Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ocwen is Finally Accountable for its Actions

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and 49 states have signed a proposed court order requiring Ocwen to spend $2.1 billion on loan modification programs and relief to victims of foreclosure. 

Ocwen is the largest non-bank mortgage servicer in the United States. It was alleged by CFPB that for years, Ocwen has illegally delayed loan modifications, charged improper fees, provided incorrect updates to consumers who were applying for loan modifications, erroneously reviewed foreclosure documents, and inaccurately applied and tracked monthly mortgage payments. 

Like GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, Ocwen is alleged to have deceived and abused the system for too long and must be punished for its illegal practices.

Under the Order, Ocwen is required to comply with the provisions of the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement and must comply with the new mortgage servicing rules that are taking effect January 2014. A knowledgeable, responsive single point of contact must be established for borrowers applying for relief, so that the loan modification process will be clearer and quicker than ever before. Instead of being sacrificed, borrowers will now be protected and given a fair shot at saving their homes.

Borrowers should be overjoyed that there will be more communication between servicer and borrower, and that borrowers who were improperly foreclosed on between 2009 and 2012 may receive compensation. It is a great step forward in the mortgage servicing world. 

Thank you to Lieb at Law's Assistant Case Manager, Jessica Vogele, for sharing this valuable information. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Andrew M. Lieb reappointed as Special Section Editor for Real Property to The Suffolk Lawyer

We would like to congratulate our Managing Attorney, Andrew M. Lieb, on having been re-appointed as the Special Section Editor for Real Property to The Suffolk Lawyer, law journal.

Andrew M. Lieb reappointed as Co-Chair of the Real Property Committee to the Suffolk County Bar Association

We would like to congratulate our Managing Attorney, Andrew M. Lieb, on having been re-appointed as the Co-Chair of the Real Property Committee to the Suffolk County Bar Association for the 2013 - 2014 term.

Welcome to the World - Spencer Nate Lieb

Lauren and Andrew Lieb are thrilled to introduce their son, Spencer Nate Lieb.

Born December 7th, 2013

Weighing 6 Pounds 14 Ounces

Measuring 20 Inches

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mortgage Changes less than a Month Away – What to expect on January 10, 2014

A whole new world of getting a mortgage is coming in the beginning of 2014. You should get familiar now!!!

To remind you, in the years before 2008, financial institutions were subject to little regulation in the United States. Many lenders did not even bother to verify income or debt before handing over adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) to consumers who could not afford them. High risk lending was the norm and mortgage fraud was rampant. These practices caused the subprime mortgage crisis and the worst recession that the country has experienced since the 1930s. Thousands of homes were foreclosed on and over one hundred mortgage lenders went bankrupt as more and more people could no longer afford their monthly mortgage payments.

As a result, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is issuing a final rule that prohibits high risk lending and implements the Truth in Lending Act and sections 1411, 1412, and 1414 of the Dodd-Frank Act. This rule will take effect on January 10, 2014, and will require mortgage lenders to verify consumers’ income and debt. Prepayment penalties that punish borrowers if they sell or refinance their home within a certain time frame are now generally prohibited. Qualified mortgages, which are less likely to end up in default, are defined in great detail and cannot have terms longer than 30 years or fees exceeding 3% of the total loan amount.  Lender are also encouraged to refinance adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and must maintain documentation of compliance for three years after the loan is given to the consumer.

To remain in the real estate game, you must understand these rules and what a qualified mortgage is as that will drive the industry. Please read the rule for yourself!

Will We See an Extension of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act through 2014?

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 has provided relief to thousands of borrowers who have completed short sales or obtained loan modifications with mortgage principal reductions. Before this law was enacted, any forgiven mortgage debt was taxable by the government. For example, if a lender reduced a borrower’s principal balance by $100,000.00, then the borrower would have to report that forgiven debt as ordinary income and pay taxes on it.  This was, of course, impractical and unreasonable for borrowers who were already experiencing financial hardship and were relying on modifications or short sales to save them from foreclosure. Most borrowers could not afford their tax bills and were stuck in the same situation as they were in before they had requested help from their lenders.

Under The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, borrowers do not have to pay taxes on cancelled mortgage debt as a result of a modification or foreclosure of their primary residence. This act was originally supposed to end at the end of 2012, but it was granted an extension through 2013 on the third day of the new year.

An extension may be granted through 2014, but it is unlikely. Both H.R. 2788 and H.R. 2994 are bills that will extend The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act for at least another year, but they were each referred to committee over the summer and have received no attention since. There are 44 cosponsors for H.R. 2994, but it is already now the middle of December and time is running out. In order for this bill to be enacted, it still needs to pass the House and Senate and it must get signed by the President before December 31, 2013. It is improbable that an extension will be granted, but not impossible; especially with the economy rebounding and many forgetting the plight of those left behind. It’s important to not forget these individuals that still need relief and who have often spent years trying to get a modification or a short sale approved only to now be taxed when they finally get the relief that they have hoped for.

So for them, please tell your local representative how important it is that these Bills are passed and The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 is extended for another year.

Thank you to Lieb at Law's Assistant Case Manager, Jessica Vogele, for sharing this valuable information. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hotel Occupancy Tax on Expedia, are brokers next to be taxed for their rentals?

Last week, the Court of Appeals, NY's highest court, ruled that "Local Law 43, a hotel room occupancy tax applicable to online travel companies", is constitutional.

At issue before the Court was the legality of the City's "authority to tax the fees they collect from their customers" in Expedia v. City of NY Dept. of Finance where this fee represents an amount, which is larger than the amount actually paid the hotel for the actual occupancy of the room.

So the question before the Court was whether the brokerage fee, on hotel occupancy, was taxable? 

This decision is most interesting to real estate professionals because they always wonder why there are rules for transient (short-term) rentals of housing. As they can see from this decision, there are rules for establishments that offer transient housing such as hotels, motels & inns in the form of the imposition of a tax, among other rules. Further there are rules for companies that "broker" those deals whereas those "brokers" have to pay a tax on their commission, among other rules. Aren’t these websites, called “room remarketers” in the applicable tax, analogous to real estate brokerage companies for landlord / tenant rentals that aren’t transient? At the least, aren’t they analogous to Airbnb in the transient setting?

