Finally, Foreclosure Relief to Borrowers… But is it Enough?

At the end of February 2013, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Board came to an amended agreement with thirteen mortgage servicers. As seems to be the case with every major settlement involving mortgage servicers, there is good news and bad news to report. The good news is that borrowers who were in foreclosure during 2009 and 2010 with the included banks will receive cash payments and other relief totaling $9.3 billion. The bad news is that some people will get less than they deserve.

The included mortgage servicers are: Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, Morgan Stanley, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. The 3.8 million borrowers who were in foreclosure with one of these thirteen servicers in 2009 and 2010 are entitled to cash payments of up to $125,000. Each of these borrowers will receive a notice from the Paying Agent by the end of March 2013 with payment details. Borrowers DO NOT have to take any additional steps to receive these payments.

In order to understand the downside to this arrangement, a little background information is necessary. Prior to the amended agreement that was reached last month, the banks and the government had an agreement that was constructed in 2011. That agreement required the banks to hire independent consulting services to review foreclosures from all of 2009 and 2010, looking for signs of wrongdoing on the part of the banks. Specifically, the contractors were looking for instances where banks foreclosed when borrowers were current on payments, charged inappropriate fees, or botched loan modifications.

Ultimately, the contractors racked up over $1 billion in fees and reviewed only 104,000 of the 4 million foreclosures from 2009 and 2010. Now, though, the February settlement requires payments be made to all 3.8 million borrowers who were in foreclosure, with no regard for harm caused by bank mistakes. Thus, a person who was properly in foreclosure may receive the same payment as someone who was wrongly evicted from their home.

Borrowers who were in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 with one of the thirteen named mortgage servicers can call the Paying Agent at 1-888-952-9105 to update their contact information or to verify that they are covered by the agreement. To read more about the agreement, click here and here.

If you have any questions about the contents of this article or the foreclosure relief agreement, please contact the office at 732-752-8834.

INDEPENDENT FORECLOSURE REVIEW PROGRAM ENDS 12/31/2012

INDEPENDENT FORECLOSURE REVIEW PROCESS
EXPIRES DECEMBER 31, 2012

We are writing to remind all of our friend and clients that the deadline to file a Request for an Independent Foreclosure Review is December 31, 2012.

If you had a foreclosure in process(initiated, pending or completed) between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010; and the property securing the loan was your principal residence and the mortgage was serviced by one of the lenders identified on the following link, we urge you to request an Independent review.

Link to list of lenders who must offer the Independent Foreclosure Review is at the Federal Reserve Governors website explanation of the program, listing of lenders informative video

http://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo/independent-foreclosure-review.htm

These reviews were ordered by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in a effort to give homeowners who were unfairly treated and financially harmed by the actions of the listed banks and opportunity to make a financial recovery from the banks for the errors, misrepresentation or other deficiencies that may have occurred during the foreclosure process.

A very informative short video which further explains the program is noted above.  If you think you are eligible, we urge you to apply for a Review.

The deadline is December 31, 2012.  You can make the request over the internet.

An Independent Foreclosure Review process has been set up by Order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Additional information can be obtained from the Borrowers Quick Reference at the website below:

    http://www.occ.gov/topics/consumer-protection/foreclosure-prevention/framework-summary.html

Before you complete your application be sure to review the on the  Request for Review Help Sheet on following website:

 http://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo/files/independent-foreclosure-review-form-help-sheet.pdf

To submit an application go to:

   https://independentforeclosurereview.com/

Once again, we urge everyone who believes that they are eligible request a review.  There is no fee for the review.

You May be Eligible for Foreclosure Aid

Were you active in the foreclosure process anywhere from January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010?  If so, you may be eligible for the Independent Foreclosure Review, a program created by the federal governement between the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Office of Thrift Supervision. 

The program is designed to determine whether consumers suffered financial injury through errors, misrepresentations or other deficient practices on the part of the mortgage companies.  If eligible, you may have received a notice in the mail from your mortgage servicer but we encourage you to look at the requiremetns and proactively and seek it out on your own, or with our help.  Some of the eligibility requirements are that the mortgage must have been ACTIVE in the foreclosure process from January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.  Also, the mortgage must have been serviced by one of the following servicers:

  • America’s Servicing Co.
  • Aurora Loan Services
  • BAC Home Loans Servicing
  • Bank of America
  • Beneficial
  • Chase
  • Citibank
  • CitiFinancial
  • CitiMortgage
  • Countrywide
  • EMC
  • EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company
  • Financial Freedom
  • GMAC Mortgage
  • HFC
  • HSBC
  • IndyMac Mortgage Services
  • MetLife Bank
  • National City Mortgage
  • PNC Mortgage
  • Sovereign Bank
  • SunTrust Mortgage
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wachovia Mortgage
  • Washington Mutual (WaMu)
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
  • Wilshire Credit Corporation

If you qualify for this program, you could receive payments to remedy the financial injury you may have suffered during the foreclosure process. 

 This program is another chance to get some releif from an unfair foreclosure.   To get more information, please go to https://independentforeclosurereview.com/.   As always, if you have questions about forclsoure, bankruptcy, debt consolidation or other financial issues, please contact the Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. Law Offices at 732-752-8834.  We are here to lend an ear and help you sort through your financial and legal troubles. 

There are other programs out there, to read more, go to a few previous blog posts on HAMP and the National Mortgage Settlement.

New Mortgage Modifications on the Horizon

If you have been thinking about seeking a modification for your current mortgage, now is the time to act. Also, if you had previously sought a modification for your mortgage but were rejected, the landscape is changing and we recommend that you try again. A few new laws and other events have happened as the federal government recognizes that this mortgage crisis is too big to ignore.

In March, you may have heard of the National Mortgage Settlement, which was reached as a result of the misbehavior on the part of the 5 large mortgages servicers: JPMorgan, Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, and Wells Fargo. The outcome was a $25 billion settlement, $837 million earmarked for New Jersey, but now we are finally seeing that money impact distressed consumers. If your loan originated with the 5 institutions above and f you are in need of a loan modification now, are current on your mortgage but underwater, or if you have lost your home to foreclosure, there may be money available to you. Go to http://nationalmortgagesettlement.com for more information and to see if this is the right solution for you. You can also go to https://www.mortgageoversight.com/where-can-i-find-help/ to be directed to assistance specific to your own situation.

Another program is the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which as of Friday, June 1, 2012, has been expanded to include more distressed homeowners. HAMP is for consumers who are employed, but struggling to make their monthly mortgage payment, if eligible, homeowners are able to reduce their monthly payment. Even if you previously did not qualify for HAMP, the requirements have been expanded, so you may qualify now.

All of this information can be quite confusing for consumers. We have over 20 years of experience assisting clients with issues like this and as always, we are happy to help you navigate these new options. Please give us a call at 732-752-8834 or email us at stephengoldberg@smgpc.com. Finally, beware of scammers who are posing as representatives of these programs, make sure you use a reliable source for information for any of these programs.

UPDATE ON MORTGAGE ROBO-SIGNING ISSUES IN NEW JERSEY

When we last visited this topic the NJ Supreme Court had frozen all foreclosure sales in New Jersey and has assigned Judge Jacobson to investigate the allegations that many mortgage lenders and their attorneys had been filing inaccurate and less than truthful affidavits as part of their foreclosure papers.  There was quite an expectation that some of the bad actors would actually be punished for their wrongdoing.  It appears that the major outcome of the proceedings is that the banks and their attorneys will have to file updated and corrected affidavits on existing cases and will have to be more careful in filing new cases.  The bad guys get away again.

The Supreme Court adopted revised Court Rules to tighten the procedures to  be followed by the lenders and their attorneys to insure that the banks and their attorneys are truthful in the future, however, due to a loose end, most of the big banks have not resumed foreclosure sales.  The Supreme Court has been asked to decide if the Fair Foreclosure Notice (which must be sent by the banks to the homeowner prior to starting a foreclosure) must name the actual holder of the mortgage(as required by law) or may contain only the name of the Servicing company(as the banks have been doing).  It appears that new foreclosure cases are not being filed and that the clean-up of the existing backlog of pending foreclosure cases will not move forward until this issue is decided.

Persons currently facing foreclosure continue to get a partial reprieve due to the delay.  Sooner or later, the wheels on the foreclosure machine will start turning again.   Homeowners BEWARE!!!!!

NJ FORECLOSURE RESCUE FRAUD PREVENTION ACT

The New Jersey Legislature has finally taken action to limit the frauds which have been laid on the heads of distressed New Jersey homeowners.  The recent passage into law of the “Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act” possibly signals the end to the awful fraud to which distressed homeowners have been subjected over the last several years.

 

While these types of frauds have been around for years, the recent financial crisis and the collapse of the housing market have spawned a whole new generation of unsavory individuals engaged in this type of fraudulent activity.  Thousands of homeowners have been the victims of these frauds by so called “mortgage, foreclosure or home rescue consultants” over the last few years.    These scammers often approached distressed homeowners with promises of miraculous schemes to save their homes from foreclosure.  The scammers often took substantial up-front fees and then performed no work of any value.   In other cases the scammers convinced the homeowners to transfer the title of their home to the scammer on the promise of a “rent back and repurchase” arrangement.  The scammer would then strip any remaining equity out of the property by refinancing and making it impossible for the homeowner to ever regain possession of their property.

