ForeclosureHelp Update: CitiGroup and Wells Pause Foreclosures; MN Passes Homeowner Bill of Rights; NY AG Updates Complaint Against BOA and Wells for Violating AG Settlement

It has been a busy week for developments related to the ongoing foreclosure crisis.

On May 17th, American Banker broke the news (“Wells, Citi Halt Most Foreclosure Sales as OCC Ratchets Up Scrutiny”)  that Wells Fargo and Citigroup were halting foreclosures in some states after receiving new guidance from their regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. (read the guidance here). According to the article, JP Morgan Chase had suspended foreclosures, but has re-started them.

While this “pause” is temporary, it does raise questions from housing advocates and homeowners who have suggested that banks and servicers are still failing to comply with new regulations around mortgage loan servicing, and dual tracking (processing a foreclosure and modification at the same time) abuses.

For example, the California Reinvestment Coalition’s latest survey (they’ve done nine since the foreclosure crisis started) of housing counselors in California found that homeowners and housing counselors are still dealing with multiple contacts at the bank, instead of the “Single Point of Contact” (SPOC) that is mandated by the recently enacted Homeowner Bill of Rights: “Over 70% of responding counselors reported that SPOC’s were “never,” “rarely,” or only “sometimes,” accessible, consistent or knowledgeable.” Read the full survey here: “Chasm Between Words and Deeds IX: Bank Violations Hurt Hardest Hit Communities

Homeowners here in San Jose and Sunnyvale, California who contact ForeclosureHelp for our free housing counseling services (the program is paid for through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and through funding from the city of Sunnyvale) have reported similar issues with their Single Points of Contact and not receiving return phone calls from them.

As HousingWire reported earlier this month, (“California Homeowner Bill of Rights blocks BofA foreclosure”), the protection against dual-tracking under the CA Homeowner Bill of Rights was recently used for a California homeowner who obtained an injunction against Bank of America foreclosing on his home. His attorney told HousingWire that he estimates the expenses for Bank of America for this case could easily hit $60,000.

Joseph Smith, who is the National Monitor for the AG Settlement, is expected to release a report shortly that will detail if and how well the banks are meeting the requirements they agreed to under the national AG settlement. Meanwhile, the Attorney General for the state of New York, Eric Schneiderman, has announced that he is revising his complaint against Wells Fargo and Bank of America for their alleged 339 servicing violations under the AG settlement. From American Banker: “ N.Y. AG Revising Foreclosure Settlement Complaint Against B of A, Wells

The common sense protections included in California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights appear popular in Minnesota, with the Minnesota Star Tribune reporting that a bill with similar protections has just passed their House of Representatives and has already passed the Minnesota Senate: “House passes Homeowners Bill of Rights

We’ll close on a positive note from Freddie Mac, which announced that its new Streamlined Modification program is immediately available for homeowners who are facing foreclosure and whose loan is owned by Freddie Mac. Through this program, servicers will send modification offers to borrowers who are at least 90 days late, but no more than 720 days late, and whose loan is at least 12 months old. The borrower will have to make three on time payments during a trial period, and then they will be offered a modification. Servicers can reduce the monthly mortgage payment by lowering the interest rate, extending the loan to 40 years, and also through forbearing principal (not the same as a principal reduction- this is more like a balloon payment ). For more information, read their press release: “Freddie Mac Announces Immediate Availability of Streamlined Modification for Delinquent Borrowers

Foreclosure Help is a coalition program funded by the city of San Jose through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and the city of Sunnyvale, and we can directly assist homeowners  and tenants in San Jose and Sunnyvale who are facing foreclosure.   However, we are unable to assist homeowners/former homeowners in other cities and states.  If you need housing counseling, we suggest using the interactive map on HUD’s website.

ForeclosureHelp partners include the Housing Trust Silicon Valley (lead agency), the Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, SurePath Financial Solutions, Project Sentinel, Asian Inc, Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, and the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

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 through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit us: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org

Our housing 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 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.