In opposition, the online travel companies argued that the City was taxing “a service fee under the guise of a tax on hotel rent” and therefore the tax was improper. The Court explained that the online travel companies were incorrect. The Court stated: “[u]nder the statute, the City may tax a ‘rent or charge,’ and it may collect the tax from a hotel ‘owner . . . or . . . person entitled to be paid the rent or charge’".  Further, “the City may tax any service fee that is a ‘condition of occupancy.’”

Aren’t brokerage fees on landlord / tenant a condition of occupancy? Maybe, but maybe not. Doesn’t a condition mean that its failure prevents the result? Can a broker prevent the result? No, therein is the difference between brokerage companies and travel sites. Real estate brokers often are cut out of deals and cannot prevent occupancy in order to get paid, but instead have a claim for commission that is separate from occupancy. In fact, no Lis Pendens is available to brokers and a mechanic’s lien is only available for a lease with a term of more than 3 years for non-residential property.

However, doesn’t Airbnb do just the same as Expedia? So, will companies like Expedia try to level the playing field next by lobbying that this tax is imposed on Airbnb as well? Right now, the cost of doing business for Airbnb just got cheaper and they now have a strategic financial advantage in the City of New York. What happens next is tantalizing.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Movements in LGBT Discrimination Laws

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's June 26 same-sex marriage decisions, pressure has increased to expand protections under federal, state and local legislation regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in the context of employment and housing. In the employment area, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ("HELP") Committee has approved a bill, ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), that would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Learn more about employment and housing regulations and see the full published article here

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Get Out Girlfriend - Evicting Your Significant Other

Guess what? If you are trying to evict a family member and you resort to a summary proceeding, it will likely be dismissed. Instead, you will end up in a prolonged ejectment proceeding in Supreme Court or in the appropriate matrimonial / family part depending on your precise circumstances. This jurisdictional result is
because Family Member Evictions are typically not available in a summary proceeding. However, should an unrelated paramour be considered a family member after all?

See the full published article here...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Find a housing counselor - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau approves list

Learn if a mortgage is good for you, your clients &/or customers.

Housing counselors provide advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, and credit issues.

In NY, 2 nationally approved housing counselors are:

  1. National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions
  2. National Urban League
However, there are many local housing counselors that can be found through this tool.

After, January 10, 2014 lenders will be required to provide a list of ten (10) housing counselors to all applicants for federally-related loans.

The list will also include this warning:
"The counseling agencies on this list are approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and they can offer independent advice about whether a particular set of mortgage loan terms is a good fit based on your objectives and circumstances, often at little or no cost to you. This list shows you several approved agencies in your area. You can find other approved counseling agencies at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) website: or by calling 1-855-411-CFPB (2372). You can also access a list of nationwide HUD-approved counseling intermediaries at”

No need to wait until January 10th - real estate professionals should start directing consumers to this list today.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Lieb School's Final 2013 Continuing Education Class is Now Open for Enrollment!

Instructor: Andrew M. Lieb, Esq., MPH

Storms strike New York more frequently with each passing year. Out of nowhere your smooth transaction might be blown apart through forces of nature. So, be prepared. An agent should know the nuances between different terms appearing within a Risk of Loss Clause in a contract of sale and how prepossession agreements change the playing field. An agent should understand the varying property insurance endorsements that are available for floods and windstorms. And, unfortunately, an agent must be prepared to guide their client’s relocation should their commercial property experience a total loss. In this instance, familiarity with Industrial Development Agencies and their tax saving function is required, especially if the client wishes a helping-hand in navigating land use regulations, construction and the varying municipal agencies that must approve a new development or rental. This course will drive real estate agent’s understanding of resiliency. The storm front is coming. 

VISIT for class details

This will be Lieb School's last CE class of 2013. 
CE classes will resume in March of 2014. 
Sign up quickly, before the class is full. 
If there are no seats left when you try to register, login to your account to join the waiting list.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Real Estate Brokerage Law: Is AirBnB engaging in the unauthorized practice of real estate brokerage?

There has been a lot said about AirBnB these days. It's been called a disruptive technology (a compliment in the technology world) as a result of its leveraging the international sharing culture in real estate, by Gigaom, Fastcompany, and Techcrunch, among others. Yet, it has also been labeled as an illegal hotel site, which doesn't sufficiently warn its customers that their participation may be illegal as a violation of local transient laws. The latter appears to be the sentiments of New York State, as evidenced by the recent subpoena issued by the state's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, seeking data on AirBnB's hosts. In response, AirBnB seems to be crafting a public relations campaign defending its business model by proposing that legislation be introduced at the state level requiring its users to pay taxes incident to their rentals. 

However, taxes and labels are neither here nor there. The real question is if AirBnB's business model is legal in the first instance, as their practice is quite similar to that of a licensed real estate brokerage in the state of New York, but without AirBnB having such licensing, according to the eAccessNY Occupational Licensing Management System......

See full published article by Andrew Lieb, Esq., MPH at the New York Real Estate Journal:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Team Name Change - Brokerage Advertising Regulations

We are continuously receiving questions if a Team needs to create a new entity under the Advertising Regulations, at 19 NYCRR 175.25, for Real Estate Brokerages, which are effective January 2, 2014.

No, a team can continue to own an old entity that does not comply with the regulations for names so long as the team does not promote or solicit related to licensed real estate activity under that name.

So, the brokers ask us - wouldn't we always promote or solicit under our name.

Well, you can simply file a Certificate of Assumed Name with New York State that does comply, operate under that Assumed Name, but continue the entity structure that has the non-complying name, which is a much less expensive and time consuming solution than establishing a new entity.

To accomplish this Assumed name, read the Instructions for Completing the Certificate of Assumed Name first, then, fill out the form, pay the appropriate fee and file.

However, the form does state: "All documents should be prepared under the guidance of
an attorney". So, if you need help, hire an attorney.

Best of luck.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Supplemental Directive 13-09 to the Making Homes Affordable Handbook will speed up the loss mitigation process

Are you sick of the unnecessarily long HAMP application process? Do you have countless loss mitigation initial packages sitting on your desk at home? Well, good news! Supplemental Directive 13-09 to the Making Homes Affordable Handbook, issued on October 18th, 2013, makes the loss mitigation process more efficient.

