A new mortgage company in Tarrytown is finding that low interest rates are good for business.
Mortgage Master Inc., an independently owned mortgage company, said that it is processing about $30 million a month in mortgage transactions in the Tri-State area, many of them involving refinancings or purchases by first-time homebuers in Westchester County. The company recently opened its first Westcheser office at 520 White Plains Road in Tarrytown.
Firms such as Mortgage Master are benefiting from the repeated interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve to help rescue a troubled American economy and slumping housing market.
“First-time home buyers represent about 40 percent of our business, and we’re finding that many consumers are simply tired of sitting on the fence and waiting to see if we’ve reached the bottom of the market,” said Donna Attili, mortgage master branch manager for the Tarrytown office. “The normal apprehension of those purchasing their first home is being replaced by a sense urgency to take advantage of historic low interest rates before they increase.”
Mortgage Master, based in Walpole, Mass., offers mortgages and services in 22 states and employees more than 325 workers nationally. The company said that surging mortage refinancing activity is projected to help increase its its lending volume from $2.6 billion in 2008 to $5.2 billion this year.
Trends in sales of existing homes clearly favored buyers in March as median prices declined across the Lower Hudson Valley.
Year-over-year price declines were most severe in Westchester and Putnam counties, while Rockland prices turned negative again after producing year-over-year gains in February. Sales were also down in all three counties, according to numbers released yesterday by the New York State Association of Realtors.
Westchester’s median sales price tumbled to $508,900, down 17.1 percent from $613,750 in March 2008. Sales fell 30.7 percent. Though the year-over-year comparisons are weak, the sales decline was an improvement over February’s year-over-year decline of 41.8 percent.
Putnam’s median also plunged, down 20.2 percent to $318,000 as sales dropped 18.2 percent.
Rockland’s median fell the least, down 5.5 percent to $437,000 in March, an improvement over a year-over-year price decline of 13.2 percent in February. The county’s sales were down 13.9 percent, more than reversing a 7.3 percent gain in sales a month earlier.
Across New York, sales of existing homes were up in 11 of 59 counties reporting results. Median sales prices rose year-over-year in 23 counties.
The state’s median sales price of $225,000 was up 10 percent from March 2008, though sales were down 25.3 percent. The statewide numbers include partial data from three counties in the state.
Complete data is unavailable for — Bronx, Hamilton and New York — in the Realtors’ survey.
The Web site for the Neighborhood Law Center in Peekskill has added a video on strategies for dealing with and preventing foreclosure. Attorney Mel Burruss hosts the discussion with real estate lawyer Jacqueline J. Warner of Hinman, Howard, & Kattell, and Larry Thorpe, vice president of operations of Mortgageopt Corp. The Web page is at www.neighborhoodlawcenter.com.
A program to help young professionals invest and plan for the goal of buying a home will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at Hudson Valley Bank, 21 Scarsdale Road in Yonkers.
“Investing and Financial Planning for Young Business Professionals” is the third program in the Home Buyers Workshop Series. It’s sponsored by the Young Professionals Advisory Committee of the Westchester County Association.
Featured speakers are Gerry O’Donoghue of O’Donoghue Financial Planning, and Rodd Berro, president of Pegasus Asset Management Inc.
Reservations are required. Contact Julia Salem at email@example.com or call 914-948-6740.
Peter Spino Jr., an attorney and mortgage broker, will provide free tips on how to get a mortgage loan modification successfully approved and avoid foreclosure in a presentation on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Ossining Public Library. Worksheets will be provided to homeowners as part of the presentation that is called “The Do’s and Don’ts of Loan Modification Applications.” Spino owns a mortgage brokerage firm, Blue Planet Mortgage LLP, in Irvington.
Luxury apartments at The Summit at City Center in White Plains, a new complex developed by Louis Cappelli, are now available. The complex at 6 City Place next to Trump Tower and the New York Sports Club includes 24 apartments. There are 10 studios, seven one-bedroom units and seven two-bedroom units. Monthly rents, including utilities, range from $1,422 to $2,286.
