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Categorized | Business, Nation

AG: $25 Billion Mortgage Settlement Finalized

HARTFORD – Attorney General George Jepsen on Tuesday said Connecticut consumers will soon benefit from direct mortgage relief and new mortgage servicing standards under terms of the $25 billion national settlement agreement with the five largest mortgage servicers.

Consent judgments with Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Company, Citigroup Inc., and Ally Financial Inc (formerly GMAC), were approved last week and entered Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, finalizing the national settlement announced Feb. 9.

The state’s share of the settlement is $190 million.

•             Connecticut borrowers will receive an estimated $119 million in benefits from loan modifications and other direct relief.

•             The estimated 7,500 Connecticut borrowers who lost their home to foreclosure from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2011 and suffered servicing abuse qualify for an estimated $1,500 cash payment.

•             The value of refinanced loans to Connecticut’s underwater borrowers would be an estimated $36 million.

•             The state will receive a direct payment estimated at $27 million to help pay for local foreclosure prevention programs, such as the Connecticut Department of Banking’s foreclosure prevention hotline, HUD-approved housing counselors, the Judicial Branch’s foreclosure mediation program, nonprofit legal aid groups that help homeowners facing foreclosure, and loan modification programs supported by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.

Some Connecticut borrowers have received principal reduction loan modification offers from the servicers, Jepsen said. While many more are expected to benefit, he cautioned that not everyone will qualify. The mortgage servicers are required to complete 75 percent of their consumer relief obligations within two years and 100 percent within three years.

Jepsen urged borrowers whose loans are owned by the five servicers, to contact them directly at the following numbers for more information about the assistance programs and whether they qualify for help: Bank of America: 1-877-488-7814; Citigroup: 1-866-272-4749; Chase: 1-866-372-6901; Ally/GMAC: 1-800-766-4622; Wells Fargo: 1-800-288-3212.

In addition, the five mortgage servicers are subject to extensive new servicing standards, which take effect over the next two to six months. These new standards will stop many past foreclosure abuses, such as robo-signing, improper documentation and lost paperwork. They will also require strict oversight of foreclosure processing, including by third-party vendors; restrict banks from foreclosing while the homeowner is being considered for a loan modification and make foreclosure a last resort, by requiring servicers to evaluate homeowners for other loan mitigation options first.

The new standards also establish procedures and timelines for reviewing loan modification applications, and give homeowners the right to appeal denials. They also require the servicers to provide a single point of contact for borrowers seeking information about their loans and adequate staff to handle calls.

Independent settlement monitor Joseph A. Smith, Jr. will oversee the terms of the agreement and prepare quarterly compliance reviews. Jepsen will serve on the monitoring committee of state attorneys general, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will work with the monitor to ensure the servicers fulfill their obligations under the settlement.

While only borrowers whose loans are owned by one of the five servicers are eligible for modifications under the settlement, Jepsen urged anyone who has fallen behind on their mortgage loan or who is anticipating difficulty making their payments to contact the Connecticut Department of Banking Foreclosure Assistance Hotline at 1-877-472-8313 for foreclosure-related and general loan-modification questions.

Assistant Attorneys General Joseph Chambers and Matthew Budzik, head of the finance department, are assisting the Attorney General in this effort.

For more information, see www.NationalForeclosureSettlement.comwww.MortgageOversight.comwww.ct.gov/ag;www.HUD.gov

Email us: editor@thehartfordguardian.com
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