SI foreclosure rate second in the state

U.S. still seeing "aftershocks" of foreclosure earthquake
By Sarabeth Sanders | March 11, 2010 09:42AM

Staten Island saw a 22 percent drop off in foreclosure filings last month compared to a month earlier, according to national real estate foreclosure tracking company RealtyTrac’s monthly foreclosure market report released today (see report below). But its 184 filings — one in every 974 households — represented a 5.75 percent increase over February 2009 and that rate gave it a second-place ranking among all New York counties.

Overall, the city saw 1,401 foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — last month, down 23 percent from January and 5.5 percent from a year ago.

Still, foreclosures in the city’s hardest-hit boroughs — Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn — remain at remarkably high levels, with unemployment showing
few signs of abating and more risky loans still yet to mature.

“It’s too early to call,” whether the declines in foreclosures indicate
that the problem has peaked in the city, said Daren Blomquist, a
spokesperson for RealtyTrac.

Of the city’s 1,401 foreclosure filings, 495 were in Brooklyn, a nearly 29 percent decline over last month, but a 5.77 percent uptick over the same period last year, the report says. In Queens, 486 filings represented a 21 percent month-over-month dip and a 12.6 percent decrease from the year-ago period. Bronx foreclosures were similarly down 19.5 percent in February, to 173 filings, a 7 percent year-over-year decline. Manhattan, which has been barely touched by the country’s home foreclosure crisis, saw only 63 filings in February.

Statewide, foreclosure filings declined by 29 percent in February over the month before and 20 percent over last year.

“New York has definitely fared better than much of the rest of the
country but it is not out of the woods yet, even with the decrease [in
foreclosure filings] in February,” said Daren Blomquist, a spokesperson for RealtyTrac.

Nationwide, February foreclosure activity declined 2 percent month-over-month to 308,524 filings, but that number represented a 6 percent year-over-year increase. It was the 50th consecutive month of year-over-year increases, said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio.

“Foreclosure prevention programs, legislation and other processing delays are in effect capping monthly foreclosure activity — albeit at a historically high level that will likely continue for an extended period,” Saccacio said.

And the foreclosure pipeline is still increasing. Default notices and lis pendens — which mark the first stage of the foreclosure process — rose 3 percent in February from the month earlier, according to the report.

“The big foreclosure earthquake that we felt was really in 2007, 2008, but we’re continuing to see aftershocks of that… waves of foreclosures continuing to hit,” Blomquist said.

The source of those new foreclosure waves has shifted away from subprime mortgages and toward Alt-A loans, many of which are adjustable-rate mortgages taken out as late as 2007 and which are set to recast after five years, he added.

Foreclosure prevention programs can only do so much to help.

“Not everyone facing foreclosure is going to be modified out,” Blomquist said, referring to the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Mortgage Program, which some say has been met with limited success in modifying loans for underwater homeowners.

“No matter what the government does, it’s going to be an artificial, temporary solution,” he said. “It’s going to take the market recovering. Until that happens, you’re not going to have a true end to the foreclosure problem.”
Realty Trac February 2010 National Data FINAL