minneapolis. (So what if the roof is leaking! My husband does a heck of a job bailing water with a bucket.)
He failed to invest in basic technological research and failed to fund the education of engineers and scientists to compete with the new world brain trust in China and India. (I could create an empty slogan for my kids, kind of like "No Child Left Behind"! Much cheaper than helping them pay for college and med school.)
We're just now opening the bill for all this prolifigate spending. And we're starting to feel the pain.
Some are losing their homes in mortgage defaults; many are thinking twice about the price of gas before taking a road trip; the poor are showing up in greater numbers at the food pantry.
And it's going to get much worse — for a long time. The gap between the middle and upper classes has become a chasm.
But me, I'm rich. At least for the moment. I can afford Rimadyl for my dog Huck's arthritis, I've got food in the freezer, and my 10-year-old car is paid for and running.
All the rest might be stuff I want, but it's not stuff I need.
During the Great Depression, my mother's family ate dandelion greens for salad with their dinner. Sometimes, dandelions were their dinner. They're a little bitter, but they go down well with oil and vinegar. And they're very nourishing.
That's just a little tip to keep in mind should the day come when the cost of lettuce is too dear in your household, too.
* * *
There are 365 days 'til Jan. 20, 2009.
Beth's column appears on Monday. Talk to her at 346-3147 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday February 25, 2009, 12:03 pm
Guilty plea in Central Valley-based mortgage scam
By Chris Mckenna
November 14, 2008
CENTRAL VALLEY — A third suspect accused of taking part in a mortgage scam based in a home office in Central Valley has pleaded guilty, federal prosecutors announced this week.
Riccardo White, 48, pleaded guilty to fraud charges on Monday in federal court in White Plains. He is due to be sentenced in April and faces up to 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.
White and three other men were arrested in April and charged with scamming homeowners and mortgage brokers from 2003-06 through a business called the Nationwide Lending Group.
Much of the activity allegedly took place in the basement of a 4,400-square-foot house in the ritzy Greens of Woodbury development.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the group defrauded homeowners out of $1.3 million by selling them mortgages after lying to them about the interest rates. The brokers, meanwhile, allegedly got bilked out of $350,000 by buying phony lists of prospective mortgage clients.
Gregory Cooper, 41, who lived in the Greenwich Avenue home where the group worked, is the only suspect awaiting trial. Lawrence Burke, 48, and Zachary Cutler, 58, have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
According to authorities, White was living with Cooper when the arrests took place; Cutler lived in the hamlet of Wallkill and Burke rented a room on Nininger Road in Central Valley.
Wednesday February 25, 2009, 2:07 pm
Orange County offers free advice on avoiding foreclosures
By Chris Mckenna
Posted: January 08, 2009 - 2:00 AM
MIDDLETOWN — Homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages can get advice on how to avoid foreclosure through a new program offered by the Orange County Office of Community Development and Hudson River Housing Inc.
The free counseling sessions are offered in county offices at 18 Seward Ave. To schedule an appointment, call Hudson River Housing at 888-377-7713.
Monday October 12, 2009, 5:18 am
Seminar on foreclosures scheduled for Wednesday
Posted: May 26, 2009 - 2:00 AM
BLOOMING GROVE — A seminar will be held Wednesday for homeowners at risk of foreclosure.
Hosted by U.S. Rep. John Hall, D-Dover Plains, it will feature presentations on mortgage relief and refinancing, as well as one-on-one financial counseling. It begins at noon Wednesday in Blooming Grove Town Hall at 6 Horton Road.
Tuesday November 3, 2009, 2:12 pm
Aug. homes sales, prices tumble in region
By Diana Costello • email@example.com • September 25, 2009
The number of existing homes sold last month compared to a year earlier hinted that it was still a buyer's market despite recent gains - with home sales sliding more drastically in the Lower Hudson Valley than statewide.
The New York State Association of Realtors Inc. released figures Thursday showing that both the number of homes sold and the median home prices suffered in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties compared to August 2008.
The hardest hit came in Putnam County, where 18.2 percent fewer homes were sold. Westchester County experienced a 13.9 percent drop, and Rockland recorded a 5 percent decrease.