Nếu bạn là một sinh hoạt chủ sở hữu nhà ở San Jose hoặc Sunnyvale và đang đấu tranh với nợ nhà, xin vui lòng liên ForeclosureHelpSCC, một chương trình được tài trợ bởi thành phố San Jose và thành phố của Sunnyvale ở (408) -293-6000 hoặc truy cập trang web của chúng tôi: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nhân viên tư vấn của chúng tôi đã được HUD chấp thuận có thể giúp bạn đánh giá các lựa chọn của bạn, tìm hiểu thêm về các chương trình của liên bang và tiểu bang có thể giúp bạn với các vấn đề thế chấp của bạn, và sẽ giúp bạn tạo ra một kế hoạch phía trước.Xin lưu ý: Tất cả các nội dung trên Blog ForeclosureHelpSCC được cung cấp thông tin duy nhất và không nên coi là hợp pháp hoặc tư vấn thuế. Nếu bạn có bất cứ câu hỏi , xin vui lòng liên hệ với chúng tôi qua đường dây nóng: (408) -293-6000, hoặc truy cập vào trang của chúng tôi: http://www.foreclosurehelpscc.org hoặc gửi email cho chúng tôi:help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

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FAIR HOUSING AND ANTI-DISCRIMINATION POLICY

It is the policy of ForeclosureHelp not to discriminate against any person because of that person’s race, color, religious creed, sex (gender), sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status (households with children under the age of 18), source of income, disability, medical condition or age. Color or “ethnic group identification” means the possession of the racial, cultural or linguistic characteristics common to a racial, cultural or ethnic group, or the country or ethnic group from which a person or his or her forebears originated. As required by law, we agree to take the affirmative steps needed to further fair housing.

ForeclosureHelp will consider any and all requests for reasonable accommodation in the application of its rules, policies, practices, and services, and in the use of its physical structures, in accordance with the requirements of state and federal laws. You can ask ForeclosureHelp to consider any reasonable accommodation you may have. Please consult with the Program Manager (408-293-6000 or via email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org) to request this accommodation.

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March Madness: 9 Important Updates on the Independent Foreclosure Review, Short Sales, Modifications, and Foreclosures

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager at Foreclosure Help

1) Foreclosure Reviews Update: Updated information about the Independent Foreclosure Review was released on February 28th (see our previous post: “Independent Foreclosure Review: Update on $3.6 Billion in Cash Payments and $5.7 Billion in Modification Assistance”).   The Wall Street Journal reported (“Foreclosure Files Detail Error Gap”)  that statistics cited by the Office of the Comptroller Currency in January (when they stopped the reviews) about the number of foreclosure errors made by the banks painted a more favorable picture of banks and servicers than was accurate.

According to the WSJ, the OCC said in January that 6.5% of files that had been reviewed had errors that would have required compensation, but then lowered that figure to 4.2%.  However, the WSJ points out that 11% of files reviewed by Wells Fargo and 9% of Bank of America had errors that would have required compensation to homeowners. Of the 6,983 files reviewed by PNC Financial Services, 23.9% had errors that would have required compensation.   Consultants who reviewed files were quoted in the article, one suggested that she saw error rates as high as 45-80% for certain batches of loans for Wells Fargo, while another who worked on reviews for Chase said that reviewers were told to avoid loans originated by EMC Mortgage.

Yves Smith, founder of the blog Naked Capitalism, has written extensively about the many issues with the Independent Foreclosure Review.  She explains in a recent post that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), have all requested additional information from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Comptroller of the Currency, Thomas Curry, about the review process and how the decision was made to end the reviews.  Smith suggests that whistle blowers should be invited in to discuss their work, and that files should be reviewed.

2) 30 Days to Process a Short Sale?  During a HousingWire webinar, Bill Carr, VP of short sales for Chase Bank explained that they are trying to close short sales in 30 days or less.  Some housing advocates have been concerned about the proportion of “housing relief” (required under the AG settlement and the updated Independent Foreclosure Review settlement) that banks and servicers are providing through short sales instead of modifications that would keep people in their homes.  Here in the Bay Area, a flood of all-cash investors is currently pushing out other potential buyers for short-sales and regular sales.  This influx of cash from hedge funds and from foreign countries is reducing the amount of affordable housing options available for first-time home buyers in San Jose and will likely mean an overall reduction in owner-occupied homes in San Jose.

3) National Consumer Protection Week: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has written a number of helpful posts on their blog during the past week as part of a series for National Consumer Protection Week.  We’ve highlighted a few below:

4) Keep Your Home California was featured in a guest Op-Ed by Claudia Cappio, the Executive Director of the California Housing Finance Agency, which manages Keep Your Home California.  She explains: “Keep Your Home California has assisted more than 22,000 homeowners, with $260 million since February 2011. We want to help many more.”  To read the whole article, visit: Modesto Bee: “Program helps keep struggling homeowners afloat”

