Number of Underwater Homes Shrinking

underwater homes improving

Underwater homes are gaining equity and improving the housing markets in many areas.

An article recently completed for the McFarlin Law, LLP website summarized the findings of an equity report published by CoreLogic, a housing tracker firm.  The report indicated that just over three and a half percent of Orange County homes with a mortgage were valued less than was owed during the second quarter of this year, otherwise known as underwater homes.  In 2009, the same statistic had risen to more than one hundred and thirty thousand homes in Orange County.  Alternatively, the newest report specifies that only nineteen thousand eight hundred and forty homes can be termed as underwater homes in the same locale.

As a result, the article notes that the report indicates that the state of the housing market in the area is certainly improving.  Specifically, eighty five percent of underwater homes have shown to regain equity over the course of the last five years.  Reasons for the increase in equity have varied; some homes regained equity because of an increase in the home value, while others simply increased in equity due to being foreclosed or being sold at a loss.

Despite the fact that the report generally brought good news to homeowners of Orange County, the article still sought to provide possible opportunities where homeowners could potentially face losing their homes.  It can be something as simple as an illness or the loss of steady employment that results in a family being uprooted.  If this happens, the article first cautions facing the problem head-on; ignoring statements and letters from the lender will not make the problem evaporate.  Having a back-up plan can also be reassuring, according to the article, which provides several programs that offer loan modifications and government housing possibilities that can serve as a solution to losing a house in an emergency situation.  The Home Affordable Modification Program, otherwise known as HAMP, can help the homeowner lower the monthly mortgage payment to thirty one percent of the individual’s verified monthly gross.  Principal Reduction Alternative, otherwise known as PRA, specifically works to address those individuals who own an underwater home; the program allows homeowners who owe more than the home is worth to reduce the amount they owe.  For those homeowners who already have a second mortgage on their property, the Second Lien Modification Program, otherwise known as 2MP, allows certain homeowners to modify their second mortgage.  Finally, The Home Affordable Refinance Program, otherwise known as HARP, can help homeowners refinance into a more stable mortgage.

Housing Crisis Reveals Larger Problem

property fraud

The fraudulent act of predatory lending practices often leave homeowners in debt.

The housing crisis has unfortunately revealed yet another issue in the real estate market.  According to a post created for the McFarlin, LLP website, some lenders are taking advantage of the dire housing market to attempt schemes and tricks against their loan applicants.  The resulting scam is entitled predatory lending practices, and large banks and sub prime lenders typically engage in the fraud.  Essentially, this scam involves exploiting homeowners until they are buried in debt.

There are two separate types of predatory lending practices.  First, there are lenders who extend abusive loan terms.  This is when a lender offers high interest rates and fees, producing balloon payments, extreme penalties for late payments and large upfront fees.  Unfortunately, this means of predatory lending practices often leads to foreclosure proceedings; the lender may utilize foreclosure fraud to further abuse the already tricked homeowner.

The second means of engaging in predatory lending practices is entitled discriminatory targeted marketing.  Essentially, this requires the bank to use public information to locate vulnerable individuals—people they think may fall victim to schemes.  It should be noted that it is not illegal to market to a large audience; however, legality becomes an issue when banks use marketing to exploit groups of consumers.  In this method, targets are engaged in discussions, in which certain important facets of information about the loan are omitted, resulting in consumers that are tricked into a deal they cannot afford.

In both of these methods, victims fall behind on their payments, making it very difficult for the consumer to save their home or protect their credit. As a result, many fall to foreclosure, as opportunities to save the home are missed, due to a lack of knowledge in their legal rights.  Therefore, the post urges that any consumer that feels suspicious about their treatment at the hands of a lender contact a legal consultant, just to make sure the loan terms and deal are all legal and in the best interest of the borrower.

New York Firm Expanding Real Estate Litigation

Becker and Poliakoff Law Firm

This New York firm welcomes the seasoned real estate attorney and commercial litigator, Joseph J. Ceccarelli to their team.

New York law firm Becker and Poliakoff is seeking to expand its real estate litigation practices, by adding noted litigator Joseph J. Ceccarelli to their team, according to an article recently completed by Market Wired.  Joseph J. Ceccarelli graduated from Fordham University, where he received his J.D, Degree and his B.A. in Economics, including the prestigious honor of graduating magna cum laude.