Statewide, sales of existing homes were down 2.8 percent versus August 2008 compared to an increase of 3.4 percent nationally.
The new data put a damper on the recovering housing market, showing that monthly sales from July to August fell 2.3 percent in New York - ending five consecutive months of growth, according to figures from the New York State Association of Realtors. Similarly disappointing news at the national level drove stocks downward, reversing morning gains.
"We believe the slight decrease in sales is not an indicator of any change in the overall health of the New York housing market, and we anticipate the market will remain active into the early fall," Duncan R. MacKenzie, the association's CEO, said in a news release.
Local markets bucked the statewide monthly decline, with sales from July to August rising in all three counties. Putnam led the way with a 10.2 percent gain, while Westchester registered a 4.1 percent jump and Rockland a 2.3 percent rise.
Home sales have been bolstered during the past few months by falling prices, a special $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers and affordable mortgage rates.
(2 of 2)
The aver[0xad]age rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 5.19 percent in August, down from 6.48 percent a year ago, according to mortgage underwriter Freddie Mac.
Looking at prices, the median sale price fell in all three Lower Hudson Valley counties compared to August of last year.
The median sale price in Westchester was $644,250, an 11 percent drop; in Rockland it was $440,000, a 5 percent decline; and for Putnam, it was $337,500, a 19 percent dip.
The median price statewide fell 7 percent to $205,000.
Only Rockland experienced a monthly increase in prices from July to August, rising 4.9 percent. Prices during this time fell by 4 percent in Putnam and 2.4 percent in Westchester. Statewide, that figure rose 2.5 percent.
One of the biggest drags on home prices in Putnam County is that sellers are competing with foreclosed properties, said Donald Mituzas, vice president of the Putnam County Association of Realtors.
Yet because the prices have come down so drastically, Mituzas recently has seen an encouraging trend - the return of flippers.
These buyers typically swoop into distressed houses with the goal of fixing them up and quickly flipping them for a profit.
One recent flipper bought a foreclosed property for $359,000 in Patterson, completely redid it with a new kitchen, heating system, bathroom fixtures and more, and sold it in two to three weeks for between $550,000 and $600,000, Mituzas said.
Not wanting to miss out on a good opportunity, Mituzas has even gotten in on the action himself.
He recently upgraded to a 3,000-square-foot home in Brewster at a cost of $612,000 after selling his smaller home in the village for $492,000.
"It's a good time to buy, it definitely is," he said. "And I practice what I preach."
Tuesday November 3, 2009, 2:22 pm
Sunday February 24, 2008, 3:58 pm
August 23, 2007
Home foreclosures jump
Rate nearly doubles over last year; bankruptcies also up
Author: JAMES SCHLETT
Unable to pay higher bills on adjustable-rate mortgages, Capital Region homeowners are losing their houses at a rapidly increasing pace.
Foreclosures initiated in the region -- including Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties -- almost doubled in the first half of the year, compared to the same period of 2006.
Many of the foreclosures are being blamed on the subprime mortgage crisis, and real estate and credit experts say it could take years before the problem is under control. "It's going to be getting worse. We're going to be seeing a lot of people because of . . . their loans coming in," said Karyn Dettbarn, branch manager for Consumer Credit Counseling Services in Colonie.
During the first six months of the year, 1,017 foreclosures were initiated by lenders on area households. That is an 89.7 percent jump over 536 a year earlier, according to data compiled by Rivertown Financial in Albany, a company which helps people facing foreclosure keep their houses. The statistics do not account for tax foreclosures by local governments.
At the same time, the number of people seeking a bankruptcy court's protection in a bid to keep their homes has also increased slightly. A bankruptcy filing is the only recourse homeowners have for stopping a pending foreclosure
"The common element for all of them is in increasing interest rates and the increasing cost for fuel and gasoline," Capital Region Bankruptcy Bar Association President Francis Brennan said of the increase in bankruptcy petitions.
By the end of the first half of the year, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of New York in Albany received 1,818 bankruptcy petitions, up 11.3 percent from the first half of 2006. During the same period, the number of people seeking Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection rose 3 percent to 605, according to court data.
