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Bank’s Bad Faith When Negotiating Mortgage Modifications

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Elliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure defense lawyer.  He and his associates have been helping homeowners stay in their homes for more than 20 years.  His phones are monitored 24/7.  Please call for a consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or send an email to schlissel.law@att.net.

New York’s New Mortgage Proposal

foreclosure defense attorneysNew York is considering a new proposal which would provide an incentive for banks to modify mortgages on homes which are under water. Under this new proposal, the financial institutions would reduce the amount of the mortgage on homes under water. The mortgage amount would then be brought into conformity with the value of the home. In exchange for the reduction in the mortgage, the bank would be entitled to share in the profits if the home eventually increases in value and is sold. This new proposal will require changes in various state regulations. Under the current law, banks cannot enter into these types of arrangements with homeowners.

Governor Cuomo Backs New Mortgage Proposal

Governor Andrew Cuomo stated this initiative will help keep families in their homes and out of foreclosure, while at the same time reducing potential loses for investors. He went on to further state with regard to this new proposal “that’s good for homeowners, good for local neighborhoods, and good for the long term strength of the housing market.”

Unfortunately, pursuant to existing federal rules and regulations, the large majority of home loans in New York cannot qualify under this program. This is because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two federal agencies which purchase mortgages for approximately two-thirds of all home loans in the State of New York, do not allow forgiving outstanding mortgage balances.

The new proposed program would be available to homeowners who owe more on their homes than their homes are worth and have tried to obtain mortgage modifications and have been unsuccessful. Under this program, banks would provide disclosure to the homeowners concerning the terms of the new loan modifications and how much of the profits the bank would receive upon the sale of the home. The proposal would limit the bank to either 50% of the increase in value in the home or the total amount forgiven under the mortgage, whichever is less.

Homeowners Reluctant to Share in Appreciation

Interviews with a number of homeowners with regard to this new proposal, indicated they were reluctant to share in the appreciation of their homes with banks.

Conclusion

The program is an excellent idea. Homeowners whose homes are under water and are behind on their mortgage would be given a second chance to stay in their homes and have their mortgage modified to a realistic amount they could afford.foreclosure advocate for homeowners

Wells Fargo Sanctioned By Court For Bad Foreclosure Practices

mortgage modification attorneysJustice Yvonne Lewis, sitting in Supreme Court in Kings County recently sanctioned Wells Fargo for “wantonly flagrant” bad faith involved in a residential foreclosure lawsuit. Justice Lewis in her decision stated that Wells Fargo had repeatedly frustrated the efforts by two brothers, Francis Ruggiero and Michael Ruggiero to obtain a mortgage modification. They continually demanded more and more financial information.

The Ruggiero brothers owned a home in East New York. They refinanced their home in 2006 with Wells Fargo. They fell behind in their mortgage in 2007. In May of 2007, Wells Fargo initiated a foreclosure action against them.

Court Settlement Conference

At a court settlement conference, the parties agreed to a three month trial mortgage modification. The Ruggerio’s made the first payment under the modification and then missed the next two. At subsequent settlement conferences, the Ruggerio’s claimed they had not been given a trial mortgage modification. Wells Fargo claimed they needed more information for a final determination on their mortgage modification for the Ruggerio’s. Wells Fargo, at the foreclosure conference, requested the Ruggiero’s make further payments under the temporary mortgage modification. However, every time the Ruggerio’s made the payments, they were rejected by Wells Fargo.

In the end, Wells Fargo denied the mortgage modification application. However they offered to modify the mortgage for $2,672.70 per month. This was $600 a month more than the amount under the trial modification by Wells Fargo.

There were further additional settlement conferences before the court. The Ruggiero’s submitted a further package of financial information to Wells Fargo but Wells Fargo took no action concerning this new information. Eventually, Wells Fargo said it would not offer a loan modification, but would reconsider if the Ruggiero’s again submitted a financial package. In the end Wells Fargo never approved a mortgage modification for the Ruggiero’s.

Lack Of Good Faith By Wells Fargo

Judge Lewis in her ruling stated the case is “replete with pervasive indicia of the plaintiffs lack of good faith, evidenced by conflicting information, a refusal to honor agreements, unexcused delays, unexplained charges and misrepresentations and sets forth, in no small measure, a failure to deal honestly, fairly and openly.” The Judge went on to state, “more to the point, it is irrefutable on the proof adduced that the defendants, despite being subjected to ten to twelve arbitrary submissions, successfully established their occupancy of the subject premises, successfully completed the plaintiff’s trial HAMP period, and submitted all required documentation in order to accord themselves a modified loan agreement in the amount of $2,061.50 which the plaintiff in turn, arbitrarily and capriciously increased by $611.20 under false pretenses without any justifiable basis, and ingenuously denied.”

