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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Can Reducing Court Delays and Narrowing Scope of Homeowner Protection Laws Contain the New York Foreclosure Epidemic?

New York Judge Thomas F. Whelan in his article entitled, The Long Island Foreclosure Epidemic, projects a light on the causes of the extensive delays in New York foreclosure lawsuits. There is no question that a foreclosure lawsuit can take up to 8 to 10 years to finish.

Judge Whelan writes that state laws created to protect homeowners can be used as a weapon instead of a shield to delay foreclosure lawsuits. He also observed that court procedures can contribute to lengthy delays.  


I believe it is also important to consider the lenders role in the foreclosure epidemic. 


First. Why are lenders so reluctant to enter into settlements that are "win win" i.e. modifying the loan with an interest rate reduction. Additionally a lender can defer  payment of a portion of the principle balance by requiring a lump sum at the end of the loan. By restructuring a loan with a lower interest rate and allowing for a deferred lump sum principle payment a lender can recover most of it's money, a homeowner can begin to make affordable payments and a foreclosure lawsuit will no longer clog the court system. To often lenders allow the loan modification or settlement process to be extremely frustrating and down right degrading. Lenders create unnecessary processing delays and make unreasonable requests for previously submitted documents. In some instances a lender can take up to a 1 year before making a decision. There is no reason why a lender can't make a decision to modify a loan in less than 2 weeks after a homeowner submits their paperwork.


Second. Lenders and their attorneys delay court proceedings by doing nothing. A foreclosure lawsuit can sit in court for years before a lender takes the next step in the court process. You will never find a single homeowner or property owner rushing to court to "force" a lender to foreclose faster. So a homeowner waits in foreclosure limbo while interests, fees and costs accrue. While it's true a good foreclosure defense attorney can use the law and court procedures to "extend" the life of a foreclosure lawsuit ultimately the lenders choose the pace of the case.  


Third. There may be an incentive for lenders to not foreclose quickly since a completed foreclosure sale requires the lender to assume the risks and costs associated with managing the property. Interests, fees and other loan costs accrue while a foreclosure lawsuit is pending. The homeowner ultimately pays the entire "bill" via a foreclosure sale. Currently property values continue to rise thereby increasing the likelihood a lender will collect all of its money. Additionally many loans in foreclosure have interest rates ranging from 6.5% to 11%. Does the lender say "cha ching" during a delayed foreclosure?  


I have been a beneficiary of the delays in foreclosure lawsuits. For over 10 years I have succeeded in defending foreclosure lawsuits brought against my properties. During the 10 years I obtained a loan modification, principle reduction and the dismissals of foreclosure lawsuits. In one such case, due to my lenders inaction, I filed a quiet title action under New York State law (RPAPL section 1501(4)) which led to a court ordered cancellation and discharge of my mortgage. You can read the decision here: Augustine Diji v. Deutsche BankYou can read the entire case here: Diji v. Deutsche


Judge Whelan confirms the ongoing trend to find and implement real solutions to end foreclosure delays and to reduce foreclosure lawsuits in the New York court system. 


Bottom Line: A lender should not have to wait a long time to collect money it is rightfully owed. Yet a homeowner is duty bound to defeat a lender who does not rightfully attempt to collect a loan.