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Island Federal Credit Union (Island Federal) has announced a new mortgage program to make it more affordable for first-time buyers to purchase a home on Long Island. For those who qualify, Island Federal’s Cut-the-Cost Mortgage Program reduces closing costs up to $5,000.

“Throughout our history, Island Federal has offered innovative programs to make homeownership possible for more Long Islanders. In 2018, we introduced the Dream it. Achieve it. Mortgage to allow up to 100% financing. We also offer the Heroes Mortgage that waives underwriting fees (approximately $600) for those who serve in the military, education, medical, or other service professions. The Cut-the-Cost Mortgage Program is the latest addition to the suite of products that enable first-time buyers to afford a home,” said Bret W. Sears, President/CEO, Island Federal.

“The Cut-the-Cost Mortgage Program is a terrific program for the first-time buyer as Island Federal provides up to $5,000 towards closing costs for those who qualify. While there are other mortgage programs that claim to offer ‘no closing costs,’ purchasers discover that their programs do not cover all fees. With our program, buyers will know what the costs will be, so there will be no surprises at closing,” added Tim Aaraas, Vice President/Retail Lending.

Aaraas continues, “In addition to specialized programs, Island Federal offers no-obligation seminars that review the mortgage process from application to closing. For Spanish-speaking home buyers, Island has mortgage professionals that are bilingual. To make it more convenient to apply, we have an Island-Easy Online Mortgage application that can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. Most of us dream of owning our own home. At Island, we want to make that possible.”

To learn more about Island Federal’s Mortgage options, visit www.islandfcu.com/mortgage.

Real Estate Graph

By Michael Ardolino

Michael Ardolino

According to Long Island housing statistics, the number of listings taken increased nearly 6% since April 2022. Total homes available is also approaching 10%.

As the number of homes on the market increases, it’s important for those thinking of selling to keep their eyes on the real estate market. Fortunately for sellers, things are still in their favor, and forecasters predict it will remain that way this summer and into the fall.

For buyers, this means more to choose from. If you are selling and haven’t purchased your new home yet, you’ll also benefit from inventory starting to inch up.

While other potential sellers may be contemplating the perfect time to put their home up for sale based on their personal plans, if you base your decision on when it’s right in the market, you’ll come out with a better return on your investment.

Heading toward possible stabilization?

A recent article in The Washington Post states, “while mortgage rates and home prices are not expected to drop, they are anticipated to somewhat stabilize.”

Some may wonder if the market stabilizes, how it will remain a seller’s market this summer. According to Shivani Peters, a mortgage advisor and expert, “We have no reason to believe that home prices will stop appreciating … When you own, it’s a gift.” After two record-breaking years, the slight climbs in mortgage rates and home prices aren’t bad news. Prices will still continue to appreciate through the stabilization.

A reminder

Interest rates continue to inch up to slow inflation — we’re seeing nearly 6% for some 30-year fixed rate mortgages — and savvy buyers want to stay ahead of rising interest rates. For example, a person who bought a home in 2019 valued at $370,000, who put 5% down with an interest rate of 2.87%, would have a mortgage payment of $1,457. Someone who bought a home valued the same in 2022 with interest rates at 5.25%, would now pay $1,940. If they wanted the same type of house that sold for $370,000 in 2019, they would now pay around $500,000 for that home, with 5% down and current interest rates, their mortgage payment is $2,623. Timing is everything!

Real estate and financial experts are keeping a careful eye on The Federal Reserve as the central bank announced a .75% percentage point rate hike on June 15. Jerome Powell, chair of The Federal Reserve, said the Feds may announce a similar rate hike again next month. As I discussed in a past article, just because the rates are going up doesn’t mean they are the highest they have been.

Takeaway

As mortgage rates rise, buyers are less likely to purchase a home at the same price they would have six months ago; mortgage rates are predicted to only continue increasing over the next six. While rates will still be historically low, the best time to sell or buy is now. So … let’s talk.

Michael Ardolino is the Founder/Owner-Broker of Realty Connect USA.

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A check is presented to Rebecca Briggs, second from left, the widow of Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, during a July 24 press conference in Hauppauge. Photo from Bellone's office

By Anthony Petriello

A Port Jefferson Station family received some comfort in the form of a fully paid off mortgage following the tragic death of their Air Force husband and father.

