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Suing Large Financial Institutions

foreclosure defense attorneyThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is reviewing new regulations which will put the brakes on a contentious practice called mandatory arbitration. Under mandatory arbitration rules, consumers must take disputes they have with financial institutions to third party mediators. This prevents them from going into courts and presenting their issues to judges. Consumer advocates feel this practice benefits large financial institutions, credit card issuers and financial service providers to the detriment of consumers.

Fine Print in Consumer Contracts

Most Americans are unaware that there is fine print in many consumer contracts which requires they submit complaints concerning issues, such as disputed charges on financial accounts, to arbitration. Consumer advocates claim arbitrators are often biased and rule against consumers. It should be noted, in many situations, rulings by arbitrators are not appealable.

Arbitration Process

The arbitration process started out as a good idea. Its intent was to give consumers an inexpensive way to challenge bank practices. However, financial institutions have manipulated the arbitration process. When they feel an arbitration firm does not rule in their favor on a regular basis, they shop around for other arbitration companies. This gives arbitration companies a reason to rule in favor of banks so they will hire them again and again.

George Slover with the Consumer’s Union, the public policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports Magazine, stated “this proposal is a tremendous step towards cleaning up a system that has heavily favored companies over consumers who were wronged.”

The new proposal before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau does not create a complete ban on arbitration. It proposes new rules which would allow unhappy consumers to start lawsuits against banks or other financial institutions as a group, through class actions, if they feel it is appropriate instead of submitting to arbitration.

foreclosure defense lawyerElliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure lawyer representing consumers throughout the Metropolitan New York area. He litigates foreclosure cases against financial institutions. His goal is to keep his clients in their homes.

The Lack of Standing Defense

Please click on the link below to watch today’s video blog:

https://youtu.be/IXqt27nalqU

Elliot Schlissel is a foreclosure defense lawyer helping homeowners stay in their homes throughout the Metropolitan New York area.  He and his associates can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802 or send an email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Defective Foreclosure Lawsuits

foreclosure lawyer New YorkHas the bank initiated a foreclosure action against you? How do you know the bank has acted appropriately with regard to fulfilling their obligations as a financial institution? The question then becomes, is the foreclosure lawsuit defective?

There are a variety of reasons that a bank’s foreclosure proceeding against you may be defective. The first issue is whether the bank has all of the proper documents to have legal standing to foreclose on your property. Another issue is how significant misrepresentations, predatory lending issues, or issues involving sub-prime mortgages affected your case.

Exposing Defects in Foreclosure Cases

How do you expose a defect in a foreclosure case? To start with, all of the documents related to the mortgage need to be reviewed. In addition, a detailed Answer to the Summons and Complaint needs to be filed with both the court and opposing counsel. Numerous affirmative defenses concerning potential defects in the case need to be alleged. Thereafter a document demand must be made seeking copies of all of the documents the bank has in its file related to this matter. In addition, interrogatories or bills of particulars can be served on the bank asking a variety of questions concerning the origination of the mortgage, the term of the mortgage and various issues pertaining to the mortgage.

Sloppy Paperwork by Banks

When the real estate industry was booming in 2006 through 2009, banks became overwhelmed with the number of applications being submitted to them. In many situations, their paperwork was sloppy, unprofessional, improperly handled, involved misstatements, false statements, and applications submitted by mortgage brokers that did not reflect the financial circumstances of the prospective mortgagor. Underwriters often lost documents concerning mortgage applications. They also misplaced documents or simply incorrectly handled the underwriting of the mortgage. It is the job of the foreclosure defense attorney to bring all of these problems to light when a bank seeks to foreclose against the homeowner. It is then presented to a judge with the hope the judge will carefully review the situation and reach the conclusion the bank has acted improperly.