Ceccarelli is a seasoned real estate attorney and commercial litigator, with over twenty five years of experience in New York City law. Prior to joining Becker and Poliakoff, Ceccerelli was the founder and managing partner of Ceccarelli Weprin PLLC, a law firm serving in business, commercial real estate and transactional cases for the last twenty years.  Ceccarelli himself focuses on real estate transactions of many varieties; his extensive litigation background brings added dimension to his defenses, including a level of analysis to transactions. Finally, Ceccarelli works to serve all his clients, with an emphasis on cases involving service and construction contracts, commercial leasing of office and retail space and other building-related agreements.  He’s had much experience in the courts of New York, being admitted in the past to argue in front of the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the United States Court of International Trade and the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts.  Ceccarelli is also a member of the New York Bar.

Victor DiGioia, the managing shareholder of Becker and Poliakoff’s New York office, is thrilled with the firms recent hiring of Ceccarelli. DiGioia believes Ceccarelli brings a wealth of talent and experience to the New York practice.  He is a proven leader and trusted advisor with a client-first attitude.  Ceccarelli’s work has also demonstrated his ability to deliver practical, cost-effective solutions to complex legal challenges.  Ceccarelli, in turn, is also excited to joint he firm, believing that Becker and Poliakoff’s well-established Wall Street and real estate practices in various offices ranging from Florida to Washington, D.C. will certainly provide the resources and capabilities needed to support his existing corporate and real estate clients.

Florida Law Misconstrued to Meet Different Ends

condo damage

Florida real estate law makes it easier on condo owners who have suffered damages from hurricanes to put the condo up for a quick sale.

According to an article recently completed for the ABA Journal, an amendment made to a Florida real estate law has allowed some to take advantage of the struggling condo market.  The original law allowed condo owners to terminate the building’s condo status; this was a desirable action for those who had suffered severe damage from hurricanes.  The law allowed for a quick sale of the building to a developer, who would repair the damage from the storm and turn it over to be rented.  Essentially, it allowed owners to get out from under a destroyed property value.  However, this could only be done through a unanimous vote from all who owned units in the condo building.  One single holdout could block the entire exchange.

An amendment was introduced in 2007 as a means of circumventing the holdout issue.  The amendment allowed for a termination of the condo status with the approval of eighty percent of the condo owners.  The amendment also allowed the law to be applied to dwellings that were intact—sans any damages from storms—as well as those who had suffered damages.  In the case of those who continued to holdout and were overruled, those owners were to be compensated with the market value of their unit.  However, this isn’t always the relief that owners wish for; one owner has filed suit, as the market value of the condo she paid over three hundred thousand dollars for has now fallen to a meager seventy four thousand.

There are other complications that have arisen from the amendment as well.  Many developers in buildings where the units remain empty are using this amendment to reclaim units and rent them as apartments.  These developers are attempting to force owners to sell their units to turn the property over for renting.  This issued ultimatum and pressure for owners to submit to the desires of the developers has created a mess of litigation, centering on arguing which side is interpreting the amendment correctly.

Lawsuit by Investors of Empire State Building Thrown Away

The Empire State Building is one ov New York City's most valuable and recognizable landmarks.

The Empire State Building is one ov New York City’s most valuable and recognizable landmarks.

Empire State Building investors claim to have been cheated out of millions by the real estate professionals, Peter Malkin and son Anthony, who were involved in a lawsuit that they ended up throwing out. Justice O. Peter Sherwood of the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan stated early this week that based on an agreement that was made between the Malkins and the investors in May of last year, the investors lost their privilege to sue them. This agreement was a settlement of $55 million in regards to the fortune of the Empire State Building.

The Malkins were accused of rejecting offers that were almost $4 billion, made by individuals looking to have share in the building, as well as the Empire State Building Associates LLC, ESBA. The Malkins were said to have abandoned the bidding war. This lawsuit took place in December 2013. The Malkins were also said to have taken other properties that were under their control and include them in the Empire State Realty Trust Inc. (real estate trust), and deceptively raise the value of those properties.

Sherwood went on to say that the plaintiffs had already asserted this claim against these defendants, and being that they had previously accepted a “covenant not to sue,” Sherwood said that this claim would be disallowed. As the lawyers of the investors clearly disagreed with the court’s actions and decisions, the lawyers of the Malkins, on the other hand, were thrilled.

It is no wonder that people are fighting to get a piece of this nostalgic, charming New York City landmark.  The Empire State Building is featured in countless movies and television shows, as well as famous lyrics, photos and other arts. It is a representation of New York’s strength and beauty. Also contributing to its city’s diversity, the Empire State Building changes its colors in celebration of holidays of all religions, special events, and other causes.

In 1961, 30 years after it’s opening, the Empire State Building Associates LLC was created by Peter Malkin’s father-in-law, Lawrence Wien and was supervised by Malkin Holdings LLC. The Malkins have a long history of being a part of this building.