The New York State Banking Department has launched a public service advertisement that encourages consumers to seek help if they are threatened with foreclosure because of late mortgage payments.
The department has provided the ad to television and radio stations statewide. The public service announcement will also be broadcast three times every hour in New York City’s Times Square on the CBS Super Screen through the New Year’s Eve celebration on Jan. 1.
The campaign “is the latest in a series of initiatives we have undertaken to encourage homeowners to take action quickly to avoid losing their homes,” Superintendent of Banks Richard H. Neiman said in a written statement. “The increasing number of foreclosures throughout the nation is having a devastating impact on families and communities, which can be stemmed by more aggressive loan modification programs.”
There were 2,431 foreclosure filings and foreclosure judgments in Westchester County during the past year, an increased of 58.7 percent over 2007, according to county government statistics.
Statewide, foreclosure filings increased 19 percent during the third quarter compared to a year earlier, the banking department said.
The public service announcement urges homeowners that have fallen behind on their mortgages to seek help from their lenders, loan servicers and not-for-profit housing counselors. The ad also will refer consumers to a list of of resources available on the department Web site, www.banking.state.ny.us, including housing counselors and and information about the legal rights of homeowners.
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano recently sent letters to 23 area banks asking them to voluntarily implement a 90-day freeze on future foreclosures as the housing slowdown worsens in the region.
Spano took the action with statistics showing that there were 2,431 foreclosure filings and judgments in Westchester during the last year, an increased of 58.7 percent over a year earlier.
In the letters, Spano said that the national housing crisis, the downturn on Wall Street and a troubled economy is hurting area families.
“I strongly urge your bank to take immediate action to help homeowners stay in their homes in Westchester County,” Spano said in his letter. “…Rising mortgage defaults only exacerbate the credit crisis and are in no one’s best interests, including the banking system.”
Spano said that sevearl banks on the national level, inlcuding Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup, have announced programs to try to help modify problem mortgages. Each of those three banks has branches in the region.
Spano called for banks “to the fullest extent possible, negotiate agreements that will keep people in their homes.”
The state also has tried to slow the pace of foreclosures. In August, New York Gov. David Paterson signed legislation aimed at heading off new foreclosures against subprime borrowers whose credit is less than perfect. Among other things, it required lenders to notify borrowers at least 90 days before starting a proceeding, so both sides have time to work out problems before the need for legal action.
Gary Brown, county director of consumer protection, said that the state law had its limitations because it only addressed high-cost loans and not the conventional loans that also are having problems.
As the housing market weakens and mortgage foreclosures rise in the Lower Hudson Valley, increasing numbers of con artists are targeting vulnerable homeowners.
In Rockland County, officials are trying to fight the worsening mortgage fraud problem by forming the Real Estate Fraud Investigation Task Force. The task force, a joint effort of Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, County Clerk Paul Piperato and County Sheriff James Kralik, will investigate and prosecute fraud cases involving recorded real estate documents. The task force will emphasize those instances in which the victim’s home is at risk of foreclosure.
“We must be proactive about protecting the people of Rockland County against mortgage and deed fraud,” Zugibe said. “Our team effort will strive to reassure all residents that we will catch and prosecute any and all criminals taking advantage of people at risk of losing their homes.”
Scams can involve con artists forging a home owner’s signature on deeds, transferring property ownership to themselves or mortgaging homes without the consent of the real owners.
Sometimes, the rightful owner is dead — or an occupant of a nursing home.
“Any person accused of swindling homeowners and lenders through fake deeds is a crook of the worst kind,” Kralik said. “This type of white collar crime is complex and profitable, but the criminals involved are no different from those who hold up banks or burglarize homes.”
Prudential Rand Realty is sponsoring a workshop on Nov. 25 for homeowners who are facing foreclosure or are at risk of foreclosure. The free event will take place from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Comfort Inn in Nanuet.
Officials from government agencies and housing groups will discuss options available to those at risk of default. U.S. Reps. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, and Elliot Engel, D-Bronx, are among the elected officials who are expected to attend.