Legal Rights and Options

So how do you protect your legal rights? What are your options? The only way you will find an answer to these questions is to consult with an experienced, dedicated foreclosure defense attorney. You can call our office for a free consultation. Our phones are monitored 24/7. Our office phone numbers are 516-561-6645 and 718-350-2802.New York foreclosure defense lawyer

Zombie Homes

Please click on the link below to watch today’s video blog:

https://youtu.be/-_h4DA8o_fU

Elliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure lawyer. He has helped hundreds of New Yorkers stay in their homes. He fights foreclosure lawsuits throughout the Metropolitan New York area and helps his clients obtain mortgage modifications. Elliot and his staff of attorneys can be reached 7 days a week.  He and his associates can be reached by calling 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802 or by sending an email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Fighting Foreclosure Lawsuits

foreclosure lawyer for homeownersIf you are behind on your mortgage payments, do not despair. Foreclosure lawsuits can be fought in the courts in New York. If you receive a letter from your financial institution indicating your home is going into foreclosure or you are served with a Summons and Complaint, your best defense is to go on the offense.

Legal action can be taken to protect your home. The first thing which needs to be done is to have the situation properly evaluated. Should you apply for a mortgage modification? Can you qualify for a forbearance agreement? Should you litigate the foreclosure? Has the bank been involved in predatory lending, violations of Truth in Lending Laws, violation of New York State or Federal banking laws? Have they served you with the 90 day notice? Have they acted properly during the course of negotiations for mortgage modifications? There are numerous issues which need to be analyzed and dealt with as part of a foreclosure defense strategy.

Bankruptcy

Is bankruptcy the right solution for you? Should you file for bankruptcy now or wait until later stages of the foreclosure proceeding? Is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy the appropriate bankruptcy to file or should you file a Chapter 13 which involves a payment plan? Again, this depends on the circumstances involved in each case. Each family’s circumstances and needs are different.

Victim of Predatory Lending?

Predatory lending generally deals with unfair business practices or unethical business practices which lenders sometimes engage in. If the prospective mortgage holder was deceived or agreed to an unfair or abusive mortgage term, it may involve predatory lending. Due to the nature of predatory lending, most homeowners who have been subject to predatory lending end up having their homes foreclosed upon, and if appropriate action isn’t taken, lose their homes.

Predatory lending practices can be exposed as part of a foreclosure defense during the course of a foreclosure lawsuit. When served with a Summons and Complaint the homeowner can allege in his Answer the defense of predatory lending.

Conclusion

Should you find yourself behind on your mortgage, facing a foreclosure lawsuit or in the middle of a foreclosure lawsuit, the best way to protect your interests and keep your family in your home is to hire an experienced, dedicated foreclosure defense attorney.New York foreclosure defense lawyer

Banks Acting in Bad Faith

mortgage modification attorneysIn the case of Federal National Mortgage Association v. Singer, Index No. 850039/2011, Justice Moulton sitting in a Supreme Court Foreclosure Part in New York County, ruled the two banks involved should forfeit more than $100,000 in interest on loans to Mr. & Mrs. Singer. This was a sanction for the failure of the banks to act in good faith with regard to negotiating a mortgage modification with the Singers.

History of the Case

In 2004, the Singers bought two apartments in Manhattan which were next to each other. They gutted and renovated the apartments. When they purchased each of the apartments they took out a separate mortgage on each of the two apartments. After the apartments were renovated, New York taxed the two apartments as a single residence. In 2008, the Singers had a downturn in their income. They used all of their savings to try to keep up with the mortgage payments, taxes, common charges, and expenses which totaled in excess of $5,000 per month. The mortgages totaled more than $500,000 and had interest rates of 7.4% and 6.75%.

Mortgage Consolidation

Mrs. Singer, on numerous occasions, tried to consolidate the two mortgages at a lower interest rate. Initially, she applied to Countrywide, the original lender on the mortgages. Countrywide refused to extend the term or lower the interest rates on the mortgage. Countrywide took the position the Singers did not qualify as distressed borrowers. Their monthly payment on each loan did not exceed 31% of their combined monthly income. In response to this argument Judge Moulton said the bank’s analysis “resulted in an absurd result.” He said this was symptomatic of “many of the faults that plague the current system of refinancing residential property that is in default and/or in foreclosure.”

