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Foreclosure Defense Facts: Keeping Your Home When Facing Foreclosure – Part III

foreclosure defense attorney on Long IslandYour Loan Modification Was Denied!

This is not the end of the world. To start with, even if your loan modification was approved, they may not have modified your loan to the point where you can afford to make the payments. If your loan modification is denied, you must litigate the foreclosure lawsuit. After submitting an Answer with affirmative defenses and countersuing the bank, you have an opportunity to make discovery demands upon the bank. You can request documents, financial records and other information from the bank with regard to the processes, procedures and what was involved in initiating the mortgage, having the financial documents moved from one bank to another, and bank policies and procedures. This will give you more information with regard to defending your lawsuit.

Banks can be sued within their foreclosure proceedings. This is called countersuing the bank. In the foreclosure lawsuit, the bank must present testimony and documentary evidence to support their claims. It is not uncommon for litigated foreclosure lawsuits to take three to five years to get through the court system.

Does Foreclosure Mean You Are Losing Your Home?

The answer to this is no! The foreclosure lawsuit is the start of a process by a financial institution to take back the home. If proper Answers with affirmative defenses and counterclaims are filed and discovery demands are made, the banks can be put on the defensive. No one is going to show up at your house and force you out into the street. The purpose of the foreclosure proceeding is for the bank to obtain a court order to sell your home. This is not an easy process. It takes a long time to get through the legal system. Using an experienced foreclosure defense lawyer can give you the security of knowing you will not be forced out of your home in the short run. Before a bank can take your home, they must get through your foreclosure defense law firm. I can tell you this is not an easy thing to do if you are represented by the right lawyer.assisting homeowners on Long Island

Tips to Avoid Foreclosure

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

http://youtu.be/VEakIsUsJfk

Elliot Schlissel is a foreclosure defense lawyer.  He has been helping homeowners stay in their homes for more than 20 years.  He can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Courts Flooded with New Foreclosure Cases in New York

foreclosure defense attorneysIt is estimated approximately 45,000 foreclosure cases will be filed in the Supreme Courts of the State of New York in 2013. It is anticipated more foreclosures will be filed in 2013 than in 2011 and 2012 combined in Courts.

The increase in court filings relates to lenders’ ability to provide documentation of their foreclosure lawsuits concerning the accuracy of the foreclosure filings. There was an affirmation requirement imposed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in October 2010, requiring attorneys for financial institutions bringing foreclosure proceedings to attest to the validity of the material in the foreclosure Complaint. On August 30, 2013, a “Certificate of Merit” replaced the attorney’s affirmation. The Certificate of Merit requires the financial institution and its attorneys to document the institution bringing the lawsuit has the mortgage and note and can document the assignments of the mortgage and note from prior financial institutions to them.

Foreclosure Settlement Conferences

Each foreclosure proceeding in the State of New York is subject to a Foreclosure Settlement Conference. More and more homeowners are retaining attorneys to represent them in foreclosure proceedings in New York. Homeowners are utilizing foreclosure lawyers to represent them at the Foreclosure Conferences for the purpose of pressuring financial institutions into granting the homeowners mortgage modifications. It is estimated there will be more than 100,000 Foreclosure Settlement Conferences taking place in the State of New York before the end of the year 2013. The huge number of settlement conferences is causing the legal system in New York to be overburdened.

Approximately half of the homeowners represent themselves at the settlement conferences. Unfortunately, most homeowners representing themselves have difficulties at the settlement conferences and do not obtain good outcomes. Legal representation has a significant impact on the success rate of resolving the foreclosure lawsuits to the homeowners’ benefit.assisting homeowners

Part III: Bank Of America Had Been Sued For Improperly Handling Mortgage Modifications Before

mortgage modification attorneysIn 2012, Bank of America settled a lawsuit brought by a former employee of a contractor who worked with the bank. This employee had accused Bank of America of mishandling HAMP applications. The Bank has also settled two major Federal lawsuits related to improper foreclosures practices.

Consolidation of Lawsuits

The pending lawsuit against Bank of America is part of a consolidation of 29 separate suits brought against the bank. The lawsuits come from across the country and have been certified as a class action. The lawsuit deals with homeowners who received trial modifications, and made all of their payments on a timely basis. However these homeowners did not receive timely responses from the bank as to whether they would be given a permanent mortgage modification. Pursuant to the HAMP program, the initial trial period was supposed to last for three months. However with Bank of America, it often lasted much longer. The problem was that Bank of America, as well as other banks, refused to properly fund their mortgage servicing operations under the HAMP program. Unfortunately there was not sufficient government oversight of these programs to pick up these problems right away.

