Seven Reasons to Postpone the Independent Foreclosure Review

February 28, 2013 Update: New information about the amounts, administration, and timeline of the replacement for the Independent Foreclosure Review was released today.  Please read our latest post: “Independent Foreclosure Review: Update on $3.6 Billion in Cash Payments and $5.7 Billion in Modification Assistance”

January 7, 2013 Update: 
The regulators in charge of the program released information today, explaining that the Independent Foreclosure Review program is being replaced by a settlement program that will give money directly to homeowners.  A payment agent for the new program will be appointed in March 2013.  For more information, visit our blog: “Independent Foreclosure Review Program is Replaced With New Settlement”

Editor’s Note:  While we strongly encourage anybody reading this article to see if they are potentially eligible for the Independent Foreclosure Review and to apply, we remain deeply concerned with the outreach and administration of the Independent Foreclosure Review. Guides for applying: English: Independent Foreclosure Review (the deadlines is December 31, 2012- you can also call them at: 1-888-952-9105) and Spanish:La Revisión Independiente de la Ejecución Hipotecaria.”  You should also see if you’re eligible for the Foreclosure Refund (offered under the Attorney General Settlement- Deadline in California is January 18, 2013). 

While 4.3 million homeowners were in foreclosure from 2009-2010, recent estimates suggest that under 300,000 people have applied for the review, and none of those who have applied have heard about the results of their reviews.  For this reason, we have started a petition asking that the deadline be extended until two months after at least 215,000 homeowners have heard about the results of their reviews.  If you agree, please sign the petition and share with your networks, friends, family, facebook, etc: Postpone the Deadline for the Independent Foreclosure Review Until 215,000 Cases Have Been Released”

A big thank you to the investigative reporters who have followed the creation of the Independent Foreclosure Review and have asked important questions about the outreach, implementation, and conflicts of interests with the program.

1) After a year of accepting homeowner applications, we still don’t know the results: The results of the reviews, including if compensation is paid to homeowners, will not be released until AFTER the deadline has passed.   If it’s important to reach eligible homeowners and former homeowners, wouldn’t it make sense to release the results of some of the reviews for people who have already applied during the past year so that they can tell their friends, family, neighbors, communities and local newspapers about the reviews?

2) Homeowner gets $1, consultant gets $4.  One media report suggests that for every $1 a homeowner may receive as a result of the review finding that a bank/servicer improperly processed a case, a consultant may have received $4.  From American Banker’s November 1, 2012 article “Foreclosure Reviews: Exorbitant for Banks, Gold Mines for Consultants“:  “Bankruptcy filings by ResCap, the former GMAC mortgage servicer slated to be acquired by Ocwen, state that the company will pay consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers $12,500 to review each of 20,000 loans for a total cost of a quarter-billion dollars. Yet ResCap expects to pay only $35 million to $60 million to harmed homeowners.”

3) There are a lot more potentially eligible homeowners than have applied so far: A November 2012 report found that 800,000 more homeowners should have qualified for the Making Home Affordable program, and would have, if all of the banks/servicers were modifying mortgages at the same rate as the most efficient banks/servicers. (Thank you to Huffington Post for highlighting this report in their October 2012 article: “Mounting Evidence Raises Questions About Independent Foreclosure Review.”)

4) What to do if your loan was serviced by Litton or Saxon?  Both Saxon Mortgage Services and Litton Loan Servicing were also targeted by federal regulators for their sloppy work with homeowners, yet it remains unclear what homeowners should do if they were a customer of these clients.   According to Federal Reserve press releases (Saxon press release; Litton/Goldman Sachs press release), both Saxon and Litton are supposed to engage consultants to conduct reviews.  However, there is no information on the independent foreclosure review website for homeowners who had their loans serviced by these companies.