“With all the information swirling around out there on foreclosures and foreclosure prevention, where does a homeowner in this situation turn? Whom can they trust?” said Greg Rand, managing partner with Prudential Rand Realty. “We are creating a safe, sanctioned atmosphere where they can find answers to those questions. We hope to put a compassionate face on a daunting process, and help homeowners take action.”
Westchester Residential Opportunities Inc. and Legal Services of the Hudson Valley have recieved a $545,000 grant to help homeowners struggling in a weak housing market.
The groups said they will use the grant to provide area homeowners with counseling and legal services as they seek to avoid foreclosure. The grant money originated from the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corp.
â€œThis new funding will have enormous impact on Westchester homeowners who are facing the loss of their homes….Since this grant will allow us to hire additional counselors, we can help many more struggling homeowners,â€ said Geoffrey Anderson, executive director of Westchester Residential Opportunities.
Westchester Residential Opportunities, with offices in White Plains and Mount Vernon, is one of the largest housing counseling agencies in the lower Hudson Valley region. Legal Services of the Hudson Valley is a provider of free civil legal services to low-income residents in the region. It operates Westchester offices in White Plains, Yonkers and Mount Vernon.
The Westchester County Associationâ€™s Young Professional Advisory Committee continues its Home Buyers Series with a panel discussion by local Realtors and attorneys from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 1133 Westchester Ave. in White Plains. A cocktail reception will follow the talk.
The program will be moderated by William R. Zeltner, an attorney with Bertine, Hufnagel, Headley, Zeltner, Drummond & Dohn of White Plains. The panelists include Gary Herbst, president of Buyers Edge Realty in Tarrytown; Jessica Rohm, senior managing director, Cappelli Enterprises Inc. in White Plains; Scott Richardson, associate broker, Keller Williams Realty in White Plains; and Sally Fitzsimmons, an attorney with Bleakley Platt & Schmidt in White Plains.
Admission is $25 for WCA members and $30 for non-members. Contact Julia Salem at (914) 948-6740 for more details.
A 36-acre site in the town of Cortlandt opposite Cortlandt Town Center has been sold to a developer who plans to turn the parcel into a mixed-use complex of residences and retail stores.
Westrock Development LLC, based in Yonkers, plans to devote 10 of the acres to retail, creating Cortlandt Crossings, an 85,000-square-foot shopping center with 445 parking spaces and an additional 5,000-square-foot bank site, according to NAI Friedland Realty Inc., the Yonkers-based firm that brokered the sale.
Friedland will also act as leasing agent for the retail spaces. The shopping center, construction for which is expected to start in November 2009 with a planned opening date a year later, will join a mass of other retailers along the section of the Route 6 corridor, including Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Barnes & Noble.
(This posting corrects a previous post that contained incorrect information.)
Median prices and sales of existing homes were mostly down again in July from a year earlier across New York state, but the rate of decline was improved over June.
In the Lower Hudson Valley, the median sales price was unchanged at $730,000 in Westchester County despite an 18 percent decline in sales over July 2007, according the New York State Association of Realtors. Last month, the Realtors reported Westchesterâ€™s median at $675,000, down 12.2 percent from June 2007.
Rockland Countyâ€™s median fell 7.4 percent to $480,000 as sales dropped 27.4 percent.
Putnam Countyâ€™s median was down 10.5 percent to $394,000 as sales tumbled 22.4 percent.
Across New York, the median sales price of $229,000 was down 7.3 percent from July 2007. Sales of 8,262 units were down 14.5 percent.
Sales were down in 47 counties and up in 10 among the counties reporting.
Four counties â€” Bronx, Franklin, Hamilton and New York â€” do not participate in the Realtorsâ€™ survey. July 2008 figures were also unavailable from Greene County.
The latest monthâ€™s results are reported as preliminary, though the Realtors rarely note revisions in subsequent months.
Westchester County will hold its third forum for people having mortgage troubles, or people thinking of buying a house, on Thursday from 7-8:30 p.m. at the council chambers at Mount Vernon City Hall at 1 S. Roosevelt Square.