It is estimated there are 800,000 mortgages that would have qualified for HAMP mortgage modifications if Bank of America and other large financial institutions had properly funded the HAMP program and supervised the program in the manner in which it was intended. This program was intended to help homeowners during the mortgage crisis in America. Unfortunately, since it was a voluntary program that was underfunded, it did not accomplish its goal!

The Purpose Of The HAMP Program

The purpose of the HAMP program was for the government to give cash incentives to financial institutions to modify home mortgages pursuant to specific standards. This was supposed to provide a streamlined process to help the 4 million homeowners having difficulties in the United States. Instead of accomplishing its goal, Bank of America utilized this program as a means, pursuant to statements of former employees, to obtain as much money as possible from the struggling homeowners and then foreclose their homes. Under the program, buyers were supposed to make trial payments for three months. However in many instances, the trial payments lasted for as long as a year and sometimes even longer. After making as much as a year or more of trial payments, instead of the mortgage modification becoming permanent, the homeowners were denied mortgage modifications. To make matters worse, they then found they owed the difference between the amount of the payments under the trial modification and their original mortgage payments. The Bank of America employees, in statements they had given stated that many of them were given no training whatsoever with regard to the requirement of the HAMP program.homeowner advocates

Part II: Other Financial Institutions Deny Mortgage Modifications For Fictitious Reasons

foreclosure defense attorneyChris Wyatt, who had previously worked for Goldman Sacks subsidiary, Litton Loan Servicing, claimed the company occasionally conducted “denial sweeps.” The purpose of the denial sweep was to reduce the backlog of pending applications for mortgage modifications. In these cases, the mortgage modifications were also denied for fictitious reasons.

The Bank of America employees claimed their supervisors encouraged them to provide false information to homeowners. Simone Gordon stated “we were told to lie to customers and claim that Bank Of America had not received documents it had requested.” “We were told that admitting that the bank received documents would open a can of worms.” She claimed the problem that would occur is that the bank would look to be deficient in its underwriting of mortgage modifications.

These mortgage modification applications were supposed to be underwritten within 30 days. The Bank did not have the appropriate staffing to handle the volume of modifications. It was simply easier to just deny them and make up a reason. Simone Gordon worked for Bank of America from 2007 to 2012 as a senior collector. Simone further advised the court that homeowners who were anxious to find out the status of their mortgage modification applications were told their applications were “under review.” They were told this even though nothing had been done for many months with regard to the processing of their applications. In some situations, the homeowners were told their mortgage modification applications were under review when they had already been denied.

Employee’s Rewarded For Denying Mortgages

Simone Gordon’s affidavit states the employees of Bank of America were rewarded when they denied applications and sent the homeowner’s homes to be foreclosed upon. She stated that collectors “who placed ten or more accounts into foreclosure in a given month received a $500 bonus.” There were additional incentives given to employees. They received gift cards to retail stores and restaurants.foreclosure advocate for homeowners

Part I: Bank of America Employees Lied To Homeowners

mortgage modification attorneysIn a lawsuit filed against Bank of America, six former Bank of America employees and one outside contractor working for Bank of America, filed affidavits with the court, claiming they regularly lied to homeowner’s seeking mortgage loan modifications. The mortgage modifications were denied for made up reasons. These employees were rewarded for denying mortgage modifications and putting the homes into foreclosure. The lawsuit is pending in a United States District Court in Boston, Massachusetts. It is part of a class action brought on behalf of homeowner’s who were trying to avoid foreclosures on their homes pursuant to the governments Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

Bank Of America Denies The Allegations

Bank of America has given a statement through a spokesperson. The statement indicated the affidavits of the employees were “rife with factual inconsistencies.” Bank of America claims to have modified more loans than any other bank in the country.

William Wilson, Jr., who worked as an underwriter for Bank of America and as a manager between the years 2010 and 2012 stated homeowners had to submit documentation of financial information with their mortgage modification applications. Wilson stated that twice a month, the bank required all files that were more than 60 days old had to be denied. This was called “a blitz.” During this period, one team would deny between 600 and 1500 mortgage modification applications all at the same time.

The manner in which the employees justified the turning down of these mortgages was to create fictitious reasons for these mortgage denials. The most common fictitious reason for denying the mortgage was claiming the homeowner had not sent in the appropriate financial documents requested by Bank of America. The Bank of America employees claimed these financial documents were not sent in when the documents were right in front of them!