5) Banks get to appeal, but homeowners don’t: According to Propublica’s October 11 article, “Is BofA’s Foreclosure Review Really Independent? You Be the Judge” it appears that Bank of America will get to appeal decisions made by its independent reviewer, but a homeowner will not get the chance for an appeal: “The Bank of America memo also announced another change: the creation of a de facto appeals procedure for the bank. Designed in part “as a response” to Promontory deciding homeowner compensation, the bank would be adding an “Additional Information” unit, the executives wrote. The unit’s job, an employee said, is to respond when Promontory finds that a homeowner deserves compensation by producing any evidence that the bank didn’t commit the abuse or error. In contrast, homeowners who file a complaint will have no opportunity to appeal the determination of whether they deserve compensation or not.”

6) Consultants may have conflicts of interest: There have been a number of reports about conflicts of interest between the consultants hired to do the reviews and the banks that hired them.   Francine McKenna detailed these conflicts in a March 5, 2012 article in American Banker:“The Little We Know About Foreclosure Reviews Is Troubling.”  She explained: “The Deloitte partner in charge of the JPMorgan engagement, Ann Kenyon, was a partner on Deloitte’s audit of Washington Mutual. So it would not be in her interest for Deloitte’s consultants to turn up any auditing errors the firm made with that mortgage originator, particularly since Deloitte is a defendant in shareholder litigation related to Washington Mutual’s collapse.”

7) Official who led “Hustle” at Countrywide is in charge of Chase’s Foreclosure Review According to Propublica’s November 9, 2012 article “Exec Who Allegedly Enabled Fraud Runs Chase’s Effort to Compensate Foreclosure Victims” the same woman who was the Chief Operating Officer at Countrywide’s lending division which carried out the “Hustle” (Motto was “Loans move forward, never back”), is now in charge of JPMorgan Chase’s Independent Foreclosure Review.  The article explains that the “Hustle” ended up costing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over $1 billion in losses when the loans went bad.

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Joseand the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website:   Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: or send us an email:

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: Nuestros consejeros aprobados por HUD puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.

Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro o envíenos un correo electrónico:

Nancy’s Nine Rules for an Effective Relationship With Your Housing Counselor

By Nancy Rueda, Housing Counselor at Asian Inc., one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC

Trying to find assistance during a difficult time with your mortgage may be overwhelming, but there are trained housing counselors who can help you learn about your options so that you can make an informed decision. Today I’m sharing a few tips that will help you get the most out of your time with your housing counselor.

1) Take notes – At a housing counseling appointment you will learn a lot of new information about mortgage assistance programs, and what your options are if you are having trouble paying your mortgage. As part of your appointment, we will also give you a handout that explains the foreclosure timeline and process in California. It can be really helpful to take notes so that you have something to refer back to after your appointment.

2) Bring questions to the appointment: Before meeting with your housing counselor, write your questions and bring them to your appointment. That way you won’t forget any important questions or concerns you have about your mortgage.

3) Arrive on time: Housing counselors are assisting a number of homeowners at any given time. By being on time, you can ensure that you get the full time allotted for your appointment with your housing counselor.

4) Share all important information with your housing counselor. There are two really important reasons for you to make sure you’re sharing all relevant information with your housing counselor. First, similar to a doctor making a diagnosis, a housing counselor needs all information about your mortgage, financial, and income situation so that they can do a thorough analysis and make sure you’re informed about all options available to help you. If you only provide them with half the information, then you may miss out on learning about all of your mortgage options. Second, if your housing counselor is advocating on your behalf with your bank or servicer, they need to be operating with the same information that the bank or servicer has in order to be an effective advocate for you.

5) Awareness: While friends and family members may have received a loan modification, each mortgage situation is different. The banks and servicers (and in some cases, an investor who may or may not approve of a modification) all have different programs and policies. This could mean that the same bank provides two very different modifications for two houses on the same street. Or, because of investors, the bank may be allowed to modify one mortgage, but not the other.

6) Documents, documents, documents: If you are submitting a request for a loan modification, you will be asked to provide a lot of documents to your housing counselor. Housing counselors can’t submit incomplete packages to the bank or servicer. By providing all of the documents at one time, you can make your case go smoother and it will be easier for your housing counselor to submit a package to the bank. If a housing counselor has to wait on documents, it can slow them down in submitting a package to your bank or servicer. In addition, during the time your housing counselor is waiting for “late” documents, the documents you already submitted may become out of date, and you will have to submit new ones.