A panel of experts will talk about how to prevent foreclosure, and what resources are available. County Planning Department staff also will discuss a program that provides funds to remove lead-based paint from older homes and apartments.
The program is sponsored by the Westchester County Office of African American Affairs, the African American Advisory Board, the Westchester County Planning Department and Westchester Residential Opportunities. Call (914) 428-4507 or (914) 995-2934 for more information.
Median prices of existing homes declined by double-digits in June as sales plunged across the Lower Hudson Valley from a year earlier.
The regional downturn in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties was worse than the decline in New York state overall.
The median sales price statewide was down 10.6 percent to $219,000 from $245,000 in June 2007.
Locally, the median dropped the most in Putnam, where it was down 18.2 percent to $347,500 as sales fell 28.6 percent.
Westchester’s median was lower by 12.2 percent to $675,000 in June as sales plunged 30.7 percent. Despite the decline, Westchester still had the highest median sales price among 58 counties reporting results to the New York State Association of Realtors.
Rockland’s median fell 13.6 percent to $445,000 as sales were off by 28.8 percent the pace from a year earlier.
Sales were down in 49 counties and up in 8 and unchanged in one among the counties reporting.
Four counties â€” Bronx, Franklin, Hamilton and New York â€” do not participate in the Realtorsâ€™ survey. June 2008 figures were also unavailable from Greene County.
The June 2008 results are reported as preliminary, though the Realtors rarely note revisions in subsequent months.
Westchester County has signed a $150,000 contract with Westchester Residential Opportunities Inc., a nonprofit agency certified by the federal government, to reduce the number of evictions in the county caused by the nationâ€™s ongoing mortgage crisis.
The money was derived from a special fund the county set up to deal with emergencies, said County Legislator Peter Harckham, D-Katonah.
The agreement provides for the housing-support agency to use the funding to increase staffing to accommodate the growing number of requests for mortgage default and foreclosure counseling on its toll-free hotline, 877-976-4968, and the hotline’s continued operation.
The contract also calls for WRO officials to meet with top lenders and community stakeholders to discuss early intervention for potential defaulters, the county said.
WRO has offices at 470 Mamaroneck Ave. in White Plains and by appointment at the Mount Vernon Armory, 144 N. 5th Ave.
Its Web site is www.wroinc.org.
A state judge has continued a stay against an auction of leases of parking spaces at a Yonkers co-op while a lawsuit brought by resident shareholders continues, their attorney said.
Buckingham Tower at 615 Warburton Ave. had planned to raise money by selling leases for the spaces by auction on July 14. Last week New York state Supreme Court Justice Alan Scheinkman in White Plains allowed a court order holding up the auction to remain in effect during the course of the lawsuit, shareholdersâ€™ attorney Robert Eber said.
Shareholders also are seeking access to Buckinghamâ€™s financial records. Buckingham attorney Carl Finger could not be reached for comment. No date for a new hearing has been set, Eber said.
The Young Professionals Advisory Committee of the Westchester County Association will hold the second workshop in its series on buying a home on Tuesday, June 10 from 6-8 p.m. at Reid Castle at Manhattanville College in Purchase.
The program is called â€œThe ABCs of Real Estate Agencies.â€ Participants include Gary Herbst of Buyers Edge Realty, Laurie Hathorn of Keller Williams Realty, and a real estate attorney with Bleakley Platt & Schmidt. The panel discussion will be followed by a networking reception.
Advance admission is $25 per member and $35 per non-member, and $30 and $40 respectively at the door. Register online at www.westchester.org, or call Julia Salem at 914-948-6740.
Despite a lousy real estate market, Ginsburg Development Co. of Valhalla sold 45 homes in 35 days as part of its 45th anniversary celebration. The company said it extended the program for another 45 days to meet demand from buyers. The company has been offering buyers a number of incentives. One buyer who signs a contract for a home this year will get a grand prize of $335,000 to put toward the purchase of a home. There will also be two smaller prizes.