Erica Brown, a former Bank of America employee, has made statements indicating “Bank of America’s practice was to string homeowners along with no apparent intention of providing the permanent loan modification it promises.” Bank of America and its executives should be subject to criminal investigations with regard to their actions under the HAMP program.assistance for homeowners

Appeals Court Rejects Bad Faith Remedy In Foreclosure Action

loan modification lawyerJudge Patrick Sweeny sitting in Suffolk County Supreme Court, compelled a bank who acted in bad faith during the mandatory foreclosure settlement conferences to grant a mortgage modification to a homeowner. The bank appealed.

The Appellate Division in the Second Department, an Appeals court, held even though the bank failed to negotiate in good faith during the mandatory settlement conferences, Judge Sweeny’s remedy of compelling a loan modification was “unauthorized and inappropriate.” Justice Dickerson wrote in a decision for the Appellate Division, “Courts may not rewrite the contract that the parties freely entered into – the loan and mortgage agreements – upon a finding that one of the parties failed to satisfy its obligation to negotiate in good faith.” Justice Dickerson held in his decision Justice Sweeny’s court order ordering Wells Fargo to comply with the terms of the original loan modification agreement was a violation of the United States Constitution’s contract clause. It was also a violation of the banks due process rights. Justice Sweeny had also ordered that the foreclosure was dismissed.

Remedies For Bad Faith By Banks Regarding Foreclosures

Concerning the lower court’s decision, Justice Dickerson acknowledged the provisions mandating good faith negotiations in settlement conferences were “silent” with regard to the issues of sanctions and remedies. His decision stated “in the absence of a specifically authorized sanction or remedy in the statutory scheme, the courts must employ appropriate, permissible, and authorized remedies tailored to the circumstances of each given case. What may prove appropriate recourse in one case may be inappropriate or unauthorized under the circumstances presented in another. Accordingly, in the absence of further guidance in the legislature or the Chief Administrator of the Courts, the courts must prudently and carefully select from among available and authorized remedies tailoring their applications to the circumstances of the case.”

Judge Dickerson said the Appellate Court saw no reason to disturb Justice Sweeny’s finding that Wells Fargo did not satisfy its obligations. The Appellate Court did not rule out other possible sanctions and remedies against Wells Fargo. However in this case, they found that Judge Sweeny had gone too far.

The Appellate Court took the position the original modification was “merely a trial arrangement, not an agreement for binding obligations of the parties going forward.”

About The Author

homeowner advocatesElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is a foreclosure attorney representing homeowners concerning foreclosure legal defense, mortgage modifications and other remedies against banks who have been involved in improper mortgage and foreclosure practices.

Should You Buy A Foreclosed Property?

In foreclosure situations the bank brings a foreclosure action against a home owner.  Sometimes, after many years, the bank successfully takes title of the home. They evict the family who lived in the home.  There can be significant financial benefits from buying a foreclosed home.  However, there are also a variety of potential drawbacks.

Was The Home Properly Maintained?

If a homeowner was unable to make his or her mortgage payments there is a substantial possibility that the home was not maintained very well.  Homeowners who can’t make mortgage payments don’t improve their homes and often don’t fix things that break.  There is also the possibility that the homeowner, when he was being evicted, engaged in malicious conduct damaging the home.

The following is a list of things you should look for before purchasing a foreclosed home:

  1. Is the home neat and clean? Sometimes bank foreclosed homes have been sitting empty for long periods of time.  No maintenance or cleaning has been done and the houses have fallen into disrepair.
  2. Is the home legal? Sometimes homeowners modify, extend, and change their homes without getting the appropriate approval from their local building departments.  This makes title unmarketable.  In the foreclosure process whether the title is marketable or not does not come up.  However if you buy the home and thereafter you decide to sell it you will be responsible for legalizing the home.  This can involve thousands of dollars of modifications, application fees and legal work.
  3. Has the home lost electricity? If the home was vacant for a long period of time and the electricity was cut off this can have a negative impact on the electrical appliances in the house.
  4. Water damage. If there have been leaks in the home while it was empty it is possible that the home has suffered from water damage.
  5. Low quality upgrades to the house or poorly done repairs. Sometimes the homeowners are short on money, they take short cuts when the upgrade, modify or repair their homes.  The expression “A stitch in time saves nine” may apply in these cases.  These poorly done upgrades or repairs may not last very long.
  6. Overgrown property.  Homeowners who can’t afford to maintain their homes often fail to maintain their yards and lawns.  The property may be overgrown and/or may require extensive landscaping.
  7. Vandals.  Homes that are empty have a higher propensity to be vandalized than homes that are occupied residences.  Vandalism can involve individuals breaking in to homes, breaking windows, damaging walls, and removing pipes in the basement to sell the copper or brass.

