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: 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: email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.