Under Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, homeowners can establish payment pla ns spanning a number of years to cure mortgage arrears. The plans enable debtors to keep their homes.
Rivertown has also been working with a growing number of financially distressed homeowners with subprime mortgages. The firm arranges deals in which it buys homes at market prices. Rivertown then leases the homes to their previous owners, who can use funds from the liquidation to pay off debts. After that people can buy back their homes from the firm.
"We are dealing with a lot of people in bad loan products," said Rivertown Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Goldman.
Since last spring, homeowners nationwide have been receiving disturbing letters in the mail -- notices from lenders saying their monthly mortgage bills will increase by hundreds or thousands of dollars.
During the U.S. housing boom that peaked in summer 2005, many banks took advantage of historically low interest rates. They developed a variety of mortgage products featuring low initial payments, usually for one to five years. Those products lured into the market people with poor credit.
The growth of that subprime market fueled the nation's longest running housing boom. But it also tied borrowers to homes they could not afford. That fact is becoming more apparent as mortgages payments are adjusted.
"It's an all-of-a-sudden thing. They don't realize how much their mortgages are going to go up," said Dettbarn.
ARMs were extremely attractive in June 2004 when the Federal Reserve's overnight lending rate to banks dropped to 1 percent. But concerns over inflation compelled the Fed to raise that rate 17 consecutive times by a quarter of a percentage point each time. It finally stopped in June 2006 at 5.25 percent.
As the subprime mortgage crisis roils Wall Street and cuts off many avenues for credit, pressure is mounting for the Fed to lower its short-term lending rate.
Countrywide Financial Corp. ! -- the nation's largest mortgage lender -- last Thursday precipitated a selling frenzy on Wall Street. That morning it announced it had drawn out an entire $11.5 billion bank credit line as its access to short-term funding dries up.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 343 points that day, but it recovered most of that loss by the close of trading. However, Countrywide's recovery will be less swift. The Calabasas, Calif.-based company Monday announced plans to cut 500 workers from its work force of over 60,000. It has loan offices in Saratoga Springs and Latham, but it is not clear whether employees were laid off at those locations.
Even if the Fed decides to cut its overnight rate, most banks will likely not back away from implementing steep ARM adjustments. They will attempt to "shake out the bad loans in the system," Brennan said.
August 21, 2007
Area Foreclosures Nearly Double
June 4, 2007
Foreclosure Forecast to Top 2 Million Homes
May 28, 2007
Big Garage Sale - Housing Market Collapse Attracts Bargain Hunters
May 24, 2007
Mortgage Lenders Using Rivertown as Alternative for Troubled Homeowners
ALBANY, NY—The recent collapse of the subprime lending market has steered mortgage brokers and lenders across the country to companies like Rivertown Financial for assistance with troubled homeowners.
Now more than ever, millions of American homeowners are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. This is primarily due to the fact that many homeowners mortgaged their properties using adjustable rate loans that are no longer affordable once their initial “teaser” rates expire. Mortgage brokers across the nation are feeling the effect of this “homeowner crisis”, as many borrowers are turning to them for assistance with their difficult situation.
However, in many circumstances, the mortgage broker is unable to find a loan program to refinance the borrower’s loan due to factors which most often include problems with credit score, payment history or foreclosure. Mortgage brokers throughout the country are now finding themselves stuck with numerous distressed homeowners who have nowhere to turn to get out of their unaffordable loans.
Rivertown Financial works with homeowners who face foreclosure and puts them on track to get out of debt, tap into their home equity, and – most importantly – keep their homes in the end. For a homeowner who is in default on their mortgage and can’t refinance, the only way to access the equity in his or her home is to sell it, which is often a heartbreaking and emotionally draining ordeal. Rivertown’s program alleviates this by making it possible for these homeowners to sell their homes in this tight market without having to move, which creates an ideal situation for those who rarely have other avenues.
This also creates a positive alternative for mortgage brokers because it gives them an option for customers that they wouldn’t normally be able to help.
