Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Be careful when listing a house for sale

I am told that many municipalities check listings for statements such as _________ updated recently and than check if the house had proper permits for that update. If the permits don't exist, a violation is cited. Better not to brag about what may not be legal. Just a suggestion. By the way, we at Lieb at Law always recommend doing everything by proper permit.

To illustrate, we just spent 6 months navigating the Historic Society and Building Department just to get 2 new signs on our building. I just believe disclosure about liability for those who have not complied is necessary. Good luck.

Tax Grievance Workshop

Please come to the Center Moriches Free Public Library tomorrow evening from 7PM - 8PM for our free workshop sponsored by the Moriches Chamber of Commerce. You will learn to grieve your taxes & best of all its FREE.

New Class Date Opened - Foreclosure and the Economy

Thursday, 5/27/2010 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM, to register go to

Great Class Last Night

Thank you for all those who attended Foreclosure and the Economy. I truly believe we learned a lot together and had a great time. We appreciate your attendance.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hope Now at Nassau Coliseum

April 28, 29 or 30 Wednesday - Friday 1:00pm - 7:30pm

HOPE NOW is an alliance between counselors, mortgage companies, investors, and other mortgage market participants. This alliance will maximize outreach efforts to homeowners in distress to help them stay in their homes and will create a unified, coordinated plan to reach and help as many homeowners as possible. The members of this alliance recognize that by working together, they will be more effective than by working independently.

Homeowners can get face to face help from servicers and counselors. These events are an opportunity to learn more about local housing task force efforts and state programs that offer assistance. These events can be sponsored by a local counseling agency or an alliance of concerned housing partners.

For more information, go to

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Newspaper Article on Lieb at Law

Carrying On A Family Tradition

Andrew Lieb, the managing attorney at his family-owned law firm, Lieb at Law on Main Street in Center Moriches, is ready to share a few secrets with the community.
Mr. Lieb will lead a free seminar instructing people on how to grieve their property tax assessments on Thursday, April 29, at 7:15 p.m., at the Center Moriches Free Library on Main Street. The presentation is a joint effort between Mr. Lieb’s firm and the Chamber of Commerce of the Moriches.
Mr. Lieb explained that it’s a simple process to grieve one’s tax assessment, the process in which taxpayers file a request with the Brookhaven tax assessor’s office to reduce the amount the town says their homes are valued at, and thus reduce their property taxes.
“Homeowners should only pay taxes commiserate with the fair market value [of their homes] and people don’t realize that you don’t have to be a lawyer to grieve your own property taxes. It’s only a four-page form and it’s basically foolproof,” Mr. Lieb said.
At the free seminar next week, Mr. Lieb will distribute grievance forms and discuss the finer points of a grievance—namely, what to do if the town denies the request. Residents can file suit in small claims court asking a judge to reduce their assessment, he said.
“We want to empower people with the knowledge they need to save time and money,” Mr. Lieb’s wife, Lauren, said of the idea to offer free tax counseling. “We want to humanize the experience.”
That sentiment may be indicative of a downto-earth culture of the company that Mr. Lieb said was initiated by his grandfather, Harold Lieb, who ran a drugstore, Ace Pharmacy, in the building that now houses the law firm begun by Mr. Lieb’s father, David Lieb.
In 1951, Harold Lieb brought his family from New Jersey to the sprawling duck farm landscape of Center Moriches.
“My father,” the elder Mr. Lieb explained, “had his choice of three locations when he decided to open the pharmacy, Port Washington, Huntington and Center Moriches.”
Mr. Lieb decided not to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I was more interested in law than chemistry,” he said. “So I earned my law degree, and in 1977, I made a decision.”
The decision was to establish Lieb & Lieb, a venture David and his brother Joseph Lieb entered jointly. Eventually, the siblings went their separate ways, and Joseph opened a small firm in Patchogue.
And then a few years ago, Andrew entered the family business.
“I was studying Public Health at Indiana University,” he said. “But I was meant to be a lawyer. I wanted to work in a position where I had the power to make a positive change, to make a difference.”
Because of his family’s long connection with Center Moriches, Mr. Lieb believes that the firm’s ability to provide excellent service should be an easy sell.
“I want the vibe here to be as it was when my grandfather ran the pharmacy,” he said. “I want people to feel comfortable enough to drop in any time, if just to say hello, and as needed, find legal guidance.”
Mr. Lieb’s wife Lauren simplifies the idea a step further, “Basically, it’s nice to be nice. If you treat people with respect, talk to them openly and provide the service they need in the meantime, you can’t go wrong.”
Offering free advice for neighbors in a pinch isn’t limited to providing tax information. Lieb at Law also offers free real estate classes and certification courses.
This series of free courses, Mr. Lieb admits, may initially raise a few eyebrows.
“Traditionally, brokers and agents pay out of their own pocket to maintain licensure or to update their accreditation,” Mr. Lieb explained, “Nowadays, particularly in the real estate industry, it’s beneficial to offer these services for free.” Mr. Lieb, who moved to East Moriches with Ms. Lieb in 2007, has poured his energy into participating in several community organizations. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Colonial Youth and Family Services of Mastic, works closely with the Chamber of Commerce of the Moriches and sits on the Business Advisory Council for Center Moriches High School.
Years ago, before the Liebs finalized plans to move to the area, the couple met with Mr. Lieb’s sick grandmother, who offered some sage advice.
“You will never regret living here,” she told them. “You will love living in a small town.”
“It’s true, when it comes to Center Moriches, we’re extremely proud to be here,” Ms. Lieb said. “You would be hard-pressed to find a better community to serve or to live and work in.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Ending

