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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.

Defense to Foreclosure Lawsuit: The Mortgage Company Made a Mistake – Part I

foreclosure defense attorney for homeownersBanks and their servicing companies make mistakes. Homeowners, at one time, blindly believed whatever a bank did and whatever documents they submitted were always correct. Since the mortgage crisis started in 2008, there have been dozens of publications of inappropriate actions, mistakes, issues involving robo-signing and bad practices by financial institutions. As a result of these disclosures, attorney generals in all 50 states as well as the United States Attorney General have brought lawsuits which have resulted in banks all over the country paying hundreds of billions of dollars in fines and penalties.

Katherine M. Porter, a law professor, conducted a study based on the filings of 1,300 Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. Her study revealed, in a majority of these bankruptcies, documents submitted by the holders of the mortgage contained errors (Misbehavior and Mistake in Bankruptcy Mortgage Claims, Texas Law Review, 2008.)

What Type Of Mistakes To Look For

Mortgage servicing companies cannot always be counted on to give you credit for all of your mortgage payments. They may charge excessive fees in violation of state laws. They may fail to advise you that you can redeem your property by becoming current on your mortgage payments. In the event you seek to reinstate your mortgage, and you receive a statement from the mortgage servicing company with regard to what they claim is necessary to be paid to reinstate your mortgage, that reinstatement must have an accurate itemization of what they claim is due them. An example of a mortgage servicer mistake would be charging you for a reappraisal or home inspection on your home when the mortgage documents don’t make it an obligation of yours to pay these fees. The following are examples of common mortgage servicer mistakes:

  • the bank engaged in coercive improper collection practices concerning their mortgage
  • your mortgage payments get applied to someone else’s account
  • the bank receives your mortgage payment but doesn’t give you credit for it
  • the bank buys insurance on your property and charges you for it in spite of the fact you already had insurance on your property
  • the bank fails to pay your property taxes in a timely manner and a penalty is assessed or the bank fails to pay your property taxes altogether even though they have received the money in escrow for your property taxes
  • the bank charges you late fees and property expense fees even though your mortgage payments were made on a timely basisNew York foreclosure defense attorney

Predatory Loan Issues

foreclosure defense help in New YorkBAC Home Loans Servicing had brought a foreclosure lawsuit against Ramsay. BAC had moved for summary judgment claiming there were no issues of fact and therefore they should be entitled to summary judgment without the need for a trial. They also sought to strike Ramsay’s Answer and have a referee appointed to compute the sums due and owing BAC under the terms of the mortgage.

Ramsay contended BAC’s summary judgment application should be denied. Ramsay claimed there was predatory lending and discriminatory practices involved in making the mortgage by the original lender, Madison Home Equities.

Justice Bernard Graham found BAC did not establish a prima facie case allowing them to obtain summary judgment in their foreclosure proceeding. Judge Graham had questions concerning the relationship between Madison Home Equities and BAC. A question arose as to whether their business relationship would support the allegations made by Ramsay concerning predatory loan practices. In addition the court found Ramsay had offered plausible, reasonable evidence BAC’s decision to deny the mortgage modification was based on incorrect calculations by them. Judge Graham found denial of the mortgage modification may have been unreasonable and Ramsay may have been entitled to said mortgage modification.

Conclusion

The judge carefully reviewed the facts of this case and rendered an important decision supporting homeowner’s rights in this foreclosure case.helping homeowners stay in their homes

The Truth Behind Many Refinancing Scams

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

http://youtu.be/DVkNvzzxzyY

Elliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure defense attorney.  He has more than 35 years of experience representing homeowners in mortgage modifications and foreclosure proceedings.  He can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802, 1-800-344-6431 or by email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Predatory Lending Explained

foreclosure defense advocatesThere have been numerous newspaper articles, stories on television and internet articles concerning predatory lending issues. There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what constitutes predatory lending.

Predatory lending refers to practices engaged in by banks, mortgage companies, mortgage brokers, real estate agents and title representatives which involve dishonesty. Most consumers do not have an expertise regarding obtaining consumer mortgages for residential property. Predatory lending practices take advantage of the lack of knowledge prospective homeowners have when they seek to obtain mortgages to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage. Predatory lending schemes can violate both federal and New York State law.