Although there are bargains to be had in buying foreclosures, be careful!  You should carefully inspect the home before purchasing it.  It is suggested that, you have an engineer write an engineering report on your home before buying a foreclosure.  The price may be cheap on a foreclosed home but the real question is have you bought a bargain or a money pit!

Summer Home Buying Season, the Worst in Five Decades

home1Spring of each year starts the home buying season. The months of April through the end of August signals the time that most home buyers come into the market. This is usually a time of heightened activity in the real estate market for the sale of single family homes. This was not true, however, in the year 2011. From the period of April through the end of August of 2011, fewer homes were sold in the United States during any six month period in the last fifty years. Home sales from the Spring and Summer were the weakest since 1963. This is an indication of how poor the real estate market and the economy in the United States is doing.

Low Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates reached their lowest levels since records were kept during the Summer months. However, even with record low mortgage rates and home prices continuing to go down, would-be buyers are still not being enticed. Approximately one hundred and seventy thousand homes were sold from March through August of this year. This is even less than was sold in the same period in 2010, which, up until that time, was the worst in a half a decade. Normally, approximately four hundred thousand homes would sell during this period of time.

Home Prices Falling

The medium price for the sale of existing homes fell to approximately $168,000. This was decreased in 5% from the prior year. New home prices averaged about $209,000, which was almost 8% less than the prior year. Low priced foreclosure sales and short sales have been driving the market down. This causes real estate brokers to press sellers to lower their prices on their homes to compete with these foreclosures and short sale homes. It is estimated that homes in foreclosure and short sales sell for 20% less than their market value. This has the impact of lowering home prices throughout the areas where the short sales and foreclosures are located.

Is the single family home becoming a depreciating asset? Is the American dream over? I don’t think so. However, we may be headed for an additional five years of flat real estate prices before we see a significant rebound

Bankruptcy can act as an escape valve to prevent the loss of a home, stop foreclosure, eliminate a second mortgage and stop debt collection harassment. Your credit can be re-established after filing either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy One bankruptcy myth is that you will never receive credit again after filing bankruptcy. This is simply untrue.

Bankruptcy Lawyers

Should you have questions or issues concerning your financial situation or are considering filing for bankruptcy, feel free to call the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo. We’ve been helping our clients for more than 30 years deal with foreclosure defense and bankruptcy matters. We can be reached at 1-80–344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350- 2802.

Falling Home Prices Wreaking Havoc on the Economy

Falling Home Prices WreakingEconomists in the United States are taking the position that falling home prices are a significant problem preventing the economic recovery in the United States. The devaluation of homes in the United States has cost Americans billions of dollars. The declining wealth of American homeowners has had a further negative impact on their confidence that the financial situation will improve in the future.

Richard Curtin, Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan, recently stated “people don’t expect their home to regain value, and that’s really lead to a change in consumer attitudes about the economy that we’ve just never seen before.”

Americans have a confidence problem in their future of their country. They no longer believe that the economy will necessarily improve and financial circumstances will get better. The average income of many American families has declined. The unemployment rate is still over 9%. The expectations for economic growth among Americans have fallen to one of the lowest levels in history.

The Decline of the Real Estate Market

Recent studies by economists have shown the decline in the real estate market affecting all aspects of consumer spending. It is estimated that Americans reduce their spending by $20-$70 a year for every $1,000 decline in the equity in their home. During times of appreciation in real estate, there was a “wealth effect.” The wealth effect made consumers feel that they had liquidity and, therefore, they spent more money. Often more than they actually had. The down side of the wealth effect is, as home values have declined, consumer confidence has declined and there has been a negative reduction in the wealth effect. In other words, consumers feel they’re getting poorer when their houses go down in value and are less inclined to spend money.

Economy Will Eventually Recover

The prevailing view among the economists is that even though things do not look good right now, the economy will eventually get better and Americans will start spending again. Hopefully, appreciating real estate prices will spearhead the economic recovery.

Foreclosure Lawyers

The foreclosure lawyers at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo can help you if you have a foreclosure problem. Our foreclosure defense lawyers litigate defective mortgages, defective foreclosure lawsuits, predatory lending and all other types of real estate related matters. We can explain the federal laws on foreclosure and how they affect you. We attend foreclosure court conferences for our clients.

In the appropriate situation, we will discuss foreclosure related bankruptcy issues, such as filing a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy with you. In bankruptcy situations, there is an automatic stay that goes into effect, ordered by the court, that stops foreclosure from moving forward. In some bankruptcy situations, we can eliminate second mortgages. At the end of the bankruptcy, we can assist you inre- establishing your credit. Feel free to set up a free consultation with us. We will discuss your foreclosure options with you.

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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