April 30th is the deadline when buyers must be under contract to qualify.

for more information from the IRS.

If you are near contract, enter it quickly, $8,000 or $6,500 are a lot to loose for tardiness.

Fair Debt Collection Act and Foreclosure

On April 21, 2010, the United States Supreme Court ruled that an attorney for the lender in a mortgage foreclosure action can violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA") regardless of the exception for an unintentional and bona fide error under Section 1692k(c)because a lawyer is supposed to know the law and therefore an error cannot be unintentional.

This should keep foreclosing lenders in check because they often are overwhelmed and unsure of the facts and law in front of them at foreclosure settlement conferences and in HAMP applications.

It seems that our society is really moving to a pro-borrower stance.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CE Class on Thursday - Foreclosure and the Economy

We will be teaching on Thursday from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at Bethpage Federal Credit Union (BFCU), which is located at 899 S. Oyster Bay Rd, Bethpage, NY 11714.

Summary: This seminar is very similar to the course that Mr. Lieb taught to the Suffolk County Bar Association as a Faculty Member of the Suffolk Academy of Law. Beginning with basic definitions, this course quickly jumps into providing the requisite skills to draft a Hardship Letter, negotiate with a Loss Mitigation Department, navigate The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, and much more. This course will get you ready to make money in this difficult economy.

To register, go to

Welcome to the Hamptons and the shift to development

It appears the Hamptons are in high blast this year. Call them rentals as I read in many newspapers. Call them new purchases. The truth is that there are just many more people here than this time last year. My wife and I had some friends out for the weekend and we went out to Westhampton and everywhere was packed. That means there is much more discretionary income around because spending time at a second home community sure means you aren't working (unless you are like me and work here). So this tells me sales are going to start moving (there is a lot of inventory, but discretionary money helps it move), there will be more rentals, and here starts the renovations. I really hope we can start talking on this blog more about development and less about foreclosures because of this news.

On a foreclosure note, please remember that after a foreclosure auction you cannot stop the foreclosure, its already happened. My firm just had a consult on Friday where we were asked why we couldn't stop a foreclosure that was already bought at auction. The fact is that all you can do after an action is either have the foreclosure judgment vacated (undone), which is challenging, or buy the property back from the auction purchaser. So foreclosure defense is only about pre-sale. Post-sale we are talking about challenging jurisdiction or some other obscure tactical maneuver. To be sure, my firm offers these services too, but they are much riskier and usually cost more. The moral is don't wait to hire a lawyer until after the sale, its bad enough if you wait months after being served, but this is just too long. The best thing to do with any lawsuit is to speak to a lawyer asap. Hope this clears up a few things.

Now onto development, has anyone else noticed the abundance of 55+ communities popping up around the east end? I have been told in business to never open a candy store in a town unless there is already one, this lets you know that the town can support a candy store. So without doing market research it seems that the demand for 55+ communities on long island is high and the target location for 55+ individuals is slightly calmer, more beautiful, and further from the city. Interesting. During the next few weeks I am going to focus a little time to 55+ communities and some things that make them unique for any aspiring developers out there, opportunity is knocking.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Construction continues to be in standstill

Less than 3% of US metropolitan areas added construction jobs from 2009 to 2010 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). In fact, Long Island had an 8% drop in contruction jobs alone (Long Island Business News). So what does this mean to us?

For starters, there are a lot of people not working. More so, of those who are working, they probably aren't getting paid that much. Yet, lets look at this from another angle. Construction workers are desperate for work. Maybe its time to get some renovations or construction done for property owners and developers. This is definetly a market where you can get a great discount on labor, which is quite a great opportunity.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Home Affordablity Foreclosure Alternatives Program is Born

Welcome HAFA to the Making Home Affordable family!!!