The family of Port Jefferson Station Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, 30, who was killed March 15 in a helicopter crash near the Syrian border in western Iraq, had the remaining balance on their mortgage paid off thanks to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation July 24.

Briggs’ wife, Rebecca, and two young children, Jayden and Ava, received a miracle in the form of an undisclosed payment in addition to $33,000 already donated by Caliber Home Loans toward the payoff.

“I just wanted to say thank you to Tunnel to Towers and Caliber Home Loans for doing this mortgage pay off, because it’s very comforting to know there’s people out there helping all the military families, Gold Star families, and it’s just nice to know that we can stay in our home,” the widow said to the media at the press conference.

Briggs’ family also received close to $46,000 as of Aug. 7, raised through a GoFundMe campaign launched by Andre Galarza, a close friend, former roommate and Riverhead High School classmate of Briggs’.

“I looked up to him very much, just because of the type of man he was — one of the realest people you’ll ever meet,” Galarza said in an interview in March. “As a person, he was one of the strongest people I know.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) recognized Briggs for his sacrifice in serving the country during the July 24 press conference in Hauppauge.

“Today we honored the family of a man, a husband, a father, a soldier and a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice to his country,” he said. “Technical Sergeant Briggs served us all and now it is we who must honor his service.”

Tunnel to Towers was established to honor the service and sacrifice of Brooklyn firefighter and Staten Island resident Stephen Siller, who died Sept. 11, 2001. The foundation “also honors our military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country,” according to its website.

All seven airmen on board were carrying out a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, an American-led mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to the  U.S. Department of Defense. All seven military personnel onboard died in the crash of the Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter.

Briggs and three others aboard the aircraft — Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches; Capt. Christopher Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City; and Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, 39, of Commack were members of the 106th Air National Guard Rescue Wing out of Westhampton Beach’s Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base.

England’s vote to leave the European Union last month will impact the world. Stock photo

By Wenhao Ma

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union three weeks ago has caused mortgage rates to decline in United States, and North Shore financial advisors and real estate agents see Brexit’s impending global changes as good and bad.

A North Shore real estate agent said following Brexit, U.S. mortgage rates have greatly decreased

The value of British pound dropped rapidly after England’s vote on Thursday, June 23, and was significantly lower than the U.S. dollar next Monday. With the change of value in currencies, offshore money has started to flood into the United States, which leads to a drop in mortgage interest rates, according to James Retz, associate real estate broker for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Cold Spring Harbor.

“It’s only been a few days since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union,” he said. “[But] several lenders here have posted lower interest rates for long-term fixed rate mortgages.”

Up until Thursday, June 30, the average 30-year fixed rate had fallen under 3.6 percent and the 15-year fixed rate was more than 2.7 percent.

Retz ruled out the possibility of domestic factors causing low rates.

“I am not aware of anything that has happened in the USA to make the rates drop,” he said. “Until Britain’s vote to leave the European Union a few days ago, mortgage rates were static.”

Besides mortgage rates, Brexit hasn’t yet had much impact on Long Island’s economy. But experts do a predict small influence on local tourism.

“There will be a small negative effect on students and tourists visiting Long Island as the dollar has strengthened against the pound,” Panos Mourdoukoutas, professor of economics from Long Island University, said. “But it will benefit Long Islanders visiting the U.K.”

Mark Snyder, owner of Mark J. Snyder Financial Services Inc., shared that opinion.

“Locally, Brexit will likely mean less foreign tourists coming here since it’s forcing a rise in the dollar’s value, but might make for good international travel deals,” he said. Snyder is not certain of Brexit’s long-term impact on international or local economies.

Mourdoukoutas didn’t sound optimistic on the future of Brexit. “In the long term, Brexit could lead to the break up of EU,” he said. “That’s bad news for the global economy, including China.”

Michael Sceiford, financial advisor at Edward Jones’ Port Jefferson office, thinks otherwise.

“The U.K. is about 4 percent of the world economy and it doesn’t leave the EU immediately,” he said. “So we believe the economic impact is likely to be much less than the market reaction suggests.”

Sceiford believes that it may take three or more years before Britain actually departs. According to an article he submitted, this extended time can give financial markets a chance to absorb the new reality and give investors time to ponder their long-term strategy.

“The Brexit may not be a positive development for the global economy, but we’ve gotten past bigger events in the past, including wars and other political crises,” the financial advisor said. “As the British themselves famously posted on their walls during World War II, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’”