Mortgage foreclosure settlement reached


foreclosure

Ten major mortgage servicers including Bank of AmericaJP Morgan ChaseCitigroup and Wells Fargo entered into a $8.5 billion settlement Monday with federal regulators to settle claims related to mortgage foreclosure abuses.

Under the terms of the settlement with the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), $3.3 billion will be paid by banks directly to eligible mortgage borrowers.  Over $5.2 billion in other assistance – such as loan modifications and forgiveness of deficiency judgments – will also be available.

The agreement covers 3.8 million borrowers whose homes were in foreclosure in 2009 and 2010 with participating servicers.

The other lenders participating in the settlement are AuroraMetLife BankPNCSovereign BankSunTrust and U.S. Bank.

By agreeing to the settlement, participating lenders can cease the Independent Foreclosure Review process mandated under an enforcement action entered in April 2011.

Regulators had determined that the foreclosure review process – which involved a case-by-case review of millions of loan files – was proving too expensive, time consuming and ineffective.

“When we began the Independent Foreclosure Review, the OCC pledged to fix what was broken, identify who was harmed, and compensate them for that injury,” Chief Thomas Curry of the OCC stated in a written release.  “While today’s announcement represents a significant change in direction, it meets those original objectives by ensuring that consumers are the ones who will benefit, and that they will benefit more quickly and in a more direct manner.”

Monday’s deal follows a separate $26 billion mortgage settlement entered early last year in relation to the “robo-signing” scandal.

Only $1.5 billion of that settlement was in the form of direct cash relief to 750,000 borrowers.

Eligible borrowers under the latest settlement will receive compensation whether or not they filed a request for an independent foreclosure review and mortgage borrowers do not need to take further action to be eligible for compensation.

Borrowers are expected to be contacted by the end of March with specific payment details. They will not be required to execute a waiver of any legal claims that may exist against their servicer as a condition for receiving payment.

In addition, the servicers’ internal complaint process will remain available to borrowers.

“We have learned a great deal from the reviews that have been conducted to date. However, it has become clear that carrying the process through to its conclusion would divert money away from the impacted homeowners and also needlessly delay the dispensation of compensation to affected borrowers. Our new course of action will get more money to more people more quickly, and it will speed recovery in the nation’s housing markets,” Curry concluded.

Time running out for a free mortgage foreclosure review


 

Were you involved in a mortgage foreclosure action in 2009 or 2010? If so, you may be eligible for relief through a widely ignored governmental program targeting homeowners that have lost the place they call home.

According to RealtyTrac, there were 26,412 Florida homes in some stage of foreclosure in May. That included 14,768 new filings, an 83 percent increase over last year.

Last year, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Office of Thrift Supervision announced enforcement action against 14 large residential mortgage servicers and two third-party vendors for unsafe and unsound practices related to residential mortgage servicing and foreclosure processing.

Among the sanctions received by mortgage servicers was an obligation to independently review problematic foreclosures. In an effort to reach as many Americans as possible, the government has extended the “Independent Foreclosure Review” program through September 30.

Homeowners who lost their home to foreclosure are not eligible to have it returned but may be eligible for a cash payment of up to $2,000. Affected homeowners may also be eligible to have most, if not all, of any deficiency balance waived.

There were more that 6.6 million foreclosures nationwide between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010, according to RealtyTrac. A consulting firm acting on this information and on behalf of federal bank regulators mailed almost 4.4 million letters to homeowners who may be eligible to have their foreclosures reviewed for mistakes.

Thousands of Floridians have been deemed eligible for an Independent Foreclosure Review, but have yet to make an application for relief under the program. 

The three-month extension provides not only the 14 sanctioned mortgage servicers who may have harmed homeowners more time to notify them of the federal enforcement action, but also the 13 additional mortgage servicers — who joined the program in an effort to identify impacted borrowers — an opportunity for independent foreclosure review as well.

So far, the response has been extremely disappointing.

