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Library Hosts ‘Save Your Home’ Seminar May 11

Westbury and Carle Place residents received some valuable information at the “Save Your Home” seminar held May 11 at the Westbury Memorial Public Library. The seminar was led by a four-member panel comprised of experts in home sales, banking, real estate law and mortgage counseling. 

Featured speakers included Ray Nieves, a real estate agent with Century 21 American Homes in Westbury; Oswaldo Pinilla, a certified loan officer with Bank of America; Carol Yopp, program manager with the Long Island Housing Partnership; and Richard Klein, an attorney with the Diamond Law Group.

The idea to provide the seminar as a community service was that of Nieves’ in an effort to educate current homeowners, as well as those who might be looking to buy and/or sell and those who are falling behind on their mortgages. 

“The real estate market of today is much different than the real estate market of five or six years ago. Gone are the days when anyone would qualify for a mortgage,” said Nieves, adding, “Now, the process to obtain a home mortgage is much more stringent and difficult.”

Nieves reviewed the real estate market within the Westbury School District over the past three years based on Multiple Listing Service and explained how in 2010 sales increased due to tax credit incentives offered by the government to both sellers and buyers. He also described the differences between conventional sales, short sales and foreclosures. 

According to Nieves, this is a “true buyers’ market” for several reasons. “Interest rates are at all-time lows, prices are dropping and there is a large inventory of homes for sale,” he said. “Also, because there are so many homes available, most homeowners serious about selling are willing to make a deal.”

For those struggling to make monthly mortgage payments, Oswaldo Pinilla said the banks, despite what people may believe, are here to help. “It is not in our interest for people to lose their homes,” he said. 

Since each person’s situation is different, Pinilla encouraged homeowners who may have been late on payments to contact their lender to see if they are eligible for modification. Pinilla also discussed the Making Homes Affordable program, which helps homeowners who may be struggling to make their monthly payments by lowering the interest on the loan. He encouraged homeowners who haven’t missed a mortgage payment in the past 12 months to reach out to their lender to see if they are eligible. 

Those struggling can also turn to the non-profit, HUB-approved Long Island Housing Partnership (LIHP) for help. Carol Yopp encouraged patrons to take advantage of the many free programs and services Long Island Housing Partnership LIHP) offers, including mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention from trained counselors. 

Additionally, attorney Richard Klein advised patrons who may be in trouble to work with the banks in an effort to avoid foreclosure. “The whole purpose of a short sale is to avoid foreclosure. Foreclosure should be avoided at all costs,” said Klein, who added that those looking to purchase a short sale home should go in with their best and final offer. “The bank is not going to sell the property for less than fair market value,” he said. “So what you offer depends on what you love more – the home or your money.”

Patrons had the opportunity to ask the panelists questions and information was distributed to those seeking additional support. Overall, residents said the seminar was extremely informative. “The whole real estate and mortgage process is so confusing, and changing all the time,” said one patron. “The seminar provided some insight into where we should turn next and what steps we need to take.”

Another patron agreed, saying. “Now I know what I need to do next.”

For more information about programs and events offered at the Westbury Memorial Public Library, call 333-0176 or visit www.westburylibrary.org.