Real Estate: In search of (Fore)closure.

I have never been a person enamored with the idea of being tied down. It is a behavioral trait that, more than anything else, is responsible for my current dilemma: Damn near forty years old and still renting. Why? To put it simply, I have never had the urge to nest. Not that I am a traveler. Far from it, in fact I have lived on Long Island my entire life aside from a brief stint in scenic South Orange, NJ during my college days.

But now that I am rapidly approaching my fortieth birthday, the idea of a having a home, my own home, has taken on a new appeal. This is due in no small part to recently being deemed eligible to participate in the Federal Community Stabilization Program (CSP) Help Phase II, which is intended to stem the negative effect of the rising tide of foreclosures throughout the country, via the Long Island Housing Partnership. The fund, which is based on a first come first serve basis, allows those eligible access to as much as $50,000 for a down payment on a foreclosed home.

And given the state of Long Island’s housing market, it appears this is as good a time as any to utilize such a tool as the number of foreclosures remains a factor in terms of the economy’s ability to recover. On Long Island, the number of foreclosures in 2009 was 29 percent higher than they were in 2008, and with the economy continuing to flounder that trend is not expected to ebb any time soon. Unfortunately, those numbers exceeded the national trend, where in 2009 foreclosures were up 21 percent over 2008 and a staggering 120 percent over the numbers reported in 2007. It is obvious that this housing phenomenon is not helping right the ship towards recovery, but does show the depths to which the housing market was affected by the frivolous actions of the past.

What the CSP will allow me—and the others who have qualified for the program—to do is attempt to take advantage of a true buyers’ market. One of the largest hurdles to home buying on Long Island, especially with the burst of the housing bubble, is having the capital needed for a down payment. If able to locate a qualified home, the CSP can remove that entry barrier. There is a claw back provision with the program, with the grant being forgiven after 20 years.

Since being deemed eligible, I have fervently been looking for a qualified, i.e. foreclosed, home. Needless to say, it has been an adventure. Please note when an ad states “as is” it means “as is!” In the several homes I have walked through, none have been anywhere near habitable. In fact, most lack basic infrastructure (furnaces, plumbing and/or appliances of any kind). Obviously these absences are typically reflected in the asking price, but it is also obvious that replacement of these items has to be factored into any offer to buy.

And simply finding a foreclosed home can be a task and the process can leave you feeling like a vulture waiting on the wing, but I try to think of it as my contribution to jumpstarting the economy. As to how you will deal with the idea of settling down, you are on your own with that one.

conor bly

Conor Bly has been writing about Long Island for the past 14 years covering, well, pretty much everything, from automobiles to zoning regulations. When not writing, much of his time is occupied by looking for that elusive perfect house.