Pressure to End the “Shadow Docket” | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Homeowners facing foreclosures in Suffolk County and throughout New York will soon get a little relief, since the governor has agreed to sign a newly passed bill into law. The bill is designed to eliminate loopholes that allow foreclosure cases to stall in the court system.

The Way It Was

The foreclosure process is initiated when a lender files a complaint against a homeowner for not paying his mortgage. After filing the complaint, the lender then files a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI), which officially starts the judicial process. Once this request is received, the courts schedule foreclosure settlement conferences between the homeowner and the lender, provide housing counseling, and offer free legal advice.

The Way It Developed

In the past, there have been difficulties with lenders starting foreclosure proceedings even though they are not legally the owners of the loan. To deal with this problem, in 2010, a law was passed that required lenders to file an affirmation that certified the legitimacy of their lawsuit. They were to file the affirmation at the same time as the RJI. Unfortunately, instead of simply filing both sets of paperwork at the beginning of the foreclosure proceeding, many lenders began to delay the filing of the RJI to allow more time to prepare the affirmation. As a result, homeowners were caught in what is termed the “shadow docket.” Foreclosure proceedings have been initiated against them, but they do not yet have access to the mediation and services offered by the court system. As they wait, interest and fees continue to climb, increasing the amount they owe to their mortgage company. Unfortunately, homeowners that fall into this “shadow docket” typically lose their homes completely.

The Way It Will Become

As more foreclosures in Suffolk County and other parts of the state got stuck in the “shadow docket,” lawmakers began to look for a way to address the problem. Their solution was a bill that requires mortgage lenders to submit the affirmation when they initiate their foreclosure lawsuit. This plan will eliminate the reason for the delay in filing the RJI and will give homeowners immediate access to the resources available to them through the court system. The bill was approved by the state legislature in June and then signed into law by the governor on July 31st. The law will go into effect 30 days from that date.

If you are one of the homeowners battling foreclosures in Suffolk County or in Nassau County, Witkon Law can help to protect you against unscrupulous lenders. An foreclosure lawyer can ensure that the law is followed to the letter and that you receive the protection you deserve. Contact the Witkon Law office today for a free consultation.

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Why Use A Lawyer for Real Estate Transactions? | Long Island Attorney

real-estate-photography-nicci

real-estate-photography-nicci (Photo credit: shotbynicci)

The state of New York does not require homebuyers to retain the services of a lawyer, but it is an almost universal practice to do so. Individuals relocating from other areas may question the need for legal representation, but there are several reasons that make it the wisest choice.

A Guide Through the Complexity

Real estate transactions in Nassau County can be quite complex, and an experienced lawyer can provide invaluable guidance through the process. Potential homebuyers should choose a lawyer before they even make an offer on a house. A lawyer can help to negotiate the contract with the seller. They can help the buyer to review the terms of the agreement and ask for any needed adjustments. Retaining the services of a competent lawyer will also give the buyer credibility in the negotiating process. If roadblocks are encountered during the purchasing process, a lawyer familiar with the system can help to move things along.

A Protection from Financial Mistakes

With the high prices of real estate in Suffolk County, a home purchase will be a major financial commitment. A competent attorney can help protect buyers from making costly mistakes that they will later regret. Many home purchases in the New York City area involve co-ops. In these cases, the lawyer will review the finances and board meeting minutes of the co-op. Because of his familiarity with these groups, he may spot potential problems that the more inexperienced homebuyer would have missed.

An Advocate Without Bias

The process of purchasing and selling a home can be emotionally charged for everyone involved. The seller is trying to complete the transaction to obtain the cash purchase price; the buyer is attempting to procure a piece of property; and each real estate agent is interested in earning his or her commission. The real estate lawyer is the only completely unbiased party involved. This detachment can be very useful by providing an objective opinion and voice that can help the buyer make reasoned decisions instead of emotional ones.

The attorneys of Witkon Law have a great deal of experience in dealing with real estate transactions. They will be glad to serve as your guide, protection, and advocate to ensure that you have the best possible outcome. If you are planning to make a home purchase in Suffolk or Nassau County, contact the office today for a free consultation.