Under Section 2.2.2 of Chapter II of the Making Homes Affordable Handbook, “Right Party Contact” is established when the Lender successfully communicates with the borrower regarding loss mitigation options. After these options are discussed and the borrower decides to apply for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), the servicer must submit to the borrower an initial loss mitigation package that would allow the borrower to apply for HAMP. This package, at a minimum, must include the Request for Mortgage Assistance form, which asks the borrower to outline his income, expenses, assets, real estate, and reason for delinquency.  The package, however, can also include documents such as 4506-T, which grants the servicer access to the borrower’s tax returns, and the Dodd-Frank Certification form, which requires that a person is ineligible for any MHA program if that person has been convicted of felony, larceny, theft, fraud, forgery, money laundering, or tax evasion in the last ten years.

Before Supplemental Directive 13-09 was issued, if the borrower did not at least complete and submit the Request for Mortgage Assistance, the servicer had to re-submit the entire initial package to the borrower.
However, under Supplemental Directive 13-09, if the borrower submits any documents of an initial package, such as the 4506-T, RMA, or Dodd-Frank Certification, the servicer must now confirm receipt of the documents and submit an “Incomplete Information Notice.” No longer does the servicer need to re-submit the entire initial package if the borrower only completes a 4506-T.  An Incomplete Information Notice is sufficient. The only time the servicer must re-submit the initial package is when the borrower does not submit any documents whatsoever.

In Section 4.5 of Chapter II of the MHA Handbook, before Supplemental Directive 13-09 was issued, servicers confirmed receipt of initial package within 10 business days and had to make a decision regarding the borrower’s request for HAMP within 30 days. The servicer was not required to respond immediately to requests and this was one of the biggest problems when applying for HAMP or other loss mitigation options. The process dragged on and the borrower sometimes had to wait an entire month before hearing from his or her servicer regarding the loan modification application.

However, under Supplemental Directive 13-09, the servicers must now confirm receipt of the initial package within 5, not 10, business days and must also inform the borrowers at this time whether or not additional documents are needed to complete the loan modification application. This amendment to the MHA Handbook will speed up with loan modification application process. Servicers must confirm receipt of documents and inform of additional document requests within 5 business days.

Also, under the Supplemental Directive 13-09, if the application remains incomplete for a long period of time and the servicer has diligently attempted to obtain the requested documents from the borrowers, then the borrower can be deemed as ineligible for HAMP. If this happens, the servicer must submit to the borrower a “Non-Approval Notice” that informs the borrower why he or she is ineligible for HAMP at this time. This does not mean, however, that the borrower will be forever ineligible for HAMP. If there is a change in circumstances, for example, a new application for HAMP may be submitted to the servicer.

Once a complete loan modification application is submitted to the servicer, the review process begins and takes up to thirty (30) days.

Thank you to Lieb at Law's Assistant Case Manager, Jessica Vogele, for sharing this valuable information. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cracking Down on Strategic Defaulters

Do you know someone who purposely defaulted on his mortgage even though he had the ability to pay it? Perhaps this person did not want to waste his hard-earned income on mortgage payments but instead saved up for a cruise to the Bahamas. Or maybe this person owed more than he originally paid for the home and did not want to continue paying it any longer. Whatever the reason, this person is not alone. There are thousands of these “strategic defaulters” in the United States, many of whom get away with not paying deficiencies because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been lax in pursuing them.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are supposed to evaluate every defaulter’s ability to repay the past due amount on their mortgages. Even after foreclosure, these two government-sponsored enterprises and many other lenders can still go after borrowers with deficiency judgments.

However, according to the recent report from the Office of the Inspector General at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Freddie Mac did not evaluate nearly 58,000 foreclosures for deficiency collectability. That is $4.6 billion that went unchecked and could have at least partially been recovered by Freddie Mac. Thousands of strategic defaulters were set free of the past due amounts that they owed on their mortgages.

The Office of the Inspector General is rightfully horrified by these numbers and is fiercely recommending the FHFA to oversee Freddie Mac’s deficiency recovery strategies to ensure that these strategies become efficient and effective in the near future. The fact that so many have gotten away with this practice in the past few years only encourages more to do so.

No longer should strategic defaulters get away with robbery.

In a separate recent report, the Office of the Inspector General recommends the FHFA to closely oversee Fannie Mae’s deficiency recovery strategies as well. From January 2010 to June 2012, Fannie Mae did not pursue deficiencies in 29,692 foreclosures because the states’ statutes of limitation for pursuing these deficiencies had expired or were about to expire. Fannie Mae is in a better position than Freddie Mac in terms of collecting on deficient judgments, but it can still drastically improve its methods so that it can obtain deficiencies even in states with short deadlines for filing claims.

If you have a loan insured by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and you strategically defaulted on your mortgage, watch out. The two enterprises will not be lax any longer.

Thank you to Lieb at Law's Assistant Case Manager, Jessica Vogele, for sharing this valuable information. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Crowdfunding in Real Estate is Alive - Welcome GroundBreaker

On May 14, 2012 we predicted that crowdfunding would be implemented to create the next real estate tycoon.

Now, GroundBreaker has launched and the future is now. As the site states "Our real estate fundraising platform is now available to entrepreneurs of all sizes. We make it possible for you to efficiently fundraise from your extended network or the world".

So, entrepreneurs, its time to leverage the digital world to make brick and mortar rise!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tune into 88.3 FM (Peconic Broadcasting) 10/11 and 10/12 at 5:30pm - Real Life

Tune into 88.3 FM (Peconic Broadcasting) Real Life with John Christopher at 5:30pm tonight and tomorrow night. 

Andrew Lieb will be on at 5:50pm discussing the latest real estate issues facing the east end of Long Island.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Making Home Affordable Program: Supplemental Directive 13-08

Are you currently applying for a HAMP loan modification? Then good news! If you are granted a HAMP trial period or permanent loan modification on or after March 1, 2014, you may have access to free financial counseling from your servicer!

