Couple Receives a Million Dollar Award Against Bank of America

foreclosure defense on Long IslandNelson and Joyce Coniglio had received more than 700 collection calls during a 4 year period when they fell behind on their mortgage payments. The Coniglios hired an attorney to try to make Bank of America stop calling them. Unfortunately, this didn’t work. A Federal Judge sitting in Florida recently awarded the Coniglios $1 million dollars related to the “unrelenting phone calls from Bank of America.”

Bank of America had an excuse for the phone calls. Their Senior Vice President, Dan Frahm, said the calls weren’t to collect a debt, but solely to help the couple avoid a foreclosure lawsuit.

Lawsuit Against Bank of America

The Coniglios were forced to file a lawsuit in Federal Court to stop the harassing phone calls from Bank of America. They received a default judgment when Bank of America failed to respond to their lawsuit in a timely manner. The lawsuit stemmed from Bank of America making hundreds of robo-calls to the Coniglios. Sometimes they received as many as 5 phone calls a day. Jason Coniglio, the parties’ son, stated “we would be out to dinner and they would ring my mother’s cell phone, then they would ring my dad’s cell phone and then when we got back to the house, there would be another message on the answering machine.” Their son, Jason, works as a mortgage broker. He diligently tried to help his parents get a mortgage modification. Unfortunately, he could never get anyone from Bank of America to cooperate with him. Their lawsuit was pursuant to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The damages were $500 per call and they were tripled. The Coniglios’ attorney stated “the borrowers, the people who own those phones, you do have a right to privacy. And when they say to stop, you have to stop.”

Bank of America had asked the court to reconsider this large award against them. However, the judge denied their request.


When banks misbehave, they can be punished by taking legal action against them.

foreclosure defense lawyer in New YorkElliot Schlissel is a foreclosure defense lawyer. He represents families throughout the Metropolitan New York area who have problems dealing with banks related to mortgage modifications and foreclosure lawsuits.

Coming Soon: 3% Mortgage Down Payments

foreclosure defense for homeownersThe federal government has come up with a new plan to encourage individuals without significant funds to be able to buy homes. Under this new plan, prospective homeowners will be able to obtain mortgages with down payments as low as only 3% of the purchase price. There is a debate as to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. These new 3% down payment mortgages are coming less than a decade after the tremendous housing collapse America recently experienced.

First Time Home Buyers

The purpose of the program is to help lure first time home buyers back into the housing market. Is a 3% down payment loan risky? If the individuals putting the 3% down and buying a home have set aside an emergency fund in the event they lose their job or become ill, it may be a good idea. However, this writer’s experience with individuals taking these type of loans is they do not have emergency funds. The 3% is usually all they have. Without an emergency fund, should the roof leak, the boiler go bad, or one of the family members lose their job, they will be unable to make the mortgage payments and the house will go into foreclosure.

A 20% Down Payment

Most conventional mortgages require a 20% down payment today. I also have problems with this level of down payment. Most young people coming into the housing market do not have the 20% down payment. A more reasonable down payment on a conventional mortgage would be 10%. Unfortunately, pursuant to a 2012 Center for Responsible Lending Study, it found even a 10% down payment would require the individuals purchasing a home with a 2010 median value of $158,000, would take 21 years for the average family to save this amount.

The American Dream

Owning a single family home is the American dream. An equilibrium must be found which will motivate and help young people to purchase homes while not putting them into a situation where they are overextended. Owning a home is one of the bed rocks young married couples have. This is the American dream and that dream must not be kept out of reach for young couples!

foreclosure defense lawyer in New YorkElliot Schlissel is a foreclosure attorney. He represents clients who unfortunately fall behind on their mortgages and face the possibility of losing their homes in foreclosure.

Zombie Homes

mortgage modification attorneyA “zombie home” is a home which is no longer under the control of the owners, but the foreclosure case is still pending and therefore the bank does not have legal title or possession of the home.

Foreclosed Abandoned Homes

There are communities which have numerous foreclosed homes within them. Sometimes the homeowners abandon these homes. This has a negative effect on the tax base. The other homes in the area have their taxes go up as a result of this action. The abandoned homes fall into disrepair causing the homes surrounding them to lose value. When people drive through an area with abandoned homes, it creates a blight on the neighborhood. Zombie homes are a problem in many neighborhoods throughout the United States. It is estimated that as many as 20% of the homes in foreclosure are vacant.