Justice Lewis went on to state that the monetary penalty’s she was imposing on Wells Fargo was necessary because of Wells Fargo failure to comply with the HAMP program.foreclosure advocate for homeowners

Banks Deny Mortgage Modifications

mortgage modification attorneysNew York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has decided to sue Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank for refusing to live up to their obligations concerning mortgage modification applications. Attorney General Schneiderman stated “339 people, since October of 2012, have complained about mortgage modification problems with Wells Fargo and Bank of America.” These banks are under an obligation under a $25 billion dollar settlement with the fifty States and the Federal Government to respond to requests for mortgage modifications within 30 days. Attorney General Schneiderman claims Wells Fargo and Bank of America have flagrantly violated their obligations under the settlement of that law suit. Mr. Schneiderman stated 220 of the complaints by homeowners were against Wells Fargo and 119 complaints were made against Bank of America.

Bank Of America And Mortgage Modifications

In response to these allegations, Bank of America representatives say they had already provided relief for more than 10,000 New York homeowners. These mortgage modifications, they claimed, amounted to more than a billion dollars. Bank of America representatives claimed they would work quickly to address the complaints made to the New York State Attorney General. A Wells Fargo representative stated “it is unfortunate that [Schneiderman] has chosen this route rather than engage in constructive dialogue through the established dispute resolution process.”

Foreclosure Defense

More and more homeowners have been taken advantage of by financial institutions to which they have submitted mortgage modifications requests. The loss of documents, the many months of delays, the lack of response from the bank’s representatives are frustrating and aggravating to homeowners. The best way for a homeowner to deal with these problems is to contact a foreclosure attorney who is experienced in taking legal action against banks for their failures to live up to their obligations and State and Federal consumer protection laws.assisting homeowners

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.

Government Turning a Quarter Million Foreclosed Homes Into Rentals

Homes Into RentalsThe President is considering turning a quarter of a million homes taken over by government controlled agencies into rentals. Putting these homes on the market for sale will only further depress the real estate market. The Federal Housing Finance Agency would like to put 250,000 homes that are owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration on the market to be rented. These homes have been obtained by government agencies pursuant to foreclosure proceedings. Edward DeMarco, who is currently the acting director of the Federal Housing Agency, has stated that “renting these homes instead of selling them in foreclosure may reduce credit losses and help stabilize neighborhoods and home value.” It is estimated that homes placed on the market for sale in foreclosure sell for 20% less than their actual value.

Foreclosure Crisis Creates Demand In Rental Market

Since the housing crisis started, approximately three million former homeowners are now renting. This has reduced the inventory of homes available to be rented. Families that lose their homes in foreclosure have no choice but to rent. Their credit is ruined by the foreclosure proceedings, they generally have no money for a down payment and their only option is to rent. There are those who claim America is becoming a society of renters. The American dream of owning a single family home may become a broken dream. This dream emanated from the conclusion that owning a home would not only provide you with a stable place to live, but will allow you to develop equity. However, during a time of economic turmoil the value of single family homes has been going down. A home, instead of being a worthwhile investment in real estate for the past few years, has been a horrible investment. Single family homes have been declining in value for the last five years. It is estimated that it may be an additional five to ten years before single family homes start increasing in value. In a market where the value of real estate is going down, renting seems to be the logical choice. Why buy a home today that will be worth less in the future?

I think the Obama Administration is on the right track. I believe instead of foreclosing on homes and selling them at auction, the homes should be rented to prevent the continuing oversupply of homes to the real estate market. This will give the real estate market a greater opportunity to reach equilibrium between buyers and sellers. Down the road, when the real estate market recovers, the government can offer these homes to be sold to their renters or to other worthy individuals or families.

Foreclosure Defense Lawyers

Before your house falls into foreclosure, it is suggested you apply for a mortgage modification. If your mortgage modification program does not meet your needs, unfortunately your home may end up being foreclosed upon. Should you receive a Summons and Complaint in foreclosure, our law office can help you. We will attend foreclosure court conferences on your behalf and speak to the Judge about motivating your financial institution to give you a mortgage modification. We’ll also submit a formal written answer on your behalf. Defenses such as defective mortgages, predatory lending, defective foreclosure lawsuits and other real estate related legal defenses can be interposed on your behalf. Our law firm will use its extensive experience in handling these types of cases, to keep you in your home.

We will also discuss with you foreclosure related bankruptcy options. Filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the best route for you in dealing with your foreclosure situation. Why should you file bankruptcy and the types of bankruptcies available to you would be discussed upon your initial free consultation. Should you file bankruptcy you can sometimes eliminate second mortgages. Bankruptcy will stop foreclosure proceedings from moving forward and stop all debt collection activity against you. Call us for a free consultation.