Currently, Section 6.7 of Chapter II of the MHA Handbook, only borrowers with a total debt-to-income ratio of 55 percent are required to obtain HUD-approved financial counseling when they are approved for a Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) modification. These borrowers are at high risk of defaulting because they use over half of income just to satisfy their debts and have little income left over every month. It makes sense that these high-risk borrowers are required to speak with a counselor, but under this Section of the MHA Handbook, they are the only ones required to receive such counseling.
Now, under the Supplemental Directive 13-08, servicers must offer financial counseling to borrowers who have been granted a HAMP trial period plan or permanent modification regardless of the total debt-to-income ratio. More borrowers than ever before will now have access to free financial counseling from their servicers, provided that their servicers participate in HAMP, and either have enough money for HAMP ($75 million or more) or voluntarily choose to follow Supplemental Directive 13-08. This Supplemental Directive is effective March 1, 2014 and does not apply to loans that are owned, insured, or guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Veterans Administration, the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service (RHS), or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Even so, this Supplemental Directive will apply to many mortgage loans and affect millions of people who have been approved of a HAMP trial period or HAMP permanent modification.

The purpose of the financial counseling is to ensure that the borrowers are able to successfully complete their trial period plans and afford their permanent modified payments. Even borrowers who have already received a HAMP permanent modification before March 1, 2014 can receive financial counseling if they are at a high risk of default or believe they will be at risk in the future. It is an exciting opportunity for borrowers to receive free financial counseling from their servicers and for servicers to receive consistent monthly payments from every borrower who has received a HAMP modification.

Thank you to Lieb at Law's Assistant Case Manager, Jessica Vogele, for sharing this valuable information. 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Internet of Things goes to your Lightswitch

Check out the future of light switches, bRight Switch system.

Here is what the company has to say about their product on the site:

"What if your lighting system could automatically learn what you want, turning on the lights without you having to lift a finger?

What if you could make the switch in the kitchen also turn on the light in the living room, and you didn’t have to call an electrician?

What if, wherever you are, you could plug in your phone without first hunting down the charger?

What if, instead of a wall switch, there was a full-color touch screen smart device packed that could be color coordinated with your room, provide security, intercom, wake up alarm, Internet phone and more?"

Here is a Gadgetreview article on the switch.

Remember, housing utilizing the internet of things sells.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Upcoming CE in Southampton - Divorce Deals (Free, Fun with Food!)


Instructor: Andrew M. Lieb, Esq., MPH
Location: Southampton NY
Date: 10/3/13
Advanced Enrollment Required: 

Watch out! Here comes a headache, exposure to liability and impossible commissions. Ever work with divorcing spouses before? Then you know. Good luck getting them to agree on anything from sales price to showing dates while selling their homes or commercial properties? What happens when they start asking you to write letters about how their spouse is not cooperating on the deal? Ever get a call from their lawyers? How about when you get subpoenaed to appear and testify in their Contempt Hearing? What do you do? Where do your duties lie? What can you say and which documents can you provide?
A divorce can pull everyone and everything into its grasp. This course is designed to teach real estate agents how to navigate through all of the complexities of divorce deals from properly listing the property to procuring a purchaser and receiving commission in compliance with License Law.
Learn about the Domestic Relations Law’s concept of marital property. Prepare yourself to stay above the fray, make the deal, get paid and keep the divorcing clients responsive and cooperative along the way. Good luck. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tune into 88.3 9/20 and 9/21 at 5:30pm - Realife Radio with guest Andrew Lieb

Check out 88.3 WPPB Peconic Public Broadcasting tonight and tomorrow night (9/20 and 9/21) at 5:30pm. 

Realife is hosted by John Christopher from Brown Harris Stevens. John will be interviewing Andrew Lieb concerning a multitude of issues facing Hamptonites in the real estate market. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

License Renewal FAQ: Credits and Certificates

QUESTION: Does Lieb School report my completed credits to the Department of State (DOS)? Am I responsible for sending my course certificates to the DOS?

ANSWER: Credits received from Lieb School count towards the 22.5 required from the DOS for license renewal. Certificates provided at each class serve as proof of credit hours (think of them as a receipt). After each class, Lieb School submits to the Department of State, Bureau of Educational Standards, all licensee information for successful completion of each course. Upon license renewal, the DOS will require the original signed certificates if you are selected for an audit. Make sure that you keep your certificates in a safe place. In the event of an audit, the DOS will cross reference the certificates with the student completion records received by each school. You are responsible for completing all 22.5 credits by your license renewal deadline date.

To learn more about license renewal click here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau getting into the Mortgage Modification Game

Incident to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) new mortgage rules, the Ability-to-Repay Rules, the CFPB also has created rules for delinquency notices, follow-up information for loss-mitigation, and forbearance plans. Its imperative that foreclosure defense counsel familiarize themselves with these rules prior to their effective in 2014.

The full final rule is available here.

Most interestingly is the "general ban on proceeding to foreclosure before a borrower is 120 days delinquent".

Also, important for mitigation specialists is the clear requirement that servicers provide notice of deficient document submissions incident to a modification application and an opportunity to cure. This should hopefully put an end to the days of we closed your file because we didn't get all of your documents - the fax shredder will be broken.

Mortgage Foreclosure Alert: New Making Home Affordable Program Handbook Released - Version 4.3

To access the new Handbook for MHA, inclusive of HAMP and HAFA, click here
This Handbook is the rules for banks / servicers to modify mortgages, so pay careful attention to detail and make sure that they comply.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Seats Still Available - Mortgage Mania (Free CE in Hauppauge NY)

Mortgage Mania

It's time to learn the secrets in order to qualify for a mortgage. This seminar will begin with the basics, discussing everything from the definition of a mortgage to types of mortgages. You will learn who the players are at the bank and how their respective roles impact your deal. We will discuss the differences between a prequalification and a commitment and how to close your deal smoothly under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. You will learn secrets that occur behind the scenes at the banks and how to navigate through issues with income, assets, credit scores, CO's, and open permits. This course will enable you to weed-out high-risk clients and to advise average credit score clients on structuring their applications to get approved. Let's prevent mortgage contingency clauses from killing our deals.

Hours: 3
Location: Hauppauge, NY
Date: 10/09/13
Instructor: Andrew Lieb, Esq., MPH
Price: Free + Dinner Included
Class Sponsor: Citibank



Thursday, September 05, 2013

Participating in Foreclosure Settlement Conferences prevents Default Judgment against Mortgagor

In a strikingly important decision, the Supreme Court, Kings County, faced the issue of whether a Defendant who participates in Foreclosure Settlement Conferences, but did not Answer the Complaint, can be held in Default granting the lender judgment.