As of May 31, the independent consultants have received 193,630 requests for review. The servicers themselves, through their own sampling, selected an additional 144,817 cases, for a total of 338,447.

Although the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency believes the number of applications will dramatically increase by the end of July, just 7.7 percent of the estimated 4.4 million homeowners believed eligible have applied for review.

“If a homeowner believes they were wrongfully injured by a foreclosure error in 2009 and 2010, they should request a review,” stated Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the OCC. “They give up no rights by requesting a review.”

To be eligible for relief, affected mortgages must have been for a homeowner’s primary residence and in active foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010.

The following mortgage servicers are participating in the Independent Foreclosure Review process:

America’s Servicing Company , 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, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo and Wilshire Credit Corporation.

The Independent Foreclosure Review should not be confused with the $25 billion national mortgage settlement recently negotiated between most of the states’ attorneys general and the big five mortgage servicers: Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC). Every state in the nation but Oklahoma is participating.

According to the government-mandated oversight website IndependentForeclosureReview.com, some primary examples of mortgage servicer mistakes that may have resulted in financial injury are:

— The mortgage balance was overstated or miscalculated at the time of foreclosure

— Foreclosure proceedings were initiated despite the fact that the homeowner was in bankruptcy, waiting to hear about a request for mortgage modification or abiding by terms of a mortgage modification

— The foreclosure proceedings coincided with active military service.

The Independent Foreclosure Review process is free and can be completed online at www.independentforeclosurereview.com or through the mail. Applications must be processed by September 30 to be eligible for review.

Homeowners in need of assistance should call 888-952-9105. In an effort to assist with the application process, the Federal Reserve has put together a short “Independent Foreclosure Review PSA” video. The video provides program details in English and in Spanish.

Foreclosures nationwide rose to over 200,000 for the first time in two months.  Georgia has the highest rate of foreclosures in the country with one in every 300 housing units, followed by Arizona, Nevada, California, Illinois and Florida.

 “Homeowners faced with a foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 should take advantage of this review,” stated Fort Lauderdale foreclosure defense attorney Carlos Reyes. “The process is free and totally without fee. Don’t let someone charge you for completing an application you can complete online in less than 30 minutes.”

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis,” a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues on AM 740 WSBR.

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Judge denies O.J. Simpson’s request to dismiss foreclosure case


Acquitted murderer, convicted felon, former actor, former sportscaster and former All-Star football player O.J. Simpson is one step closer to losing his south Florida home to foreclosure.

Attorneys for the imprisoned Simpson appeared before Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Gisela Cardonne Ely lat week on a contested motion to dismiss.  In denying relief, the court ruled that JP Morgan Chase may proceed with plans to retake the home.

In September, a JP Morgan Chase process server attempted to serve foreclosure papers at the Miami home of Simpson, located at 9450 SW 112 Street, Miami, Fla. 33176.  At that time, the process server advised the court that Simpson could not be located for personal service of process.

Having been convicted in 2008 of kidnapping and armed robbery, Simpson is currently serving a 33-year prison sentence at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada. He is not eligible for parole until 2017.

First reported by Jose Lambiet at GossipExtra.com, JP Morgan Chase initiated the foreclosure process after Simpson accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in mortgage debt on his former suburban Miami home.

The now imprisoned felon purchased the one-story house in September, 2000 taking out a $575,000 mortgage for the $522,000 home.

The 4,233 square foot home south of Miami has four bedrooms, four baths, a pool, and a guest house set on a two acre plot. In 2010, it was assessed by the Miami-Dade County property appraiser at $478,953.

According to court pleadings, Simpson now owes $724,354.15, including principal, interest, attorney’s fees and penalties.  Originated through Washington Mutual Bank, the imprisoned Simpson stopped making mortgage payments in 2010.

Though Simpson was found not guilty in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman in a Los Angeles courtroom, he was found liable in a civil action brought by the deceased’s families in 2007.

“O. J. Simpson still has options to save his home,” said Carlos Reyes, a Fort Lauderdale foreclosure defense attorney.  “Although he is securely locked away in a Nevada prison, Simpson still receives a large pension and could conceivably modify the mortgage loan.”

