New Details on Independent Foreclosure Review: What Banks Are Included, What banks are not

Federal Reserve Independent Foreclosure Review Information

More details are emerging about the replacement of the Independent Foreclosure Review, and we will continue to update as more information is released from the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller Currency.    We suspect that it will be several weeks before actual program details emerge, and there have been suggestions that payments to homeowners would not start until March 2013 at the earliest.  Homeowners should keep their eye on the Independent Foreclosure Review website and we suspect that more information will be posted by the end of January 2013.

1. How much is the new settlement?   $3.3 billion will be distributed in direct payments to eligible borrowers, while an additional $5.2 billion in relief will be granted through loan modifications and forgiveness of deficiency judgments.

2. How will compensation be determined?  Huffington Post (Foreclosure Review In New Settlement Leaves Homeowners In Banks’ Hands January 7, 2013) reports that banks and servicers will now look at the 4.4 million homeowners who were foreclosed on from 2009-2010 and:

broadly classify them into 11 “buckets” corresponding to the level of fraud during the foreclosure process. Borrowers with foreclosed loans that fall into the highest-priority bucket, such as foreclosures illegally conducted on U.S. troops while they were fighting overseas, will qualify for a payout of as much as $125,000. Those in the lowest-level group, such as loans with a clerical error, will qualify for at least $250.

3. What banks are included?  According to the Federal Reserve press release, participating in this new agreement “would meet the requirements of the enforcement actions that mandated that the servicers retain independent consultants to conduct an Independent Foreclosure Review.”  (In other words, this is replacing the Independent Foreclosure Review for these banks and servicers)

Aurora Loan Servicing

Bank of America

Citibank

HSBC (added January 18th)

JPMorgan Chase

MetLife Bank

PNC

Sovereign

SunTrust,

U.S. Bank

Wells Fargo

4. What banks are not included? According to the HuffingtonPost article cited earlier, these banks are not included and reviews will continue for homeowners whose loans were serviced by these companies:

Ally Financial,

EverBank,

OneWest Bank (formerly IndyMac bank)

The Federal Reserve press release states: “The agencies continue to work to reach similar agreements in principle with other servicers that are not parties to the agreement announced today, but that are also subject to enforcement actions for deficient practices in mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing.”

5. What about Litton and Saxon customers?   Jan. 16th, 2013 Update: Litton and Saxon have both agreed to conduct a process similar to the 10 banks/servicers mentioned earlier in this post, you can see a press release about their settlements here: Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have reached agreements in principle with the Federal Reserve Board to pay $557 million in cash payments and other assistance to help mortgage borrowers.

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 Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.   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: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

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: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org. 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 sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Independent Foreclosure Review Program is Replaced With New Settlement

Independent Foreclosure Review is Replaced

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

It is now official, the Independent Foreclosure Review program is being replaced with a program that will provide direct cash payments to homeowners that were foreclosed on inappropriately between 2009-2010.

According to a Federal Reserve press release: “A payment agent will be appointed to administer payments to borrowers on behalf of the servicers.  Eligible borrowers are expected to be contacted by the payment agent by the end of March with payment details.  Borrowers will not be required to execute a waiver of any legal claims they may have against their servicer as a condition for receiving payment.  In addition, the servicers’ internal complaint process will remain available to borrowers. “

Is this a success?  It’s difficult to say.  The administration of the Independent Foreclosure Review, and the outreach to eligible borrowers was roundly criticized, so this may be a better way to actually get the money to people who dealt with robo-signing issues.  For example, our program was still receiving phone calls from people after the December 31 deadline, asking how they could apply for the Independent Foreclosure Review.

Comments on our petition also highlighted the weaknesses in the outreach of the program, with one homeowner explaining that the letter she received looked like a scam letter, so she had tossed it aside until she saw a news program about the Independent Foreclosure Review the night before the deadline.

On the other hand, there is also a question about the actual amount of compensation that homeowners will receive.  Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times (“Surprise, Surprise, the Banks Win” January 5, 2013) suggests that depending on the number of people who receive the compensation, this may not be as beneficial to individual homeowners as the money they could have received from the Independent Foreclosure Review:

Some back-of-the-envelope arithmetic on this deal is your first clue that it is another gift to the banks. It’s not clear which borrowers will receive what money, but divvying up $3.75 billion among millions of people doesn’t amount to much per person. If, say, half of the 4.4 million borrowers were subject to foreclosure abuses, they would each receive less than $2,000, on average. If 10 percent of the 4.4 million were harmed, each would get roughly $8,500.

This is a far cry from the possible penalties outlined last year by the federal regulators requiring these reviews. For instance, regulators said that if a bank had foreclosed while a borrower was making payments under a loan modification, it might have to pay $15,000 and rescind the foreclosure. And if it couldn’t be rescinded because the house had been sold, the bank could have had to pay the borrower $125,000 and any accrued equity.

As a reminder, a study released in November 2012, found that 800,000 more homeowners should have qualified for the HAMP program, except that a few large banks and servicers were not modifying mortgages at the same rate as their more efficient peers.

ForeclosureHelp will continue to post information on our blog as we receive updates, but as of right now, it looks like March 2013 will be one of the big dates with this new settlement, when a payment agent will be appointed.

We are also hopeful that information for homeowners who had their loans serviced by Litton Loan Servicing and Saxon Mortgage will soon be posted to the Independent Foreclosure Review website.