Examples of Various Predatory Lending Practices

  1. Preparing paperwork for homeowners for loans they cannot afford to make the payments on.
  2. Obtaining false inflated appraisals on homes.
  3. Convincing prospective homeowners to lie on their applications with regard to inflating their income.
  4. Engaging in racial profiling and convincing minority individuals to take out sub-prime mortgage loans.
  5. Charging excessive fees and expenses for preparation of the paperwork with regard to a mortgage application.
  6. Quoting one interest rate or set of terms regarding a mortgage and then later charging a higher interest rate or additional fees and charges.

Auditing Loan Documents

One of the methods to determine whether predatory lending was involved in a transaction and/or whether the loan and the closing on the transaction were handled properly is to obtain a loan audit. Loan audits can provide documentation with regard to predatory lending issues, violations of truth in lending laws, violation of New York State banking laws, fraudulent practices and other unethical or illegal aspects of the mortgage transaction.

Loan audits can show a variety of improper and bad practices engaged in by a financial institution and/or other individuals involved in the mortgage loan process. Among other things, the mortgage audit can reveal fraud on behalf of the financial institution and/or its employees or agents, misrepresentation with regard to the terms and circumstances of the loan, breaches by the financial institution of the contractual obligations and a variety of other issues which can be utilized as a defense to a foreclosure lawsuit.

Conclusion

There has been a lot of predatory lending in the past five to ten years by financial institutions. Just simply alleging predatory lending was involved in a transaction is not enough. The facts and circumstances of predatory lending must be proven.homeowner advocates on long island

Beware of Mortgage/Foreclosure Fraud – Part I

foreclosure defense attorneysThe number of homes going into foreclosure on a national basis has been decreasing. However, the number of homes in the Metropolitan New York area that have been placed into foreclosure by financial institutions has not been going down during the past few months.

Homeowners who find themselves with financial difficulties can be vulnerable to fraudulent mortgage and foreclosure schemes. In California, a woman by the name of Jewel Hinkles swindled approximately 1300 homeowners out of $5,000,000 through a group of companies which she claimed were in the business of buying distressed properties from the homeowners. This is one of many examples of fraudulent foreclosure/mortgage schemes that have been perpetrated on individuals finding themselves in financial difficulty and unable to make mortgage payments on their home.

Avoiding Foreclosure Scams

The most important thing to take into consideration in avoiding being defrauded is if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is fraudulent! Foreclosure proceedings are subject to public disclosure in the courts. It is therefore easy for criminals who seek to scam homeowners by obtaining information about their foreclosure and making false representations to the beleaguered homeowner.

foreclosure advocate for homeownersAnother type of foreclosure scam which is common involves alleged foreclosure counseling companies. Sometimes these companies solicit business with flyers dropped off in homeowners’ mailboxes or they actually come knocking on the door of homeowners whose homes have been placed into foreclosure by financial institutions.

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.

Conclusion

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

Low Down Payment Mortgages

foreclosure defense lawyerLow down payment and no down payment mortgages played a significant role in the mortgage bubble that developed during the housing boom in the United States. When the housing market crashed, many of the families who had obtained mortgages with little or no down payment found their homes worth less than their mortgages and they had no ability to make their monthly mortgage payments. The reality of the situation was consumers were buying homes they could not possibly afford to keep over the long run.
Although it is difficult to obtain a no down payment or low down payment mortgage today, there are still avenues available to obtain these types of mortgages.

FHA Mortgage Loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has a loan program where they provide financial guarantees for individuals to obtain mortgages with down payments as low as 3.5%. Although the FHA actually doesn’t act as a direct lender, this federal agency insures loans by financial institutions that provides the financial institution security to offer low down payment mortgages.

Lower Credit Scores

The FHA will provide mortgages to potential home buyers with credit scores as low as 575. FHA mortgages come with restrictions. To begin with, there are caps on the house price related to the region the house is located in. Secondly, the home must be purchased to be used as a principal place of residence. FHA loans cannot be used to purchase investment property.

When an individual or family obtains a low down payment loan from the FHA, they are required to purchase private mortgage insurance. This private mortgage insurance protects the financial institution in the event the homeowner is unable to make his home payments or there is insufficient equity in the home to pay back the mortgage at time of the sale of the home. This private insurance program requires an up front insurance premium that is part of the underwriting costs of the loan. In addition, the homeowner must make monthly payments. Due to the additional private mortgage insurance premiums, the monthly mortgage payments on FHA loans are usually higher than those of conventional mortgage loans.