Rivertown Financial operates under a business model that prevents its customers from losing their homes. Homeowners who sell their homes to Rivertown can use the sale proceeds to pay off their mortgages and other burdensome debts. In addition to clearing up these derogatory credit items, participants reestablish a positive housing payment history by making timely rental payments during the LeaseBack term. The final stage of the program involves the homeowner’s repurchase of the property, after achieving long-term financial stability and creditworthiness sufficient to get a new loan.
Rivertown was founded in 2002 in Nyack, N.Y. In the past two years, Rivertown has expanded from three employees to fifteen, at its headquarters on Central Avenue in Albany, as well as in other offices in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Rivertown has worked with customers in New York’s Capital Region, Hudson Valley and the New York Metropolitan area, as well as Northern New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania. Rivertown Financial is a member of the Upstate New York Better Business Bureau.
For more information, visit www.rivertownfinancial.com, or contact the Rivertown Affiliate Relations Department at (800) 658-5193 x333.
May 19, 2007
Subprime Crisis Brings More Foreclosures, Layoffs
May 18, 2007
Fed Chairman Warns of More Foreclosures
May 8, 2007
U.S. Foreclosure Rate Doubles in A Year
May 3, 2007
Rivertown Financial Hires New Underwriter
Albany, NY-- Rivertown Financial recently hired Jen Barrett as its newest underwriter. Ms. Barrett will manage all aspects of underwriting and processing at the firm’s corporate headquarters in Albany, NY.
Ms. Barrett has over seven years business experience. At her most recent employer, Freedom One Funding, she served as the Processing Manager. Before that, she worked as an underwriter at MortgageIT in New York City.
April 28, 2007
Region Sees Spike In Home Foreclosures
April 25, 2007
Stop Foreclosure By Refinancing Your Loan: Is It a Good Option?
April 17, 2007
Foreclosure rescue plans pose questions
March 29, 2007
More homeowners turning to Rivertown for help due to crumbling subprime lending market
ALBANY, N.Y. – The collapse of the subprime lending market has led more people who face financial hardship to turn to companies like Rivertown Financial to help them find a way out.
Rivertown works with homeowners who face foreclosure and puts them on track to get out of debt, tap into their home equity, and – most importantly – keep their homes in the end. For Rivertown and companies like it, the tightening of the mortgage market means more people need this kind of program to solve their financial problems.
The subprime lending market’s downturn has meant that homeowners with poor credit who risk losing their homes to foreclosure have fewer avenues to get their affairs in order. Furthermore, because many potential homebuyers are finding it more difficult to find an affordable mortgage, distressed homeowners are finding it more difficult to quickly sell their homes.
The idea sounds contrarian, but for a homeowner who can’t refinance, the only way to access the equity in his or her home is to sell it. Rivertown makes it possible for these homeowners to sell their homes in this tight market without having to move.
“We’re helping more people than ever,” said Geoffrey Goldman, founder and CEO of Rivertown Financial.
“I think foreclosure rates are going to continue to increase,” Goldman said. “There’s going to be further credit tightening in the mortgage market and there will be less money available for subprime borrowers.”
All these factors mean that Rivertown’s program will continue to be in high demand, Goldman said.
Rivertown Financial operates under a business model that prevents its customers from losing their homes. When they enter into Rivertown’s LeaseBack Program, it is because they are on the verge of foreclosure, too far in arrears to reinstate their mortgage and unable to secure a loan due to poor credit history, or the mere fact that they are facing foreclosure to begin with.
Homeowners in these circumstances who sell their homes to Rivertown can use the sale proceeds to pay off their mortgages and other burdensome debts. In addition to clearing up these derogatory credit items, participants reestablish a positive housing payment history by making timely rental payments during the LeaseBack term. The final stage of the program involves the homeowner’s repurchase of the property, after achieving long-term financial stability and creditworthiness sufficient to get a new loan.
Rivertown was founded in 2002 in Nyack, N.Y. In the past two years, Rivertown has expanded from three employees to 15, at its headquarters on Central Avenue in Albany, as well as in other offices in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Rivertown has worked with clients in New York’s capital region, Hudson Valley and the New York Metropolitan area, as well as Northern New Jersey. Rivertown Financial is a member of the Albany Better Business Bureau.