The loans were eventually sold to Bank of America and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae). Approximately a year and a half later a foreclosure lawsuit was initiated. The Singers again applied for a loan modification. Five months later their modification request was denied. The Singers also offered to pay $18,000 in accumulated interest as part of the loan modification.

Counsel for the Singers had on various occasions suggested balloon mortgages. These mortgages enable residents to make their mortgage payments and help the banks to receive the total amount due and owing to them. This is especially true in light of the fact the apartments owned by the Singers were worth substantially more than the $500,000 in combined mortgages.

Settlement Court Conference

The Singers had attended 5 court settlement conferences. At each of these conferences both Bank of America and Fannie Mae refused to meaningfully negotiate mortgage modifications.

Conclusion

Banks who do not cooperate in negotiating mortgage modifications in good faith can be punished by the courts.New York foreclosure defense lawyer

Long Island Foreclosure Rates Continue to Climb

foreclosure defense attorney on Long IslandForeclosure rates for both Nassau and Suffolk Counties, on Long Island, are the highest in New York State. Approximately 3% of the homes in Suffolk County are in foreclosure. In Nassau County, approximately 2 ½% of all homes are in foreclosure. There are more than 27,000 pending foreclosure cases in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

The Housing Crisis

The housing crisis has hit Long Island homeowners harder than homeowners in other areas of the State. Superstorm Sandy contributed to this problem by devastating many homes on Long Island. Thomas DiNapoli, the Comptroller of New York State, recently stated “if you are on Long Island and you have a huge mortgage, based on a price that no longer was attainable, you could easily get ‘underwater’.” Underwater refers to homes which owe more money on their mortgages than the home is worth.

While in many other areas in New York State the foreclosure crisis is easing, it continues to get worse in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties. In January of 2015, the number of homes going into foreclosure in Nassau County jumped by almost 20%. Some of this increase in homes being foreclosed upon was related to the delayed impact of Superstorm Sandy, which hit Long Island in 2012, has had on homes going into foreclosure. In the State of New York, approximately 1 in every 90 homes is in foreclosure. While in Nassau County 1 out of every 40 homes are in foreclosure, and in Suffolk County 1 out of every 35 homes are in foreclosure. Comparing this to the foreclosure rate in New York City which has only 1 out of every 116 homes in foreclosure shows the huge problem faced by homeowners in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.New York foreclosure defense lawyer

When Does a Lender Have Standing To Initiate a Foreclosure Case?

foreclosure defense lawyerA financial institution has standing to foreclose on a mortgage when it is the holder or assignee of the subject mortgage. In addition, the financial institution must be the holder or assignee of the underlying note prior to the commencement of the foreclosure action which is initiated by the filing of the Summons and Complaint in the County Clerk’s office of the County in which the action is initiated. When the note is accepted by the assignee the mortgage passes to the new institution. It should be noted the transfer of a mortgage without the accompanying note does not validly transfer the mortgage.

How the Bank Becomes the Holder or Assignee of the Mortgage

For a bank to obtain standing to initiate a foreclosure lawsuit, it must be the holder or assignee of the note as well as have the original note and mortgage in its possession.

A plaintiff has standing to foreclose on a note if they are the holder of the note under the New York Uniform Commercial Code, if a person has possession of the note by delivery “from a person entitled to enforce it for the purposes of giving the plaintiff the right to enforce it”, the note was assigned to the plaintiff “by a person entitled to enforce it, for the purpose of giving the plaintiff the right to collect the debt.”