The Court held:  "For the most part, caselaw is clear that, where a defendant makes an "informal appearance" within the time specified by CPLR 320(a), the defendant is not "in default," and a motion to enter judgment by default should be denied."

Practitioners and borrowers alike should read this decision and utilize it to advocate against judgments as many pro se defendants in the foreclosure arena participate in settlement conferences without formally answering.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Special 4.5 Credit CE Class in NYC (To be Green or not to be Green? That is the question...)

Next Free NYC CE Class

Course: To be Green or not to be Green? That is the question...
Instructor: Andrew Lieb, Esq., MPH
Date: 10/18/13
Location: JPMorgan Chase on 47th and Park
Credits: 4.5
Price: Free + Lunch Included

New York City is a national leader in green buildings with PlaNYC. So, like it or not, green is a staple in the NYC real estate scene for years to come. Yet, what does green really mean? Did you know that the FTC has regulated the field and restricts what you can advertise as being "green"? You see, green is not just a buzz word anymore. Real Estate agents must understand governmental Codes / Ordinances, organizational certifications, and home construction standards prior to labeling property as being green. This continuing education course will also introduce you to mortgage options for going green as well as the NY-Sun Initiative. However, the crux of this course will illustrate the various ways that buildings can go green. Learn how green matters and how to leverage it in sales.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Eating Hot - Now that's delicious

Monday, August 26, 2013

Foreclosure Requirements After 7/31/13

At the end of last month, the Governor signed into law Bill A5582-2013. This Bill added CPLR 3012-B and amended CPLR 3408. Effectively, this Bill eliminates prior rules with respect to attorneys filing the Attorney Affirmation pursuant to AO/413/11. Specifically, this Bill changes the time period for the requirement from accompanying the Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI) to accompanying the Complaint. As a result, a shadow docket can be eliminated of cases that were commenced, but cannot move to be assigned to a Judge. So, this is a great change in operations for foreclosures in this state. Additionally, it adds precise sanctions for failure at CPLR 3012-B(D) thereby taking out the guesswork for Judges that has plagued the State for the last years.


Amended CPLR 3048 now reads as follows: (a) In any residential foreclosure action involving a home loan assuch term is defined in section thirteen hundred four of the real prop-erty actions and proceedings law, in which the defendant is a residentof the property subject to foreclosure, PLAINTIFF SHALL FILE PROOF OFSERVICE WITHIN TWENTY DAYS OF SUCH SERVICE, HOWEVER SERVICE IS MADE, ANDthe court shall hold a mandatory conference within sixty days after thedate when proof of service UPON SUCH DEFENDANT RESIDENT is filed withthe county clerk, or on such adjourned date as has been agreed to by theparties, for the purpose of holding settlement discussions pertaining tothe relative rights and obligations of the parties under the mortgageloan documents, including, but not limited to determining whether theparties can reach a mutually agreeable resolution to help the defendantavoid losing his or her home, and evaluating the potential for a resol-ution in which payment schedules or amounts may be modified or otherworkout options may be agreed to, and for whatever other purposes thecourt deems appropriate.

Friday, August 23, 2013

NY STAR Registration ONLINE

Short Sales & Deeds in Lieu added to Hope LoanPort

In offering their organized and systematic portal from modifications to Deeds in Lieu and Short Sales hopefully homeowners will realize increased success.

Today, our firm received this email:

Hello Hope LoanPort Partners,
We have responded to request from portal users by adding a robust processing platform for liquidation workouts, intended to match our existing functionality for retention workouts.  Such a liquidation portal requires significant development to not only allow for short sales and deeds in lieu as workout types, but also include system availability for liquidation-specific documents, statuses, and data fields.

We released a pilot program of the liquidation case type back in the spring.  We are now proceeding with a release of the Liquidation functionality for all registered housing counselors and authorized third-party representatives.  Effective with our upcoming system release on August 30, all counselors registered with the portal will have access to submit Liquidation cases.  This functionality will be limited to those select servicers who will be accepting these cases.

Participating Servicers: Select Portfolio Services; Nationstar; M&T Bank; Caliber; LoanCare; RCS; HSBC; Ocwen; Resurgent; Bayview

When processing a Liquidations case, users will need to be familiar with the enhancements to HLP, such as:

New Case Type: Liquidation
New Case Statuses: Property Listed, Offer Tendered, Short Sale Approved, Short Sale Denied, Offer Rejected, etc. (See PDF for full list*)
New Document Types: Listing Agreement, Appraisal, BPO, etc. (See PDF for full list*)
New Data Fields: Seller Realtor Name, List Price, Closing Date, Title Company, etc. (See PDF for full list*)
*A PDF overview of all items and can be viewed from this link.

We will be issuing system Release Notes in advance of the anticipated go-live date of August 30.

If you would like to request additional training on the liquidation case type, please contact Nora Conklin, Hope LoanPort Project Coordinator, at
Samantha Sue Friedman - Director of Product Development & Delivery

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Real Deal Prematurely Pronounces the Death of the Term "Licensed Real Estate Broker"

In an August 6, 2013 article, The Real Deal conclusively proclaimed that real estate brokers, associate brokers, and salespersons no longer have to place the term "licensed" in front of their license type.  Quoting Alfred Fazio of Capuder, Fazio, Giacoia, LLP, the article reasoned that "[i]t seemed particularly redundant to require agents to use 'licensed' before real estate salesperson, real estate associate broker, or real estate broker.  In a similar example, it would be as if requiring attorneys to advertise themselves as 'licensed.'"

Not so fast my friend.  While The Real Deal's advice is sound for a large percentage of situations where a salesperson or broker would describe their license type, brokers can't do away with the requirement altogether.  A Department of State Opinion Letter can interpret statutes or regulations, and the Department of State can issue and alter regulations; however, an Opinion Letter cannot override the express language of a statute instituted by the legislature.

RPL § 441-a(3) requires real estate brokers to "conspicuously post on the outside of the building in which [their place of business] is conducted a sign of sufficient size to be readable from the sidewalk indicating the name and the business of the applicant as a licensed real estate broker, unless said office shall be located in an office, apartment or hotel building, in which event the name and words 'licensed real estate broker' shall be posted in the space provided for posting of names and occupants of the building, other than the mail box."