7) Follow up with your servicer – After your housing counselor informs you that your workout packet has been submitted to your servicer, follow up with your servicer. Do not wait for your housing counselor to remind you. It’s suggested that you follow up with them every week and make sure to write down what was discussed, the date, time, the name of the person you spoke with and their ID number on your note book. If you are giving information to the bank or servicer, it should match the information that your housing counselor submitted in the package. If circumstances change (i.e. you get an increase or decrease in pay), let your housing counselor know.

8) Keep your housing counselor updated – There will be times when your bank or servicer will contact you directly and may request additional information from you. Don’t forget to contact your housing counselor and inform them of what was discussed or what was requested from you. If you had to fax documents to your servicer, send them to your housing counselor as well, that way they are aware of what was provided to your servicer.

9) Be patient, polite and proactive – As overwhelming as this process is, housing counselors are here to assist you in learning about your options, which may include a short sale, modification, or in some cases, letting go of the home and planning a successful “exit strategy.” Regardless of which path you decide to take, it’s a “team approach” and your active participation is important. Being patient, polite, and proactive will also be helpful in communicating with your bank or servicer, since you may have to be the messenger between different departments at your bank or servicer.

Have you worked with a housing counselor before? Do you have any comments or tips you would like to share?

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website:

New Mortgage Servicing Rules Proposed- What Does it Mean for You? Part 2 of 2

By Sean Coffey, Program Manager at ForeclosureHelpSCC

In an earlier post,  we explained that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced proposed rules around loan servicing and we examined the first part of this proposal. In today’s post, we’ll examine the second part of the proposed loan servicing rules. The rules are nicknamed the “no runaround” rules, and address loan servicing issues that homeowners sometimes encounter with their mortgage loan servicers.

Under the new rules, banks or servicers will have to:

  • Credit a consumer’s account on the same date that the servicer received the payment.
  • Maintain accurate and accessible documents to minimize errors, provide oversight of any contractors and of any foreclosure attorneys working on behalf of the servicer.
  • If a homeowner notifies a servicer that they believe a mistake has been made, then the servicer would need to provide acknowledgement of the homeowner’s complaint, conduct an investigation, and respond to the homeowner in a timely manner.
  • Provide direct and ongoing access to servicer employees who have the power to assist homeowners.
  • Promptly review applications for programs that help avoid foreclosure.
  • Wait until after a review of an application is complete before moving forward on a foreclosure sale.
  • Inform homeowners when their packages are incomplete.
  • Allow homeowners to appeal certain servicer decisions.

Some of these proposed rules are similar to laws that are already on the books, for example the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act also requires banks and services to respond to homeowner’s request in a timely manner.

We have heard from several homeowners that the servicing of their loan has been transferred and in the process of transferring, the loan payments made to the first servicer aren’t being credited with the new servicer.

If this has happened to you, you may want to consider sending a qualified written request, also known as a “RESPA Request.” RESPA stands for Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Under this act, a borrower can send a letter to their lender if there is a dispute about payments or other issues related to the loan, and their servicer is required to acknowledge the request within 20 business days and must try to resolve the issue within 60 business days.

If you do send a qualified written request, it’s important that you include this sentence at the beginning of your letter:

This is a “qualified written request” pursuant to the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (section 2605(e)).

And include this sentence at the end of the letter:

I understand that under Section 6 of RESPA you are required to acknowledge my request within 20 business days and must try to resolve the issue within 60 business days.

You should send your letter through registered mail so that you have proof that your bank or servicer received it.  You can see an example of a qualified written request on the HUD website: Example Qualified Written Request.

If you would like to learn more about the proposed rules, visit the “Regulation Room”  and see how the proposed rules would affect real-life situations. You can also provides comments on any loan servicing issues you’ve had, or on the proposed legislation.
Have you encountered any loan servicing issues with your mortgage? Any suggestions you would give to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as they consider implementing these rules?

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: