When Mercedes Sandoz fell behind on mortgage payments, a lawyer she didn’t know called her personal phone offering to help — by buying her East New York home for cash.
The mother of five also got daily fliers and knocks on her door from lawyers and investors. That’s because she was on a public list as being at risk of foreclosure.
“I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 33 years, and in the last few years, I’ve felt like it’s a takeover,” said Sandoz, who bought her home in 2000 after years of renting in the area.
Now, she’s joined an effort to protect homeowners from harassment from real estate speculators by designating the neighborhood as Brooklyn’s only “cease-and-desist” zone — an area declared off-limits under state law.
Cease-and-desist protections would allow homeowners to opt into a list restricting would-be house flippers from contacting them — and hit violators with fines, criminal charges or loss of real estate licenses.
Local residents say the designation is badly needed in East New York: A 2018 Center for New York City Neighborhoods report that found investors were flipping more homes at higher rates and for higher profit margins in East New York than anywhere else in Brooklyn.
After a push by residents working with the Coalition for Community Advancement and state Sen. Julia Salazar’s office, the New York Department of State scheduled a public hearing on the cease-and-desist bid for March 5 at 5 p.m. at 127 Pennsylvania Ave.
The hearing marks a key step toward whether state officials find the “evidence of intense and repeated solicitations” needed to declare a cease-and-desist zone.
The Department of State gained the authority to grant neighborhoods cease-and-desist protections in 1989, but currently has only three designated zones in the city — all in suburban-style, largely white and Asian middle-class areas.
Two cover a swath of northeast Queens, including College Point, Whitestone, Bay Terrace and surrounding areas. The third covers the Country Club neighborhood in The Bronx.
Alexa Sloan with the Coalition for Community Advancement, a band of residents, businesses and houses of worship advocating for East New York and Cypress Hills, said locals have been collecting evidence of solicitation for more than two years. They’ve amassed 540 surveys detailing their experiences.
One of the residents who has been organizing for cease-and-desist protections, Linda Ford, installed a camera outside her house because of frequent visits from would-be buyers offering cash.
“I keep the door locked, and I don’t answer,” said Ford, who inherited her home from her mother and has lived there for more than 50 years. “Sometimes the notes they leave are handwritten, like they’re from a friend.”
After offering sums of cash for far less than properties are worth, many of those investors quickly resell the houses for far higher sums. Rampant flipping can put real estate prices out of reach for local buyers while bumping up existing homeowners’ tax bills.
Take the Money and run !
^Anon¹: inevitably, more and more it seems like I will. If some crazy person wants to give me north of a mil-and-half for the house I paid 460 for, why not? The less affordable the City and outer boroughs become, they less I want to be here. Nearly got into a fight w/ the missus the other day - I was tearing up a note sight-unseen that I knew was one of those "fake friend" letters, that looks handwritten but is really a local realtor gunning for your place to sell. She couldn't understand why I wouldn't open it first.
Then they wonder why they have such a "housing crisis" in this city.
TommyR said... Not having a mortgage is a wonderful feeling !
I'm looking to cash out of my small Bayside Co-Op for a small home in the P.A.countryside.
When l was a kid East N.Y. was the scariest place in the 5 borough's
Chinese mafia behind but nobody looks in that direction for some reasons..
Who is the greediest in the city?
Honestly would be a great time to get out. I think the last 20 years of New York were just plain bad. Neighborhoods in the traditional sense do not exist. No one in my area even says hello to each other. The most interaction I got was from a Middle Eastern immigrant to gave me the middle finger for allegedly crossing the street too slow. The person in the article must be an illegal immigrant so hence why she remains here. This is a great place for low skilled people to mooch the system.
Its so bad that I honestly thought the place where my cousin lives in Essex County NJ is nicer. And NJ is almost as crappy as NYC. But hey he has a lot more space than me and his neighbors actually speak English, not the best English mind you, but he can understand them.
‘They don’t invest in our neighborhoods’
Ever wonder why shithead Bloomberg bolted from this ravaged city of endless corruption, graft and monstrous greed? It's because that virus (Bloomberg, not Corona) murdered New York and then he bolted to another country.
Now, the neo-liberal scumbags (the SAME ones who are ironically complaining about ZERO quality of life) are livid that their city now smells worse than the Newtown Creek Waste Treatment Center, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
In case you haven't gotten the memo, New York City and New York State were completely destroyed and obliterated by the 1%, and I hope that THEY feel the wrath that they SO ORDERED for everyone else, onto their exclusionary neighborhoods that are now surrounded and entrenched with murder, theft, lawlessness, total government tyranny and openly practiced anarchy - COMPLIMENTS of two intensely incompetent government gangsters, Bill de BLASS-hole AND Andrew 'CUOMIGULA,' both of whom deserve hard time, federal lockup sentences for LIFE! The DemonRat baboons that totally destroyed New York State are an embarrassment to primates!
They want it have them pay 3 million to buy, they have the cash. Bleed these investors dry.
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