One year after the attorneys general of 49 states negotiated what became known as the “National Mortgage Settlement,” are loan servicer banks more responsive to homeowners seeking to have their mortgage loans re-structured?
The settlement included a number of servicing standards that should have been very helpful to homeowners seeking loan modifications to avoid losing their homes to foreclosure. Among those was a requirement that loan mod applications be reviewed in 30 days, a specific mandate that borrowers be assigned a single knowledgeable contact person to work with them through the review process and provisions that limit the process known as “dual-tracking” whereby banks race to complete foreclosures whilst dragging out loan mod reviews.
Here’s what the settlement promised, according to the official website.
“The banks have agreed to major reforms in how they service mortgage loans. These new servicing standards require lenders and servicers to adhere to a long list of rights for those facing foreclosure. For example, borrowers will have the right to see all of their loan documents to make sure any potential foreclosure is legal; they will be given every opportunity to first modify their loan before facing foreclosure; lenders and servicers will be required to have an appropriate number of well-trained staff members to promptly respond to the needs of distressed borrowers; and finally, borrowers will have the right to deal with a reliable, single point of contact so they have access to a person from whom to obtain information throughout the process. This is very important because, throughout the foreclosure crisis, borrowers have lodged widespread complaints about their frustrations in trying to work with their lenders.” (FAQ)
So, have the banks complied? Judging from the comments on this blog, the answer is a resounding “NO!”
Despite including a “very robust enforcement mechanism,” the settlement doesn’t seem to have significantly changed the way the big banks are working with homeowners. People seeking loan mods are still being strung along for months or years sending paperwork over and over or stuck in bogus trial modification plans that trash their credit while the money disappears. The whole “single point of contact” thing doesn’t seem to be working too well, either.
Oh, and then there are the states that stuffed their settlement $$ into the general fund so homeowners got absolutely nothing after losing their homes to lies and fraud. (Yes, the AGs were complicit in that, at least in my state.)
So, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who lost your home to a questionable foreclosure over the past few years, you might want to send your state’s attorney general a big thank-you for all his or her help in bringing to justice the perpetrators and preventing the same nonsense from going on and on.
Send me a copy of your letter and I’ll post it on the blog for our fellow foreclosed homeowners to see.
Update 4/12/13: Banks Continue to Violate Nationwide Servicer Settlement
Update 6/11/13: Well, at least Florida AG Pam Bondi has noticed: Bondi gives Wells Fargo a Wednesday deadline to respond to settlement concerns