The new law which becomes effective in several months regulates not for profit loan modification services, sales of property by “foreclosure consultants” and the sale and leaseback scams.  The law also regulates those consultants who offer mortgage reinstatement services, mortgage modifications and promises of credit repair resulting from mortgage default.

Foreclosure consultants must now obtain a license from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.

 

 

Will the Home Mortgage Crisis ever end ??????

The financial press last week reported on two important and interesting developments in the Federal government’s response to the historic and catastrophic residential mortgage crisis. With foreclosures again on the rise, the financial press announced that the White House has floated a plan to pressure the mortgage lenders into offering reductions in principal as part of certain mortgage modifications. At the same time it is reported that the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is going to formulate a bill to try to end the Federal Governments mortgage modification programs.

The housing crisis effects all of us. There can be no national economic recovery until there is a recovery in the housing market. Even if you own a home and are paying your mortgage on-time the fact that others in your community are facing foreclosure or have already been forced out of their homes adversely effects the value of every property in the community. We all have a great stake in the health of the housing market.

The current federal efforts to rehabilitate the housing market(TARP and the administrations HAMP program, among others), have been more aimed at saving the big banks than restoring sanity to the residential real estate market. It seems to me that the only solution is to force the mortgage lenders to recognize the losses in their portfolio’s immediately. What better way that to compel them to write down the principal on underwater home mortgages.

I urge everyone who has a stake in restoring sanity to the real estate market(this is, in reality, all of us) to let the White House and Congress know that you support efforts to compel the residential real estate lenders to write-off or write-down mortgage balances which are in excess of the current value of the property. The Republicans are correct that the current Federal efforts to stabilize the residential real estate market(HAMP program) are not working, the solution is not, however, to kill the programs, but rather to review, modify and amend the programs to make them more effective in accomplishing the goal of stabilizing the values of property in the residential real estate market. Write down of underwater mortgage is the key to moving towards a solution.

Please contact the White House and the Republican leaders in Congress and let them know what you think.

Congress Blames Wall Street for the Financial Crisis

The New York Times recently reported that it has seen the report of the Congressional Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and that the Commission concludes that the crisis was entirely avoidable.   Those who the report targets as having failed to understand and act properly include the current and past federal administrations, the Federal Reserve and all of the bank regulators.  The inaction or ineptitude of these govermental entities allowed Wall Street to run wild and fulfill their wildest fantasies at the expense of the American People.

Those of us who represent consumers in bankruptcy, credit card suits and foreclosures could have saved the government a ton of money.  The culprits were obvious to us three to four years ago.

Many of the culprits, whose actions bordered on criminal, remain free and others are making a fortune “helping” the government clean-up the mess which they themselves made.  As soon as the report becomes available we will provide a link from this website.

I would urge you to contact your congressperson, however, since most of them have accepted the donations of the culprits, what good would it do??

Hearingon NJ Robosigned mortgages is postponed

Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson, PJCh, who has been selected by the NJ Chief Justice to lead the inquiry into the mortgage foreclosure mess, has entered an Order postponing the first hearing in this matter from from January 19, 2011 to February 14, 2011.   New Jersey homeowners facing foreclsoure can only hope that Judge Jacobson moves forward as quickly as possible to expose the facts in this matter.  It is alledged that many foreclosures have an continue to move forward on the basis or incorrect and inaccurate affidavits.  Although Judge Jacobson sits in Mercer County, her investigation covers all counties in New Jersey.  It is possible that Judge Jacobsonj may recommend that all foreclosures be suspended pending review of the affidavits filed.   She may also halt Sheriff Sales.

The Foreclosure Disaster Continues

RealtyTrac, the nations leading source of information on foreclosures recently released its yearend report for 2010.  The numbers tell a horrific tale for American homeowners.  Over 2.8 million homes were foreclosed and the number would probably been higher except for the slowdown caused by the “robo-signing” and “forged” document issues raised in the 4th quearter.  RealtyTrac reports that New Jersey was in the top ten states with more than 64,000 homes foreclosed.  The mortgage modification programs, including the Federal Governments HAMP program do not seem to be helping.  The continued refusal by the mortgage lenders to reduce principal for properties which are upside down or underwater is not helping solve the foreclosure crisis.  All indications are that the total number of homes foreclosed will be even greater in 2011.