You were born on April 5, 2010 and you might be the best child yet. You have joined some great siblings, such as Home Affordable Modification Program; Home Affordable Refinance Program; Treasury FHA Home Affordable Modification program; and Second Lien Modification Program. Yet, you look at the world differently. You aren't so into preserving the status quo. You are open to change. Instead, of staying in the home, you will either sell it or give it back to the lender. Instead of trying to make a bad situation work, you will cut ties with the baggage and start again. Best thing is you have eliminated all possible liability for a deficiency when a house is sold for less than its loan. Not only do you forgive such a deficiency, but you give financial incentives to those who love to play by your rules. Heck, you have changed the rules by making short sale approval be proactive rather than retroactive. So smart. I can't wait to watch you grow and change an industry. You will reinvent the short sale.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Class on Tuesday - Mold is Money

We will be hosting a CE Class on Tuesday 4/13/10 from 5:30PM to 8:30PM at 376A Main Street, Center Moriches, NY. Seating is still available. Go to to register today!

Instructor(s): Andrew M. Lieb, Esq., MPH; Sean Lopez

Summary: Health, law, and safety. Mr. Lopez brings his hands-on experience as a professional mold remediator, while Mr. Lieb offers both his background as an Adjunct Health Professor at Nassau Community College and his legal expertise as we delve into this complex field from 3 angles. You will be introduced to spores like you have never seen them before, as a profit center for transactions, leasing, and property management. You will also learn to minimize your own exposure to liability.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Cram-Down Confusion

A cram-down is a strategy that is available in a short sale to eliminate the second mortgage from the equation through a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Essentially, a Cram-Down permits the debtor to avoid the lien of a wholly undersecured, consensual mortgage lien holder who was probably giving the most resistance to permitting he short sale(holding the whole process up). To illustrate, where a house has a fair market value of $450K and a first mortgage of $450K and a second mortgage of $50K, the second mortgage is wholly undersecured, and the lien can be removed and the debt discharged in bankruptcy. Therefore, the second mortgage has no say if the sale goes through. Sounds great, right? It also works well for mortgage modifications.

Yet, there is confusion if a Cram-Down is available in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Specifically, there are 3 Center Islip Bankruptcy Judges, but only Judge Dorothy T. Eisenberg has permitted the use of a Cram-Down. Further, the other 2 Judges, Judge Robert E. Grossman and Judge Alan S. Trust, both expressly reject the availability of a Cram-Down.

Therefore, until a higher court rules on the issue or the legislature enacts a new bankruptcy law, there is ambiguity if this strategy will work. As of today, a debtor in bankruptcy has a 1/3 chance of this working depending on their luck of being assigned to the right Judge. That's a lot of risk for an expensive legal procedure. It makes it very difficult to advise a Cram-Down as the best strategy. If you desire to try the Cram-Down, I wish you good luck. Lets hope for clarity soon.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Tonights Class - Discovering the Home Inspection

Earn 3 CE credits in our NYS approved course "Discovering the Home Inspection" with our special guest instructor from Housemaster, Matthew Kaplan. Go to to register today. The class will be held at 376A Main Street, Center Moriches NY, 11934 from 5:30 to 8:30 PM.

Its time to educate your bottom line!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Association for a Better Long Island, Inc.

For those of you who are interested in different real estate groups making a difference in Long Island, this one caught my eye.

Their mission includes addressing 5 main challenges in Long Island:
1) The property tax structure;
2) Affordable energy;
3) Public condemnation;
4) Affordable housing for a new generation of Long Islanders; and
5) Not in my back yard's regressive outcome.

To learn more about this association, please click here

Please know that I am not endorsing this organization as I am not too familiar with it beyond reading its website, but please share your thoughts if you are more familiar. It sounds like a good cause.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Hey business owners, does your front door open outward?

Did you know that a main street store with a door opening outward onto a sidewalk may be liable if a passerby is struck by the door?

Tip of the week - Make your door open into the building not outward.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Water damage found on way to closing

A purchaser makes an inspection the morning of his closing to purchase a house. Unfortunately, he witnesses major water damage in the basement. Its unfinished so there isn't property damage, but water damage can render a structure unsound and create issues with mold, among other things. What should he do?

Adjourn the closing. That is really the only choice. Any other option is too risky. The purchaser is not an engineer or a building inspector and will not be qualified to know the extent of the damage or the amount a repair will cost. The purchaser should insist on an adjournment until the property is repaired by the seller and proof of same is offered to the purchaser. Yes, escrow is an option, but how much should be escrowed? Its a risk to guess. Also, a price reduction is nice, but again, how much?

If the purchaser wants the house regardless of this sound advise, the attorney and real estate agents should have him sign an informed consent letter that explains the above risks or they may face liability for allowing him to close with the house in this condition. If not in their wallet, definitely in their reputation.