Suffolk County has the highest number of homes in danger of foreclosure, according to a mid-year report from the firm RealtyTrac.
Foreclosure related filings were sent to 4,567 homes in Suffolk County, which translates roughly to one out of every 119 households. Nassau fared slightly better with 2,758 total filings or one out of every 166 households.
“It’s terrible," Carol Polistena of Babylon told NBCNewYork. “I was born and raised here, my children were raised here also and now my grandchildren are being raised here.”
Six years ago Polistena inherited the home and its mortgage from her parents. The single mother who is now on disability fell behind on her monthly payments and has been in foreclosure since last year.
She’s been trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to negotiate a lower monthly payment. But because she is in foreclosure, the bank has not accepted any of her payments.
“I can’t pay the full amount, I could make payments instead of letting it go on and on and on,” she said.
Instead, Polistena and her pro-bono attorney, Leif Rubinstein of Touro Law School’s Foreclosure Clinic, have attended several foreclosure court hearings. They have responded to several requests for paperwork, but nothing has been settled yet.
“I hate being in limbo, not knowing if I’m going to lose my house," she said.
Rubinstein believes Suffolk has fared worse than Nassau because many first-time buyers who may not have been so qualified for mortgages in the first place, chose to purchase homes in Suffolk, where the home prices are generally lower.
But when the recession hit and people started losing their jobs, the problems began.
“The houses were overpriced and people were getting mortgages way in excess of what the value now is of the house,” said Rubinstein. “So you have many, many houses that are now called underwater.”
While the foreclosure process can be painfully slow, Rubinstein said he believes the banks are beginning to see the wisdom in cooperating with homeowners rather than just pursuing foreclosure.
“It just does not do anybody any good,” said Rubinstein. “They don’t want empty, vandalized homes. The homeowners don’t want to be on the streets. I think they are beginning to agree to sit down with distressed owners to work out settlements.”