5) Payday Lending in Sunnyvale: The Coalition Against Payday Predators (CAPP) reported that the Sunnyvale City Council voted to authorize a study to determine if the city council should regulate payday lenders in Sunnyvale.   CAPP also summarized interesting new research on payday lending from the Pew Charitable Trust’s Small Dollar Loans Research Project.  Fact number four was especially interesting: 27% of people who have received payday loans reported that they had overdrafts in their checking accounts as a result of a payday loan trying to withdraw funds.  This statistic appears to contradict the payday loan industry’s suggestions that payday loans are cheaper than overdrafts and help people avoid overdrafts: “Pew Charitable Trusts issues its second report on payday lending”

6) Too Big to Fail = Too Big to Jail?   This phrase was recently used by Senator Elizabeth Warren during a congressional hearing where she asked regulators about the percent of cases against financial executives that had actually gone to trial.   At a separate hearing, Attorney General Eric Holder was grilled about the fact that no Wall Street executives have landed in jail (yet) as a result of the financial meltdown.  Frontline’s recent series “The Untouchables” has focused on the lack of jail-time for Wall Street executives.  The show is free to watch on Frontline’s website.

7) Language Issues in Loan Servicing: National CAPACD wrote a guest Op-Ed about the fact that recent mortgage loan servicing standards failed to address language issues for homeowners who speak languages other than English.   Jane Duong explains:

“Banks have demonstrated the capacity to meet language needs when it comes to selling financial services, like originating new mortgages or opening bank accounts. The question however is once these new customers have difficulty making their mortgage payments, are the banks meeting their customers’ mortgage servicing needs?”

The issues addressed in her guest column are especially applicable here in San Jose, Sunnyvale and the rest of the Bay Area.   Homeowners who contact us at Foreclosure Help report that they appreciate being able to speak to housing counselors who speak their language, whether it’s English, Vietnamese, or Spanish.   The counselors also help translate materials on our blog like the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights (English, Spanish, Vietnamese) which helps us get important information to more homeowners.  Read the full article here: Improving Language Access Can Prevent Foreclosures

8) 2012 “Report Card” on Programs to Reduce ForeclosuresProgress and Peril: A Status Report on the Compact for Home Opportunity” released by the Opportunity Agenda describes efforts made in 2012 to address foreclosures, restore communities affected by foreclosures and to keep homeownership accessible.   Policies/programs and their progress (or lack thereof) during the past year are addressed, including: mandatory mediation (prior to foreclosure); investing in pre-and post-purchase counseling; reforming mortgage loan servicing; using land banks to strengthen communities; improvements in credit-scoring; protecting tenants in foreclosure situations, and many more.  Read the full report: Progress and Peril: A Status Report on the Compact for Home Opportunity.

9) Slower Foreclosures for the Rich?  Marketwatch reported that some statistics suggest that homeowners in high-dollar homes are able to remain in their homes longer after they stop paying their mortgages, and may receive more favorable loan modifications.  The author cites RealtyTrac records for 2012, in which 85% of homes worth $1 million or less were eventually repossessed after receiving default notices.  However, for homes that are worth more than $1 million, only 28% were repossessed.  The article suggests that carrying costs are higher for these homes, the homes are more difficult to resell later, and when they are re-sold by the bank, it’s often at a substantial loss.  Wealthier homeowners may also be able to hire attorneys who can try to postpone the foreclosure.  Read more: “How luxury-home owners dodge foreclosure

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 us: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org

Our housing 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 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.

Nếu bạn là một sinh hoạt chủ sở hữu nhà ở San Jose hoặc Sunnyvale và đang đấu tranh với nợ nhà, xin vui lòng liên ForeclosureHelpSCC, một chương trình được tài trợ bởi thành phố San Jose và thành phố của Sunnyvale ở (408) -293-6000 hoặc truy cập trang web của chúng tôi: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nhân viên tư vấn của chúng tôi đã được HUD chấp thuận có thể giúp bạn đánh giá các lựa chọn của bạn, tìm hiểu thêm về các chương trình của liên bang và tiểu bang có thể giúp bạn với các vấn đề thế chấp của bạn, và sẽ giúp bạn tạo ra một kế hoạch phía trước.Xin lưu ý: Tất cả các nội dung trên Blog ForeclosureHelpSCC được cung cấp thông tin duy nhất và không nên coi là hợp pháp hoặc tư vấn thuế. Nếu bạn có bất cứ câu hỏi , xin vui lòng liên hệ với chúng tôi qua đường dây nóng: (408) -293-6000, hoặc truy cập vào trang của chúng tôi: http://www.foreclosurehelpscc.org hoặc gửi email cho chúng tôi:help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.