Where does that leave us?  The Opinion Letter relieves brokers, associate brokers, and salespersons from the duty of including the term "licensed" in their advertising and other descriptions of their license type, but it cannot eliminate the explicit requirements of RPL § 441-a(3).  Real estate brokers, associate brokers, and salespersons can rejoice in the news that their business cards and for-sale signs can be one word shorter, but the industry can't throw away with the term "licensed" completely.  If you're a broker, you still need to have the full title "Licensed Real Estate Broker" displayed on the outside of your place of business.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The President: "A Better Bargain for the Middle Class: Housing"

When the President speaks on housing, its a must to know the facts. The Fact Sheet from the President's speech on August 5, 2013 lays out the following key goals:
  1. An increase in refinancing before interest rates go up 
  2. Cutting red tape
  3. Increasing home values by fixing our broken immigration system
  4. Helping the hardest hit communities rebuild
  5. Increasing decent & affordable options for renters
Of particular interest was the President's goal to put private capital at the center of the housing finance system by stating that current "government guarantees [of] more than 80% of all mortgages through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and FHA, is unsustainable".

Friday, August 02, 2013

The Real Deal's Not So Real Deal - Bill Introduction Means Very Little (Foreign Buyer Legislation)

The Real Deal reported yesterday on proposed legislation to reform the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) in a manner that would have you believe that the Bill was destined to be law. This is a common theme with news media when they exaggerate the impact of a story to gain readership. However, The Real Deal is typically better than this and they should know better as their readership counts on them to lead the brokerage profession in New York City and beyond.

While the article does contain a great topic that should be discussed, whether there should be alien landholder disabilities in the US, The Real Deal should make clear what many know, that Bills rarely pass. In fact, accordingly to, the Bill has only a "2% chance of being enacted". So, discuss the topic, but know its not the law.

Remember, in real estate the rule is No Case, No Statute, No Talk - know the law as it governs your every move.

With respect to alien landholdings, its great that the Bill seeks to reduce restrictions on foreign investment, but remember those restrictions were created for some really good reasons in the first place. To illustrate, would you like a foreign national to own our fresh water supply; how about our trees or nuclear arsenal? What about taxes, should a foreigner be required to pay taxes and how can the Government make one accountable. To discuss these thoughts and more, stay tuned for Lieb School's real estate continuing education course, Foreign Buyers, which is coming soon.

Check out 88.3 at 5:30pm Today and Tomorrow for Real Life

Tune in today and tomorrow 8/2 and 8/3 at 5:30pm WPPB Peconic Public Broadcasting 88.3- Check out Real Life hosted by John Christopher from Brown Harris Stevens. John will be interviewing Andrew Lieb concerning a multitude of issues facing Hamptonites in the real estate market from commercial valuation to simply the new regulations requiring a bank to verify ability to repay a loan.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Smart Housing - Its the Key

In our recent push for real estate professionals to know what is out there in smart technology for the house, we direct your attention to a door lock that uses bluetooth "to let you unlock your door by touching it".

Check out a great article on NFC-powered door locks and open a door into the future.

Attempting to modify 2nd mortgage? Read Supplemental Directive 13-05

2nd Mortgage Modifications - Supplemental Directive 13-05

Treasury just issued Supplemental Directive 13-05, which addresses the scenario of "when a borrower’s first lien is modified under HAMP and the servicer of the corresponding second lien is a 2MP participant, the 2MP servicer must offer to modify or extinguish the borrower’s second lien according to a defined protocol".

Specifically, this Directive addresses the following topics:
  • Matching Second Liens to First Lien GSE Standard Modifications
  • Dodd-Frank Certification Requirement for 2MP
  • Incorporating HFA Payments into the NPV Result for HAMP Tier 2
  • Handbook Mapping Clean-Up
So, if you or your client is attempting to modify a second mortgage, read this directive as its the roadmap to success.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dryer with Lint Detector - Safety Solution

Monday, July 29, 2013

Last Minute Seats - Divorce Deals CE in Rockville Centre

Wednesday July 31st at 4:30pm in Rockville Centre

Divorce Deals: Selling the Marital Residence

Instructor(s): Andrew Lieb, Esq., MPH
Sponsor(s): Citibank
Credits: 3.0 CE Hours
Watch out! Here comes a headache, exposure to liability and impossible commissions. Ever work with divorcing spouses before? Then you know. Good luck getting them to agree on anything from sales price to showing dates while selling their homes or commercial properties? What happens when they start asking you to write letters about how their spouse is not cooperating on the deal? Ever get a call from their lawyers? How about when you get subpoenaed to appear and testify in their Contempt Hearing? What do you do? Where do your duties lie? What can you say and which documents can you provide?
A divorce can pull everyone and everything into its grasp. This course is designed to teach real estate agents how to navigate through all of the complexities of divorce deals from properly listing the property to procuring a purchaser and receiving commission in compliance with License Law.
Learn about the Domestic Relations Law’s concept of marital property. Prepare yourself to stay above the fray, make the deal, get paid and keep the divorcing clients responsive and cooperative along the way. Good luck. 



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Agency Disclosure Forms

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Corian Countertops that Charge your Phone - now, who wants granite?

Brought to you by DuPont, the future of housing is coming in countertops that charge.

As housing becomes more integrated into the internet of things, traditional materials will give way to those with higher functionality. In fact, companies such as Cisco see the internet of everything as the future of their business and worth billions in revenues.

So, before you replace that next countertop, think about its potential functionality beyond serving as a table top.

DuPont Corian Solid Surfaces Will Offer Wireless Charging Solutions for Smartphones and Tablets

Friday, July 19, 2013

Digital Shades - Go Green

At our continuing education course last evening I mentioned a terrific new product, not even yet on the market, by Sonte, called Sonte Film, which appeared on Kickstarter recently. This product makes smart film technology easy to install and operate, with the first ever wi-fi enabled digital shades, as demonstrated below. If you can control natural light, you can save on electricity. Enjoy...

Whether you want to enjoy your nice bath or massage with a view or you just want some alone time, the choice is yours at a touch.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

ERO Concrete Recycling Robots - So Green; So Cool

Tonight we teach our continuing education course, "To be Green or not to be Green: That is the question". In honor of the green real estate energy that I am feeling, let me share with you a terrific article about a really awesome robot. This robot will change the face of demolition by mitigating dust from traditional demolition techniques while recycling all of the rebar and concrete on-site.