Proposed New York Program

In States such as New York, where the foreclosure process is long, the issue of zombie homes becomes a larger problem. Attorney General Schneiderman in the State of New York is currently backing an idea of letting communities create land banks for the purpose of buying, refurbishing, and reselling abandoned homes. Attorney General Schneiderman has proposed legislation which would force lenders to maintain a property which has been abandoned after the start of the foreclosure lawsuit.

Maintenance Problems of Abandoned Homes

Homes that are abandoned often have significant maintenance problems. Pipes burst. The wood rots. The lawns sprout weeds. These homes create eyesores and create a blighted effect on the neighborhood.

Syracuse Land Bank Program

Katelyn Wright, the Executive Director of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank, recently stated “studies have shown that they [abandoned homes] have a dramatic negative impact on the property values for the homes in the surrounding vicinity, but also less dramatic but still notable for homes in a several block radius.” Katelyn Wright, as Director of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank, has been involved in dealing with abandoned homes in the Syracuse area. Syracuse experiences as many as 50 new abandoned homes each month. The Land Bank buys many of these homes for a very modest price using State, City and County funding. The homes are then either rehabilitated and put back on the market or, if they are not able to be rehabilitated, they are demolished. This is an example of how one community is dealing with zombie homes.

foreclosure defense lawyer in New YorkElliot Schlissel is a foreclosure attorney who represents homeowners whose homes have been foreclosed on. He helps keep his clients in their homes and advises his clients not to abandon their homes.

Fannie Mae Easing Mortgage Rules

mortgage modification attorneysFannie Mae is the largest mortgage government entity in the United States. In an attempt to bring more people into the housing market, it is in the process of taking action to expand the availability of mortgages with low down payment requirements. The new program by Fannie Mae will require mortgage insurance from private organizations on top of the down payment made by the purchaser.

Fannie Mae is a government backed entity which guarantees mortgages. It is regulated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Since the onset of the financial crisis in the year 2008, more than 3/4 of all mortgages in the United States have had some type of government backed guarantee behind it. Fannie Mae’s current requirements only allow borrowers to borrow up to 80% of the purchase price of the home. Under the new proposed program, Fannie Mae will back programs with down payments as low as 3% of the value of the home. However, all of these loans will require private mortgage insurance with regard to the portion of the 20% of the cost of the home that is not made as a down payment. The purpose of this new program is to bring more borrowers who have not accumulated significant amounts of savings back into the housing market.

Raising The Risk of Future Foreclosure

Studies have shown prospective home purchasers who make down payments of less than 20% have significantly higher default rates. When these homeowners default, their homes go into foreclosure. Low down payment loans were part of the problem which caused the huge mortgage crisis in 2008, which is still playing out today.


Helping prospective homeowners come into the housing market with smaller down payments gives more and more Americans access to the American dream, the ownership of a single family home. However, this program must be careful not to create a new mortgage bubble which may cause a deluge of foreclosures in the future.

foreclosure advocate for homeownersElliot Schlissel is a foreclosure lawyer. He fights foreclosure lawsuits and helps keep homeowners in their homes.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages vs. Fixed Rate Mortgages: Which One is Better For You?

mortgage modification attorneysHome ownership is still the American dream. Today, obtaining a mortgage to purchase a home has gotten to be a lot more difficult. Questions arise as to which type of mortgage is the better route for a prospective homeowner to take. The adjustable rate mortgage or the fixed rate mortgage?

Adjustable rate mortgages are riskier than fixed rate mortgages. An adjustable rate mortgage allows you to go into the mortgage with a lower interest rate for a period of time. The risk is that the interest rate, over time, will go up and become unaffordable. The most common type of adjustable rate mortgage has a fixed interest rate for the first 5 years. However, every year after the first five years, the rate changes on an annual basis. The interest rate is governed by the Federal Reserve Boards “Consumer Handbook on Adjustable Rate Mortgages.” When obtaining an adjustable rate mortgage, the prospective homeowner takes the risk as to whether interest rates will increase over time. If this happens, the monthly mortgage payments may increase to a level that the homeowner will become unable to make the monthly mortgage payments.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages Start With Lower Payments

The adjustable rate mortgage gives the homeowner a lower interest rate in the beginning which allows the homeowner to have additional funds to pay off debt and to accumulate some savings as a cushion. There are caps which are utilized by financial institutions regarding adjustable rate mortgages. These caps usually allow the mortgage to go up no more than 2% per year and 5% over the entire period of the loan.

When Do Adjustable Rate Mortgages Make Sense?