Simpson’s lawyer contested JP Morgan Chase’s foreclosure action calling their filing “ambiguous and vague.”  Also party to the foreclosure lawsuit was the estate of Ronald Goldman and satellite television provider DirecTv.

A spokeswoman for the Gray Robinson P.A. law firm in Miami advised that it was against their policy to comment on pending cases.

Attempts to reach Vincent McManus of Albertelli Law on behalf of J.P. Morgan Chase were unsuccessful despite two messages requesting a return call.

According to court records, Simpson recently failed to participate in a Florida Supreme Court mandated Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program aimed at saving homes to foreclosure.

JP Morgan Chase to Foreclosure Court: Process Server Cannot Find O.J. Simpson


According to Miami-Dade court records, a JP Morgan Chase process server recently attempted to serve foreclosure papers upon Simpson at his Miami home located at 9450 SW 112 Street, Miami, Fla. 33176.

Having been convicted in 2008 of kidnapping and armed robbery, Simpson is currently serving a 33-year prison sentence at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada. He is not eligible for parole until 2017.

According to Jose Lambiet at GossipExtra.com, JP Morgan Chase initiated the foreclosure process after Simpson accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in mortgage debt on his former suburban Miami home.

The now imprisoned felon purchased the one-story house in September, 2000 taking out a $575,000 mortgage for the $522,000 home.

The 4,233 square foot home south of Miami has four bedrooms, four baths, a pool, and a guest house set on a two acre plot.  In 2010, it was assessed by the Miami-Dade County property appraiser at $478,953.

According to GossipExtra.com, Simpson now owes $724,354.15, including principal, interest, attorneys fees and penalties.  Originated through Washington Mutual Bank, the imprisoned Simpson stopped making mortgage payments in 2010.

Though Simpson was found not guilty in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman in a Los Angeles courtroom, he was found liable in a civil action brought by the deceased’s families in 2007.

“Service of process at the property location is standard in a foreclosure action,” stated Carlos Reyes, a Fort Lauderdale foreclosure defense attorney.  “Unlike Casey Anthony, most of the world knows that O.J. Simpson is securely locked away in a Nevada prison.”

Simpson’s lawyer, Leonardo Starke, is contesting JP Morgan Chase’s foreclosure action calling their filing “ambiguous and vague.”  Also party to the foreclosure lawsuit is the estate of Ronald Goldman and satellite television provider DirecTv.

According to court records, Simpson recently failed to participate in a Florida Supreme Court mandated Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program aimed at saving homes to foreclosure.

To read the full story, please visit http://www.gossipextra.com.

Foreclosure Mill Settles With Florida Attorney General


Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced today a first-of-its-kind settlement against attorney Marshall C. Watson and his law firm – the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson – for alleged improprieties in the prosecution of foreclosure cases throughout Florida.  

This settlement calls for a $2 million payment and imposition of certain requirements to conduct business and is the first stemming from numerous investigations into Florida foreclosure law firms.

“We are aggressively investigating these law firms in order to protect the interests of everyone involved in foreclosure proceedings. Homeowners, lending institutions and the courts deserve to know that the law is being followed and all documentation is true and accurate,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “Anything short of total assurance of complete accuracy during such serious situations is unacceptable.”

Florida led the nation in the investigation of law firms and foreclosure mills engaged in the improper production and filing of foreclosure documents. The Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson fully cooperated with the investigation since its inception.

Half of the $2 million payment from Marshall Watson’s law firm to the Attorney General’s Office will be contributed to the Florida Bar Foundation to continue the Florida Attorney General Mortgage Foreclosure Grant Program. This grant program provides for the funding of Legal Aid attorney positions throughout Florida specifically devoted to the representation of low-income individuals facing foreclosure actions.

The investigation of the Florida Attorney General into the practices of several other Florida law firms is continuing.

To access the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, please click here: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/SKNS-8FAHED/$file/WatsonAVC.pdf