Lack of Standing Defense

It is important in every foreclosure case for a defendant to allege the plaintiff, financial institution, doesn’t have standing to bring the lawsuit. At the time the Answer is interposed, the defendant will usually not know whether this is true or not. The defendant will thereafter, through discovery demands to obtain copies of notes, mortgages and other original documents and/or review records at the County Clerk’s office, ascertain whether this defense has any merit to it. However, the way pleadings work in the State of New York, you must plead any potential affirmative defense whether you know the defense is valid or not. Thereafter you try to obtain records during the discovery process to validate your defense.

New York foreclosure defense lawyerElliot Schlissel is a foreclosure defense lawyer representing individuals in foreclosure cases throughout the Metropolitan New York area.

What to Look For In a Foreclosure Attorney

To watch today’s video blog, please click on the link below:

https://youtu.be/1pTYooKwgH8

Elliot Schlissel is a foreclosure defense lawyer helping homeowners stay in their homes throughout the Metropolitan New York area.  He and his associates can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802 or send an email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Home Ownership: The Pros and Cons

foreclosure defense for homeownersI have had numerous discussions with potential home buyers with regard to the pros and cons of owning a home. There are many substantial benefits but the foreclosure crisis in recent years is illustrative of some of the major drawbacks in owning a home.

  • Renting. If you rent you have flexibility. Most leases are for a year or two. When the lease is over you can move. If your company relocates to a different part of the country, or out of the country, you are not stuck with a significant piece of real estate. In some situations you can simply notify the landlord you are moving and give the landlord the ability to rent your house even before your lease is up and avoid financial liability to the landlord.
  • It should also be noted that when you buy a house, there are many up front costs related to the acquisition of the house. These are often referred to as “closing costs”.
  • Is owning a home a good investment? It generally costs much more to pay the expenses concerning owning a home than to pay rent. However, most homes over time will appreciate in value. If you have a conventional mortgage for either 15 or 30 years, your mortgage payments will be the same each and every month. However, the taxes on your house will usually go up. Since taxes are usually incorporated into the mortgage payments that you send to your bank, it is most likely that even though the actual mortgage payments will stay flat, the amount of your expenses will go up from year to year.

According to Richard Green, a professor at the University of Southern California the following is a rule of thumb as to how much appreciation you will need to make the home a worthwhile investment vis a vis staying in an apartment and paying rent. Professor Green states that house values should not “have to go up more than 3% a year for you to break even.” Professor Green suggests that your home should not be your sole investment. He states “the idea that home ownership doesn’t carry a lot of risk with it is wrong.” “If you are in a mutual fund, with a long term prospective, it is probably going to grow faster than real estate values. Housing can be more volatile than you think (depending on location).”

  • What is equity in a home? To start with, you only build equity if the value of your home is increasing. If your home is appreciating while you are paying off the mortgage, you are developing equity in your home. To determine the equity in your home you subtract from the appraised value of your home the amount of your mortgage debt. What remains, if anything, is your equity in the home.
  • Home ownership is a long term investment. It is generally suggested that if you purchase a home you stay in it for a minimum of 5 years. This will give your home a reasonable period of time to appreciate. You also need to consider the closing costs involved in purchasing a home and the expenses involved in selling a home when you determine the actual equity in your home.

Buy a Home and You are the Landlord

When you rent, if something breaks you can contact the landlord and/or his representative and request they make the repairs that are necessary. When you own a home, if something breaks, doesn’t function properly, or goes wrong, you are responsible. If you can’t fix it, you have to hire someone at your own expense to fix it. Maintenance costs in a home, generally, are more than most people anticipate. Before you buy a home you should have an engineer inspect the home and advise you whether the boiler, electrical system, roof, foundation or other aspects of the home are in good condition. You don’t want to buy a home and have it fall down shortly after you purchase it.

New York foreclosure defense lawyerElliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure defense attorney. He helps homeowners in the Metropolitan New York area fight foreclosure lawsuits and obtain mortgage modifications.

Foreclosure Defense in Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Baldwin, Malverne, Freeport, Oceanside, Long Beach, Elmont, Lakeview, West Hempstead, Hempstead, Merrick and Bellmore, New York

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