Veterans Administration Mortgage Loans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a mortgage loan program for members in the military and former military members. This allows men and women who served their country to obtain a mortgage with no down payment. Similar to the FHA, the VA doesn’t actually make the loans. What they do is they provide insurance which motivates private lenders to participate in this program. There are specific eligibility requirements under the VA mortgage loan program. VA mortgage loans also carry fees at the time of closing, however they do not require private mortgage insurance, which is required under the FHA program. VA loans are an attractive means of purchasing homes for Americans who served their country in the military.

Private Financial Institutions

As indicated earlier in this article, low down payment and no down payment loans were part of the reason for the housing bubble that existed in this country for the past seven years. Although banks have become more aggressive in marketing conventional mortgage loans, new government regulations related to the Dodd-Frank Act which go into effect on January 10, 2014, will make it very unlikely financial institutions will pursue these type of mortgage loans in the future.

homeowner advocatesElliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure attorney with more than 20 years experience fighting foreclosure lawsuits. He represents homeowners with foreclosure problems in the metropolitan New York area.

How Good Does Your Credit Score Have To Be To Obtain a Low Interest Rate Mortgage?

mortgage modification attorneysIf you are in the market to buy a new home or an existing home, one of the most important issues is whether you can afford the mortgage payments. But before you can consider whether you can make your mortgage payments, you need to obtain the mortgage. Credit scores are the most important factor financial institutions look into with regard to underwriting mortgage loans. Today it is recommended individuals applying for a mortgage have a credit score of 740 or above. Credit scores are based on a total potential perfect credit score of 850 points. The 740 credit score that is requested by financial institutions today is among the highest asked by banks at any point in time. Pursuant to www.zillow.com, a mortgage information company, approximately 40% of Americans have credit scores high enough to obtain the best possible mortgages.

Mortgage Rejection Rate

There is currently a 30% rejection rate by financial institutions for those individuals applying for a mortgage. When you take into consideration the housing market has been improving in the United States, and foreclosure rates have been going down in most metropolitan areas, a 30% rejection rate is very high.

So what do you do if you do not have a 740 or above credit score? You can still obtain a mortgage. However, you will most likely have to pay a higher interest rate for the mortgage.

Credit Reports

Before going into the housing market to look for a home to purchase you should check your credit score. You can obtain a copy of your credit report on the internet. Carefully look at your credit report to determine if all the material on your report is accurate. If there are inaccuracies in your credit report contact the credit reporting agency in writing to correct these inaccuracies. Your credit report will also show you the balances on credit lines, personal loans, and credit cards. It will be helpful to bring the balances on your indebtedness down prior to submitting a mortgage application. Banks take into consideration all of your overall debt when they underwrite a mortgage.

helping homeowners stay in their homesElliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure attorney with extensive experience in representing clients regarding foreclosure lawsuits, mortgage modifications and fraudulent mortgage practices of banks. His goal is to help clients stay in their homes.

Federal Government Seeks $863 Million from Bank of America For Defective Mortgages

foreclosure defense lawyerThe United States government has gone into the Federal District Court in New York City requesting Bank of America pay $863.6 million dollars in monetary damages related to fraudulent activities concerning defective mortgages which were sold by Countrywide Financial Services in 2008. It is claimed Bank of America defrauded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government controlled mortgage companies, with regard to the sale of loans purchased from Countrywide in 2007 and 2008. These mortgage loans generated $1 billion dollars in losses.

The Hustle

The case filed in United States District Court in Manhattan claims Countrywide operated a program called high speed swim lane or HSSL, nicknamed the “Hustle”. The Hustle program was set up to provide financial incentive for employees to make as many loans as possible. The program eliminated many underwriting requirements to ensure loans met minimum standards. The government’s position is penalties are necessary “to send a clear and unambiguous message that mortgage fraud for profit will not be tolerated” stated Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who presided over the trial in this matter. The amount of the penalties requested is based on the losses Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac incurred.

assistance for homeownersElliot Schlissel, Esq. is a foreclosure attorney representing homeowners concerning mortgage modifications and foreclosure litigation.

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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