We will discuss all of your foreclosure and bankruptcy options with you. Our phone numbers are 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802. You’ve just visited the Elliot Schlissel, Esq. foreclosure blog.

NY Foreclosure Law Firm Fined Two Million Dollars

NY Foreclosure Law Firm Fined Two Million DollarsSteven J. Baum, P.C. of Amherst, New York, has been fined two million dollars for inappropriate foreclosure legal practices. Steven J. Baum, P.C. is the largest foreclosure law firm in the state of New York. Steven J. Baum, P.C. has agreed, in addition to paying the two million dollar fine, to re-vamp its practices with regard to the handling of pleadings, affidavits and mortgage assignments in New York State and Federal Courts.

The Law Firm has agreed to implement a variety of internal controls regarding its processing and handling of foreclosure proceedings. They have agreed to review original promissory notes received from their clients or custodians of the notes prior to filing new foreclosure lawsuits. These actions will bring the firm in compliance with the order issued by Chief Judge Jonathan Lipman regarding attorneys representing lending institutions.

Mortgage Foreclosure Proceedings

US Attorney Preet Bharara, from the Southern District of New York, stated, with regard to the settlement, “in mortgage foreclosure proceedings, there are no excuses for sloppy practices that could lead to someone mistakenly losing their home.” She stated further that “homeowners facing foreclosure cannot afford to have faulty paperwork or inadequate evidence submitted and today’s agreement will help minimize that risk.”

Baum Law Firm Released from Civil Liability

The Baum Law Firm, upon payment of the two million dollar fine and the imposition of new internal procedures, will be released from potential civil liability under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989. The Baum Law Firm acknowledges that it occasionally made inadvertent errors in its legal filings in state and federal courts, which it attributes to human error in light of the high volume of mortgages and foreclosures it handled throughout the State of New York in the wake of the national subprime mortgage crisis.”

It should be noted that this is a settlement. It is not a finding of wrongdoing by the Baum Foreclosure Law Firm. The Baum Law Firm has also agreed to have experienced attorneys supervising all aspects of the preparation of documents and reviewing of documents before they are filed with the courts. In addition, they are implementing a one to two-year training program for their attorneys to bring them in compliance with the rules regarding foreclosure proceedings in the state of New York.

Hopefully, this law firm will live up to its responsibilities in dealing with foreclosure proceedings. Taking a family’s home and putting them on the street is a sad end to the American dream. These proceedings should be handled in a manner that protects the homeowner’s rights and sees to it that homes aren’t wrongly foreclosed upon.

New York Foreclosure Defense Lawyers

The New York City and Long Island foreclosure defense 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.

A Thousand Days to Foreclose a Home

There is an old expression that courts have two speeds, slow and backwards. In the State of New York, that is certainly true if you’re involved in foreclosureThousand Days to Foreclose a Home proceedings. It is estimated that it takes approximately a thousand days to bring a case from start to finish in both Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York. The delays in foreclosure proceedings are caused by the courts being overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of homes going into foreclosure. There are more than twenty thousand homes tied up in foreclosure proceedings in Nassau and Suffolk counties at the present time. The high level of foreclosures continues to depress the real estate markets on Long Island.

Foreclosure Court Conferences

New York State has a statute that requires a court conference on all new foreclosure proceedings. At the court conference, the Judges and attorneys look into possibility of avoiding foreclosure. Mortgage modifications and other solutions to the foreclosure proceedings pending before the courts are discussed with the homeowners’ attorneys and the attorneys for the financial institutions. These foreclosure court conferences often result in negotiations leading towards mortgage modifications and/or other solutions to these problems.

Cases in New York are subject to a significant amount of scrutiny by the courts. The purpose of this scrutiny is to see to it that innocent homeowners are not improperly removed from their homes.

Saving Your Home, Foreclosure Defense Attorneys

We can save your home from foreclosure. We attend foreclosure court conferences on your behalf. We can submit an answer to your foreclosure proceeding that can include defenses involving defective mortgages, defective foreclosure lawsuits, predatory lending and other real estate related defenses. We are knowledgeable about federal laws and foreclosure. We will provide you at the time of the initial consultation with all of your foreclosure options.

These options will include foreclosure related bankruptcies. The filing of either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop foreclosures from moving forward. Filing a bankruptcy will also stop debt collectors and collection lawyers that may be harassing you. There are many bankruptcy myths that are untrue. Bankruptcy will not permanently destroy your credit. We will be able to help you re-establish credit after filing a bankruptcy.

Call us for a free consultation. We will discuss all foreclosure defenses and bankruptcy options with you at your initial free consultation. We appreciate your visiting our foreclosure blog.

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