Amazing ERO Concrete-Recycling Robot Can Erase Entire Buildings

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lease Clauses - by Business Insider

Business Insider has an article called 11 Clauses to Beware The Next Time You Sign a Lease that I thought was better serving to the first time landlord rather than the first time tenant. You see, so often landlords call their attorneys and say how much do you charge for a lease and my firm's standard answer is; what do you want in it as leases range from $300 to thousands and thousands?

While we could spend 3 hours educating the client, than a lease will not be affordable to most weekend warriors. Instead, its best for a landlord to think about, in English, what they want the functional relationship with their tenant to be and then to see an attorney to make it enforceable and to provide additional suggestions.

I found this article to be a great start for first time landlords to think about their tenants' rights and responsibilities before they see their attorney.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Mortgage Rules Readiness Guide - Get to know the new rules of lending

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just published its 2013 CFPB Dodd-Frank Mortgage Rules readiness Guide.

This Guide should serve as the basis for banks' / financial institutions' internal compliance system. It includes information concerning the following topics:

  1. Ability-to-Repay and Qualified Mortgage Standards (Regulation Z)
  2. Escrow Requirements under Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z)
  3. High-Cost Mortgage and Homeownership Counseling (Regulation Z) (Regulation X)
  4. Mortgage Servicing Rules (RESPA) (Regulation X) (TILA) (Regulation Z)
  5. ECOA Appraisals for Higher-Priced Mortgage Loans (Regulation B)
  6. TILA Appraisals for Higher-Priced Mortgage Loans (Regulation Z)
  7. Loan Originator Compensation Requirements (Regulation Z)
Get to know these rules as they all become effective in January of 2014. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

NYSAR's Advertising Under the New Regulations - Take the webinar

One of the finest real estate brokerage attorneys in our State, Anthony Gatto, Esq. of NYSAR, presents a free explanation on the new ad regulations that are effective January 2, 2014, which you can watch here.

Its a must watch for licensed real estate agents in New York State. Learn the new regulations by as many sources as possible as they will be enforced and you must be prepared and in compliance.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lieb School featured in Dan's Papers for Storm Front CE Class

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How does the Supreme Court's DOMA decision affect the real estate industry?

As you've surely heard, today, the U.S. Supreme Court declared critical portions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.  For those who don't know, although some states (including New York) have recognized same-sex marriage as legal, DOMA defines marriage to exist only between a man and a woman - denying same-sex couples a multitude of federal benefits and rights which heterosexual couples regularly enjoy.

In United States v. Windsor, Edith Windsor was legally married in New York to Thea Spyer but was slapped with $363,000 federal estate tax bill because she was denied use of the spousal exemption to the federal estate tax.  Today, the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA's definition of "spouse" and "marriage" as exclusively heterosexual is in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment right to equal protection.  You can read the decision here.

But why should you, purely from the point of view of a professional in the real estate industry, care about this decision?  Taxes, taxes, and more taxes.  Real estate holdings are often a couples' most valuable assets.  Left unattended, these assets can create some tax headaches down the road when it comes time to transfer title.

Estate Tax and Gift Tax Spousal Exemption

The Internal Revenue Code ("IRC") has an exemption which allows a spouse to leave their entire estate, regardless of value, to their surviving spouse - tax free.  This exemption was the genesis of Edith Windsor's lawsuit.  She was taxed on the inherited estate of her spouse because DOMA barred her from using the unlimited spousal exemption.  If you prefer to transfer your assets while alive, the IRC also provides for a gift tax exemption.  Normally, each person may only "gift" a certain amount of assets each year, and/or over the course of their lifetime.  However, if you make that gift to your spouse, there are no limits to the amount you transfer.  Now, with the Supreme Court's DOMA decision, same-sex spouses can use the same spousal exemptions that heterosexual couples have been using.

Internal Revenue Code Section 121- Primary Residence Capital Gains Exemption

IRC Section 121 expands the maximum capital gains tax exemption for the sale of a primary residence from $250,000 to $500,000 in the case of married couples filing a joint return.  Even further, this section permits the surviving spouse to claim a $500,000 exemption if the sale is made within two years of the death of their spouse.  Now, same-sex couples have access to the larger capital gains tax exemption for married couples.

Doubling and Splitting of Tax Exemptions

There are a few cases where the IRC permits married couples to double or split exemptions.  For instance, compared to a single individual, a married couple may double the amount gifted each year without reporting the gift to the IRS.  As another example, in 2013, each estate has a blanket $5.25 million exemption from taxes.  However, a surviving spouse may be able to utilize unused portions of their deceased partner's estate tax exemption to expand their own exemption to over $10 million.  With the Supreme Court's DOMA decision, same-sex couples now have more options to play with when planning their estate.

Federal Income Tax

For all the good news the DOMA decision brings, it might not be all sunshine and roses for same-sex couples in terms of tax benefits.  Filing jointly does not necessarily mean lower income tax liability, and in fact, can often lead to greater tax liability.  Every individual case is different and each couple should fully explore what effects a joint filing will have on their tax liability.


Every individual is strongly encouraged to seek the advice of a tax and/or estate planning professional if they have any questions regarding the application of these tax benefits.  Whether you are a same-sex couple eager to explore the new options available to you, or a heterosexual couple just now delving into some estate planning for your future, estate planning is an important and extremely nuanced aspect of asset management best left to professionals.  Also, if you have wrongfully been charged a tax like Edith Windsor, see your attorney asap to get a refund!!!

Storm Front CE and IDAs Post-Sandy

At last evening's continuing education course, Storm Front, I discussed Bill Number S5776-2013, which relates to permitted use of funds of an industrial development agency.

This bill, if enacted, would amend the law "to allow for the approval of Industrial Development Agency projects for property specifically used in making retail sales in areas directly impacted negatively by a natural disaster".

So, I highly suggest that local real estate agents support this Bill as it will benefit your community. At the least, take a read and understand what an IDA is and how it is applicable to your profession.