Foreclosures in New York Increasing | Long Island Attorney

Half million dollar house in Salinas, Californ...

Half million dollar house in Salinas, California under foreclosure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much of the nation is seeing encouraging signs of an improving housing market. Foreclosures are decreasing in nearly every state. However, in a few states, the number of foreclosures continues to rise.

A Recent Report

Realty Trac, Inc., a foreclosure listing firm, released a report in mid-April that detailed the number of home repossessions and compared them with numbers from the previous year. Thirty-four states reported a decline in the number of foreclosures. Twelve states saw an increase. The state of New York had the most dramatic upsurge with a two hundred percent increase in foreclosure starts during March of 2013 as compared with March of 2012. According to Realty Trac’s statistics, the Long Island area of New York was particularly impacted by these high numbers. Suffolk County and Nassau County hold the first and third positions for foreclosure rates. The data shows that 1 in every 465 homes in Suffolk County is in the process of repossession.

The Demographics

Another report compiled by the Empire Justice Center takes a look at the demographics of these threatened homeowners. The report states that the communities in Long Island with the highest numbers of foreclosures are also the areas where a major concentration of African-American and Hispanic families resides. These neighborhoods also tend to have an unusually sharp decline in home values and poor access to loans and other assistance.  Empire’s statistics show that Long Island represents nearly 26 percent of the state’s foreclosure filings for the first half of 2012.

A Response

These statistics are unsettling, but not nearly as frightening as the predicaments of the homeowners they represent. These hard numbers represent hundreds of real families, struggling to make ends meet, yet facing the loss of the property they worked so hard to purchase. When the first summons arrives, they will likely be devastated, unsure of what to do or where to turn. It is important to communicate to these homeowners that help is available. An experienced foreclosure lawyer can help them to mount a vigorous defense. From negotiations to loan modifications, there are a number of options that may enable these families to keep their homes, but it is important to act quickly.

If you or someone you know is experiencing this devastating scenario, the law offices of Witkon Law can help. Don’t let foreclosure end your family’s dreams of home ownership. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Commercial Real Estate Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy 2012

Hurricane Sandy 2012 (Photo credit: charliekwalker)

After the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, commercial real estate transactions may be on the upswing in Long Island. The flooding and storm surges that preceded landfall and the wind and rain that accompanied the storm caused billions of dollars in property damage. Many business owners in Nassau and Suffolk counties returned to their businesses after the storm to find massive damage. Many properties were a total loss, and most had significant loss.

Business Closures

With the help of lending from the Small Business Administration and other disaster loans, many businesses have begun the rebuilding process. Unfortunately, due to the recession, some businesses were already so financially strapped that this new setback found them with an already depleted reserve. Many of these are already in too much debt to take advantage of the offered loans and will have to go out of business.

In addition to the businesses that close as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy, many other businesses are experiencing a secondary financial impact. Businesses in the midst of rebuilding are forced to cancel contracts with vendors and other companies so that they can direct their finances toward the restoration process. These vendors then experience economic losses that may lead to more business closings.

All of these business closings results in an increased number of available commercial real estate properties. These properties can often be acquired for a significantly lower price than they might have sold for a week before the storm hit the area.

Risk of Purchase

However, purchasing these properties comes with a significant risk. Buildings that appear sound may conceal hidden storm damage. Insurance companies that have been hurt by the recent massive payouts may be reluctant to ensure properties or charge expensive premiums.

Potential for Profit

On the other hand, a purchase of storm-damaged property may turn out to be a lucrative investment. A building can be purchased now at a reduced price, and repaired. Then, when the real estate market has recovered, that same building may be sold at a significant profit. This pattern has been demonstrated follow storms of this nature in many other parts of the coastal U.S.

If you are considering making a commercial property purchase in this time of financial recovery, make sure that your interests are protected. Along with a real estate broker to help you locate and choose your property, contact a real estate lawyer to help you navigate the sometimes-confusing paperwork. The Law Offices of David Witkon have considerable experience in commercial real estate transactions in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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