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: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.   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: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

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: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org. 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 sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Postpone The Independent Foreclosure Review Deadline Until After 215,000 Reviews Have Been Released

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The ForeclosureHelpSCC Consortium is sponsoring a petition on Change.org, requesting that the deadline for the Independent Foreclosure Review is postponed past the current deadline of December 31, 2012.  ForeclosureHelpSCC is requesting the regulators to postpone the deadline until two months after at least 215,000 homeowners have been informed about the results of their review.  This represents only five percent of the 4.3 million homeowners who were in foreclosure from 2009-2010.

For context, a report released in November found that 800,000 more homeowners should have received modifications under the Making Home Affordable program but did not because of a few large servicers who modified loans at a much lower rate than  their peers.

The Independent Foreclosure Review was created after three regulators (the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision) conducted reviews at 14 large banks and servicers and found: “critical weaknesses in servicers’ foreclosure governance processes, foreclosure document preparation processes, and oversight and monitoring of third-party vendors, including foreclosure attorneys.

ForeclosureHelpSCC is asking regulators to extend the deadline because we are concerned that not enough homeowners have learned about the program and applied for it.  Beyond the weaknesses in the marketing plan and outreach highlighted by the GAO in a report earlier this year, we are also concerned that the results of the reviews (for homeowners who have already applied) have not been released.  We believe that releasing the results would be a powerful way to create word-of-mouth marketing about the program for homeowners who were harmed by their bank or servicers and who could be eligible to receive compensation as a result.

To sign the petition, click on this link: “Postpone the Deadline for the Independent Foreclosure Review Until 215,000 Cases Have Been Released”

To learn more about eligibility for the Independent Foreclosure Review, visit this website: www.independentforeclosurereview.com or call: call 1-888-952-9105.

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 Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.  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: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

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: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org. 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 sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

California Foreclosure Refund Program, Part of the Attorney General Settlement

By JoAnn Parrott, Housing Counselor at Project Sentinel, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC.

Today’s Post is about the Foreclosure Refund Program, part of the national Attorneys General Mortgage Settlement.

 What is the Foreclosure Refund Settlement program?    
The foreclosure refund program is one of three parts of the national attorneys general settlement with the five largest banks.  As part of this $25 billion settlement, approximately $1.5 billion has been earmarked for the foreclosure refunds.   The five banks (Chase, Ally/GMAC, Bank of America/Countrywide, Citibank, and Wells Fargo/Wachovia) agreed to compensate homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosure inappropriately between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011.

The remaining money is being used to provide up to $3 billion (nationally) in refinancing for homeowners who are underwater.  In addition, up to $17 billion is being used for modifications (including principal reductions), short sales, and monetary assistance for homeowners who are transitioning out of their homes.

Is my lender part of the Settlement program?  The participating lenders are Ally/GMAC (800-766-4622), Bank of America/Countrywide (877-488-7814), Citibank (866-272-4749), JPMorgan Chase (866-372-6901) and Wells Fargo/Wachovia (800-288-3212).

Am I eligible to apply?  YES – Regardless of the circumstances you are currently experiencing or have experienced in the past, if your lender is participating in the program, you can apply.

How do I apply?  For the foreclosure refund program, you may receive a claim form as well as general information regarding the program from the National Settlement Administrator.  Kamala D Harris, California’s Attorney General, explained in a press release that letters are being mailed directly to 432,584 California homeowners between September 24 and October 12, 2012 about the foreclosure refund.  If you believe that you are eligible for the foreclosure refund but did not receive a form, you can call the National Mortgage Settlement Administrator at 1-866-430-8358, Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

Once you receive the letter in the mail, you will need to complete the form and mail it back, or you can also fill it out online (but you’ll need the claim number from the letter you received, so don’t throw it away).  More instructions are on the National Mortgage Settlement website. 

For the other two parts of the settlement (refinancing and loan modifications), you can contact your lender directly to ask about your eligibility and the bank’s timeline for implementing these options.

How long do I have to apply?  The deadline for submitting a claim for the foreclosure refund is January 18, 2013.

What if I don’t get a letter?  If you don’t receive a letter by October 31, 2012 or if you have a different address now, contact the National Settlement Administrator at 866-430-8358 (M- F from 5am-5pm PST) or send an e-mail with your current mailing address to administrator@nationalmortgagesettlement.com.

Do I need to hire somebody to help me apply?  NO – The claim form is easy to complete.  If you have questions, call 1-866-430-8358 (M-F from 5am-5pm PST) for help or send questions via email to: administrator@nationalmortgagesettlement.com.

What if I’m contacted by an agency that wants to help me?  Be aware of possible settlement-related scams.  Do not provide personal or financial information or pay money to anyone who claims to provide settlement-related assistance.  If you believe someone is conducting a scam, contact the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry Unit at http://oag.ca.gov/consumers/general.

What do I have to prove with my claim?   Once you are qualified, you do not need to prove financial harm to receive a payment nor do you give up your right to pursue legal action against the lender.

If you want, you can also apply for the Independent Foreclosure Review Process.  It is a settlement with other regulators and 14 banks and servicers based on robo-signing issues that occurred between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.  The Independent Foreclosure Review deadline is soon: December 31, 2012.  More information on this program is available at our blog post about the Independent Foreclosure Review  (scroll down to the bottom of the post) or on the Independent Foreclosure Review website.

How much money will I get?  The amount of your refund depends on the total number of homeowners who decide to participate.  The estimated number of participants nationally is approximately 2 million people.

When will I get my money if I am eligible?  Payment checks are expected to be mailed to eligible participants in mid-2013.

What if I still own my property but need help paying the mortgage?  Contact your lender or a HUD-approved counseling agency to discuss your options.   To locate a HUD agency, call 800-569-4287.

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: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.  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: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.