Also, at the course, I promised to provide a link to the Building Science & Rebuilding branch of FEMA's Building Code Resource, which can be located here. This is a valuable resource when rebuilding in the wake of a storm to enable a more resilient structure for the next one - as I said, we do live on an Island.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Brokerage: End of corporate titles ushers in professionalism. Check out the NYREJ for featured article...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lieb at Law is hiring! Position available for a 2013 College Graduate

Attention College Graduates! Take a Year Off Before Law School

Join a thriving law firm that leads our profession through advocacy and advice supported by cutting-edge technology and know-how.  This exciting opportunity is for a 2013 college graduate looking for valuable office and legal experience before heading to law school.  You will be exposed to real estate transactions and litigation, learn the court system and assist in cases from real estate brokerage and mortgage foreclosure litigation through matrimonial, collections and personal injury. The foundation and knowledge obtained in this position will not only get you ready for law school, but will give you an essential competitive edge before starting your legal career. 

Ideal qualities: Self-driven, organized, resourceful, assertive and dynamic. Must strive to be the best.

Prove yourself and several opportunities for advancement including law clerk positions throughout law school and beyond.  This position is full time and located in our Center Moriches office. 

To apply, email cover letter and resume to Writing sample is preferred. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Making Home Affordable Program extended to 12/31/2015

Pursuant to Supplemental Directive 13-04 of this month, the Making Home Affordable Program, including HAFA (short sales) and HAMP (mortgage mods), is extended through the end of 2015.

Additionally, Supplemental Directive 13-04 simplifies the income documentation requirements under HAMP, by modifications to the rules concerning Form 4506-T; Benefit Income; Verification of Monthly Gross Expenses; Wage or Salary Income; Self Employment Income; Rental Income; and Alimony, Separation Maintenance and Child Support.

To illustrate, now the requirement that a servicer must verify monthly gross expenses is removed and a servicer may just rely on a borrowers stated expenses. With respect to the other categories, the Supplemental Directive enables the servicer to "verify such income in accordance with the [...] documentation the servicer relies on when modifying loans held in its own portfolio..."

The extension is certainly welcomed as the foreclosure crisis is far from over. Also, these new rules are smart as they simplify an unnecessarily complex process, which has resulted in both lenders and borrowers being frozen in time when seeking to follow the rules. Instead, its expected that more decisions will be made whether to modify a loan based upon these changes.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

HUD 2012 Housing Discrimination Study: Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities

HUD just issued its study of incidence and forms of discrimination experienced by black, Hispanic, and Asian renters and homebuyers.

The study finds that "minority homeseekers are told about and shown fewer homes and apartments than whites", as a result of more than 8,000 tests conducted in 28 metropolitan areas.

Clearly discrimination still exists in housing. However, the study takes pains to explain that differing circumstances of classes of people in housing does not equal discrimination. Instead, the discrimination is only present when it causes the resulting disability in housing.

Real estate agents should read the Executive Summary, understand discrimination and be mindful to weed out such practices as we always strive to bring professionalism to our field.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Credit Score and Old Credit Cards

We are often questioned about our advice at our Mortgage Mania class that its okay to cancel old credit cards. People say - Lieb you are wrong.

Well here is a Business Insider article by John Ulzheimer of that seems to agree with us. Have a read and decide for yourselves.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Listen NYC Residents - Airbnb is Dangerous: Be warned

On November 8, 2012, we wrote a blog called Airbnb is Brilliant - NYC Housing. Therein, we said that "[a]   major barrier to their success are local laws that prohibit short term rentals in many municipalities across the Country". We also referenced NYC's rental law and said that maybe Airbnb's helping with housing in the wake of the hurricane would generate enough good will to overturn the City's minimum rental law.

It didn't.

On 5/9/13, a NYC resident was found liable for a $2,400 Civil Penalty for violating AC 28-118.3.2 as a result of renting his condominium unit (actually the rental at issue was offered by the tenant of the unit, but that is irrelevant for this discussion) to two Russian women from the 9th to the 14th of September in 2012.

NYC's minimum rental period law is designed to prevent transient guests, which is a topic that have discussed previously on quite a few occasions such as in February of 2010 and May of 2012. The thrust of the topic is that there are safety issues in permitting unregulated hotels to exist for consumers and that there are further issues for other unit owners in allowing unscreened strangers to have access in and out of their condominium and cooperative buildings. There are also many arguments that transient guests in neighborhoods greatly reduce property values.

Its important to note that the decision distinguished the violated act from simply having "house guests or lawful boarders, roomers or lodgers" who stay for less than 30 days. The decision sets forth that house guests cannot be strangers who pay for occupancy and with respect to the other terms it looks to the definition of a common household in the Code as "A common household is deemed to exist if every member of the family has access to all parts of the dwelling unit. Lack of access to all parts of the dwelling unit establishes a rebuttable presumption that no common household exists".

So, NYC residents stop using Airbnb, it advertises your illegal rentals and gives the government great evidence if they wish to prosecute. To read the decision for yourselves, click here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is Your Tattoo a License Law Violation?

In early May, a newspaper article was passed around our office which churned up more than a few laughs from the staff. New York City based Rapid Realty offers its Real Estate Agents a 15% raise in their commission split if they get a tattoo of the broker's logo. Check out the article here. Turns out, their decision to get a tattoo of Rapid Realty's logo could result in a potential License Law violation.

Lieb at Law and Lieb School have gotten their hands on the new Real Estate License Law Advertising Regulations which will take effect on January 2, 2014. Anyone with a tattoo of their broker's logo may want to pay particular attention to sections (a)(1) and (c)(1) of these new regulations.

Section (a)(1) defines an advertisement as "promotion and solicitation related to licensed real estate activity, including but not limited to, advertising via mail, telephone, website, e-mail, electronic bulletin boards, business cards, signs, billboards, and flyers."

Section (c)(1) states that any advertisement "shall indicate that the advertiser is a real estate broker or provide the name of the real estate broker or real estate brokerage and either: (i) the full address of the real estate broker or real estate brokerage or, (ii) the telephone number of the real estate broker or brokerage."

So, agents with a tattoo of your broker's logo - that tattoo just might make you a walking advertisement! Make sure your tattoo is in compliance with your license law. You have until January 2, 2014 to schedule another session at your local tattoo parlor to add your broker's name and address or telephone number to go alongside your broker's logo!

The sign off line of that May 2nd article could end up being more applicable than the author probably imagined.

"Perhaps getting permanently branded with a company logo gives a whole new meaning to the term 'walking billboard.'"