An adjustable rate mortgage makes sense if you are planning on holding your home only for a short period of time. If you are planning on holding your home 5 years or less, the adjustable rate mortgage would be a better deal. If you plan on holding your home for a longer period of time, the fixed rate mortgage is most likely the more conservative way to go and involves a lot less risk. Unfortunately, many homeowners presume they are going to move, relocate, sell and buy, within the five year period and then their plans change. At that point they are stuck with an adjustable rate mortgage unless they refinance all over again.

Fixed Rate Mortgages

A fixed rate mortgage is a mortgage that has a payment that remains the same over the entire period of the loan. These mortgages are usually for terms of either 15 or 30 years. Approximately 75 to 80% of the homeowners who take out mortgages, take fixed rate mortgages on their homes. It gives the homeowners the security of knowing what their mortgages rates will be over long periods of time. It allows them to make plans for the future and gives them the security of not facing higher mortgage payments down the road. Families who have fixed rate mortgages are usually looking to avoid the long term risks of losing their homes in foreclosure proceedings.

homeowner advocates on long islandElliot Schlissel is a foreclosure defense attorney representing homeowners throughout the Metropolitan New York area.

The Effect of the New Mortgage Rules on the Housing Industry

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Elliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure defense attorney.  He can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Underwater Homes and the Housing Market

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Elliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure defense lawyer.  He can be reached at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email to

The Impact of Foreclosures on the Rental Market

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Elliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure lawyer.  He can be reached by telephone at 516-561-6645, or 718-350-2802 or by email to

Low Cost Loans Designed to Stop Foreclosure On Long Island Are Now Available

loan modification lawyerNew York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has recently held a news conference with regard to the new low cost loan program designed to stop foreclosures. At his news conference he stated “we are going to provide loans to families that prevent them from losing their homes.” He went on to state “we know how hard Long Island was hit by the foreclosure crisis this was the worst of the worst. There was a big boom and a big bust.”

Foreclosures on Long Island

The foreclosure rates in Nassau and Suffolk Counties are among the highest in New York State. The highest rate of foreclosures is in the Village of Hempstead in Nassau County. Hempstead residents have a mortgage delinquency rate approaching 30%.

The New Program

Under the new program, families whose mortgages are overdue can borrow up to $40,000. These low cost loans can be used to bring mortgages up to date and deal with property tax issues. These loans will not be payable until the house is sold or the entire mortgage is repaid. These loans will be interest free. However, the amount due and owing will be adjusted to account for inflation. Applications for these loans will start being processed on September 15, 2014. Applications for Long Island residents will be processed first and a month later residents of other parts of the state can apply for this program. There is a requirement that individuals applying for this program earn less than 120% of the area’s median income.

helping homeowners stay in their homesElliot Schlissel is a foreclosure attorney. Elliot has been helping New Yorker’s stay in their homes for more than 45 years. Elliot and his staff of lawyers litigate foreclosures, deal with predatory lending issues, and assist clients in applying for mortgage modifications. His phones are monitored 24/7 and free consultations are offered.

Federal Government Moves Against Banks

foreclosure defense attorneyThe United States government has brought several lawsuits against some of the largest banks in the world. The purpose of these lawsuits was to hold these banks accountable for their mortgage fraud practices. As a result of legal action, JP Morgan Chase entered into a settlement whereupon they have to pay $5.1 billion dollars to the regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This settlement dealt with allegations related to toxic mortgage securities packaged and sold by JP Morgan Chase which was one of the causes of the financial crisis in America. This settlement was part of a larger settlement involving a $13 billion dollar payment between JP Morgan Chase and federal and state officials with regard to the bank’s improper mortgage practices.

Bank of America

A federal jury has found Bank of America was responsible for mortgage fraud during the financial crisis. Prosecutors in the case are asking for approximately $850 million dollars in damages from Bank of America.

Banks Charged for Their Bad Behavior

It is important that the government, even though it is long after the fact, is taking the appropriate legal action to find banks responsible for their wrongdoing which created the mortgage crisis in America.

Homeowners Not Compensated

The settlement between the federal government, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America allocates approximately $4 billion dollars in financial relief to homeowners who were victimized by improper mortgage practices. Considering the hundreds of billions of dollars homeowners have lost, this is a mere pittance. The government should have required a much larger fine from JP Morgan Chase for its improper mortgage actions and mortgage fraud.


The government’s action concerning illegal mortgage practices taken against large banks is too little too late!helping homeowners stay in their homes

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