For more information, visit www.rivertownfinancial.com.
March 28, 2007
Over 13,000 Hudson Valley families face foreclosure, says Schumer
Washington, DC -- As the subprime mortgage market goes from boom to bust, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer Wednesday said that foreclosures will soar in upstate New York over the next two years, with more than 50,000 families in upstate New York at risk of losing their homes by the end of 2008. In the Hudson Valley, he said 387,573 houses were mortgaged and 13,825 families are now in danger of losing their homes.
The senator unveiled a plan that he said would ensure that the subprime lending market, which has been able to operate with little oversight from federal regulators – is finally scrutinized on a federal level. He outlined a plan to regulate “these rogue mortgage lenders, eliminate ‘liar’ loans” and establish a foreclosure prevention task force.
Schumer said the impending large number of mortgage foreclosures in upstate New York and across the nation can be directly tied to the exploding popularity of costly non-traditional mortgage products over the past decade. These non-traditional mortgage products, which include hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages with intricate interest rate terms and conditions, have been sold to middle and lower-income families in record numbers. While they offer attractive and easy lending terms, they also include excessively high interest rates that can sharply spike, leaving new homeowners struggling to meet rising mortgage payments.
In an effort to protect homebuyers from usurious lenders and potential foreclosure – Schumer announced his plans for legislation that he said would stem the tide of subprime mortgages.
His three-point plan would establish a national regulatory system for mortgage brokers, eliminate “liar” loans and create a New York State foreclosure prevention task force.
ALBANY, N.Y. – Rivertown Financial founder and CEO Geoffrey Goldman expects that New York’s new homeowner protection law, which goes into effect today, will help draw a distinction between his company, which assists homeowners who are scheduled to lose their homes to foreclosure, and fly-by-night organizations that bilk homeowners of their most valuable asset.
“We embrace this new legislation because it’s going to eliminate the reward for unscrupulous individuals and companies who are approaching these homeowners and unjustly profiting,” said Goldman. “It creates an opportunity for us to further establish ourselves as an industry leader.”
The new legislation, known as the Home Equity Theft Prevention Act, or HETPA, regulates transactions involving homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Among the new requirements:
Written disclosure to homeowners regarding the terms of the sale of their home in foreclosure or default
A five day “cooling-off” period after signing any contract during which a homeowner may cancel without penalty
Civil and criminal penalties for fraudulent acts and misrepresentation
In transactions involving a sale-leaseback, defined as a “reconveyance arrangement,” companies must verify the homeowner’s ability to meet the terms of the agreement
Closings must be conducted by an attorney not affiliated with the purchaser
Because Rivertown has always followed the spirit of the new legislation to prevent predatory real estate deals, only minimal changes were required to bring the company’s practices into technical compliance.
“This law recognizes and sanctions our business process and transaction model as legitimate and bona fide,” said Goldman.
Rivertown Financial operates under a business model that prevents its customers from losing their homes. When they enter into Rivertown’s LeaseBack Program, it is because they are on the verge of foreclosure, months behind in their mortgage payments and unable to secure a loan due to poor credit history and the mere fact that they are facing foreclosure to begin with. Most of Rivertown’s customers were the victims of temporary and circumstantial financial hardships, and although the problem causing their delinquency has been resolved they are simply unable to catch up.
Homeowners in these circumstances sell their homes to Rivertown under an agreement that includes the right to purchase it back. Rivertown helps them access their trapped equity to pay off their mortgage and other debts in full, providing a “clean slate” and an opportunity to start over without losing possession of their most valuable asset. They continue to live in their homes during the LeaseBack term and establish a positive rental payment history. When they purchase their homes back, they are in a more financially stable position than they were before.
Rivertown was founded in 2002 in Nyack, N.Y. In the past two years, the company has expanded from three employees to 15, at its headquarters on Central Avenue in Albany, as well as in other offices in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Rivertown has worked with homeowners in New York’s Capital Region, Hudson Valley and the New York Metropolitan area, as well as Northern New Jersey. Rivertown Financial is a member of the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York.
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