Author Archives: Joseph Maniscalco

Big Banks Continue to Settle Charges of Defrauding Homeowners

Nowadays, newspapers regularly publish articles about big banks settling charges that they routinely “misled investors while selling billions of dollars of investments linked to home loans.”

The unfortunate reality is that homeowners were likely ill-advised (if at all) by these same banks of the intricacies of the loans they were taking, including the impact of interest rate hikes, the reality that they were borrowing more than they could pay, etc. Likewise, the banks that were lending to these homeowners failed to advise Wall Street about the risky nature of the loans, Wall Street failed to advise the insurance companies (like AIG) about the risky insurance derivative swap business, and so on and so forth. While this was happening, America rejoiced. The housing market boomed, home prices soared, mortgage brokers earned high fees and, naturally, banks collected huge fees. Then the inevitable happened: homeowners defaulted on the loans they could never afford, foreclosure filings increased, real estate values stopped rising and, little by little, the real estate bubble burst and the crisis unfolded.

Now, after being bailed out by Congress and Wall Street, the same big banks are settling serious charges, such as misrepresentation and failure to disclose, and agreeing to pay “hefty” fines. However, are these fines hefty enough when compared to the trillions of dollars that were diverted? Will the fines actually help homeowners? Or, at the end of the day, will these banks have gambled and won at the expense of the American public?

 

 

October Bankruptcy Filings Up 16% Over Previous Month; Commercial Filings Up 19%

Total bankruptcy filings in the United States for the month of October increased 16 percent compared to September, according to data provided by Epiq Systems, Inc.

October bankruptcy filings totaled 101,278, up from the 87,522 filings registered in September 2012. The 96,498 total non-commercial filings for October represented a 16 percent increase from the September non-commercial filing total of 83,493. Total commercial filings for October 2012 were 4,780, representing a 19 percent increase from the 4,029 filings in September. Commercial chapter 11 filings also increased in October as the 704 filings represented a 3 percent increase over the 681 filings in September.

 

Foreclosure Filings Rising

For many people, Long Island and the American dream of home ownership were synonymous. People felt as though they could purchase a home and live the life they imagined. Things seemed well and good, and money was cheap and free flowing.

Since the real estate “bubble” burst, Long Islanders have suffered dramatically. Foreclosure rates are among the highest in New York state. No one knows when the real estate market will rebound but, for now, many Long Islanders are struggling to survive and stay current with their mortgage(s). Many of us are not succeeding.

However, there has been significant and protective legislation to protect homeowners. Just because a foreclosure action is commenced by your lender, it does not mean that you will be kicked out of your home tomorrow. Due process prevails. Indeed, while the rise in foreclosures is troubling, there is some breathing room. For instance, in New York state, homeowners are entitled to a 90-day pre-foreclosure notice before a lender can begin a foreclosure action. This notice is required to include a list of at least five not-for-profit housing counseling agencies that can assist homeowners at risk of foreclosure.  Sometimes, these organizations can even assist with loan modifications.

LH&M is uniquely familiar with the foreclosure process and the protections afforded homeowners. Contact us to find out more.

 
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