Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lender Processing to pay $121M over foreclosures - CBS News

Lender Processing to pay $121M over foreclosures - CBS News

Senate's Warren Seeks Regulator Records on Foreclosure Deal - Bloomberg

By Jesse Hamilton

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Elijah Cummings want bank regulators to produce documents to show what led them to reach settlements this month with 13 mortgage servicers for faulty foreclosures.

“It is critical that the OCC and the Federal Reserve disclose additional information about the scope of the harms found to establish confidence in the sufficiency and integrity of the settlement,” the lawmakers, both Democrats, wrote in a letter dated today to Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Thomas Curry, head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Warren and Cummings asked the regulators to turn over documents outlining how borrowers were harmed by foreclosure missteps of 2009 and 2010, as well as demographic details on the borrowers, who will get compensation from more than $9 billion in settlements with servicers including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) They are also asking for information on the performance and pay of independent consultants hired by the firms under a 2011 accord replaced by this month’s settlement.

Warren was elected in November to the Massachusetts seat once held by the late Edward M. Kennedy after setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a former special adviser to President Barack Obama.

Cummings has served in the House since 1996 and is the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The Maryland lawmaker, who criticized the agreement before it was announced, said it could allow “banks to skirt what they owe and sweep past abuses under the rug.”

Warren and Cummings asked that the documents be delivered by Feb. 22. Eric Kollig, a Fed spokesman, and Bryan Hubbard, an OCC spokesman, both declined to comment on the correspondence.

Waters Letter
Representative Maxine Waters of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, sent a similar letter to the OCC and Fed that said “many questions remain” about the regulators’ settlement ending the case-by- case review of foreclosure missteps. She requested that documents about the review process be made public and that an independent monitor be appointed for the new settlement.

The bulk of the settlement with 13 of the largest mortgage servicers will go toward mortgage assistance for current borrowers, and the remainder will provide direct cash to borrowers foreclosed on in 2009 and 2010, with as much as $125,000 paid to those hurt the worst.

Among firms ordered in 2011 to have their foreclosures reviewed, three haven’t yet settled with regulators: Ally Financial Inc. (ALLY), IndyMac Bancorp’s successor OneWest Bank FSB and EverBank Financial Corp. (EVER)

Posted by Carlos Marroquin

Monday, January 21, 2013

Single Mom Twice Wrongfully Evicted, Announcement of Federal Class Action Lawsuit Against Bank of America and Other Major Banks, Violating "Holiday Moratorium"

Single Mom Twice Wrongfully Evicted
Announcement of federal class action lawsuit filed against Bank of America and other major banks for wrongfully foreclosing/evicting on families during "Holiday Moratorium" on foreclosures

Los Angeles - B of A's lackeys, the L.A.P.D., wrongfully evicted the Corona family Friday, Jan 18th at around noon. Soledad's teenaged daughter, Victoria, was the only one home at the time and they told her she had to leave immediately. This is the SECOND time the Corona family has been evicted during the so-called "Holiday Moratorium" on foreclosures and evictions announced by major banks. The LAPD claimed they were "trespassing" in their own home. One officer allegedly said there was an arrest warrant for Soledad Corona, although they denied this later that evening.

Soly was in Orange when Victoria called in a panic, saying the L.A.P.D. was at the door to evict them. Soly immediately contacted her lawyer, Lenore Albert, who immediately called the courts and said she needed to file an injunction to stop this unlawful eviction. The courts agreed, but could not move quickly enough to prevent the L.A.P.D.'s illegal eviction action, which was intentionally carried out by B of A late on a Friday, knowing the system would move too slowly to prevent their illegal harassment of the Corona family.

Atty. Albert did manage to file a court action to be heard at the earliest possible time, which would be Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 8:30 a.m., because Monday was a holiday.

"Every holiday season since 2009, Bank of America has told the public through the press that they would not foreclose by selling homes or evicting families during the holidays. And every year, Bank of America has foreclosed on thousands of families by selling homes and evicting families during the holidays," said Albert.

"Bank of America's foreclosure practices continue to hurt families. We are now seen a trend in which banks are involving police departments in evictions and foreclosures, utilizing city resources that should go to fighting crime," says homeowner advocate Carlos MarroquĂ­n.

Henry Cisneros: The nation understimated impact of foreclosure crisis

By Susana Baumann

A former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros believes the banking sector has not done all they could in the foreclosure crisis

The debate over the real estate bubble and the consequential foreclosure wave that swept the nation has been reinstated as regulators announced an $8.5 billion bank settlement with 10 major banks led by regulators of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Adducing that the review process was too costly—an estimated $1.5 billion has been paid to consultants and third party reviewers—and it was taking too much time—the review has been ongoing for over a year. Regulators decided to stop the investigation and spread $3.3 billion among 3.8 million homeowners. The balance will help with loan modification programs to homeowners still underwater or struggling with payments.

“It is unfortunate that this settlement is about abuses that occurred in the recovery process but it is not part of the long term solution. It was a necessary step but not a great contribution to solve the problem of foreclosures,” Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, told VOXXI.

Cisneros believes the entire nation underestimated the impact of the foreclosure crisis in the overall economic recovery process not only zapping consumer confidence but also leaving homeowners threatened by foreclosures hanging from the banking and financial sector.

The crisis kept prices low in the real estate market, dragging sales and preventing new home builders from competing with those low prices. “The foreclosure was right at the front of the economic recovery and contributed greatly to the slowness and the flatness of the recovery,” Cisneros said. “Although in the last year and a half the Administration has really stepped up and launched a number of different programs, I believe the banking sector has not done all they could.”

Cisneros, like many borrowers’ advocate, sustains that banks could have done more with principal adjustment options, extensions and other approaches in refinancing mortgage loans to help those homeowners who wanted to stay in their homes but just needed some help.

“The process seems to have followed a pattern in which banks were not held accountable enough throughout this whole crisis. The Administration—from Secretary Geithner down—probably felt the turndown was so severe that they couldn’t put the banks over the cliff, but I know some people would disagree with this reason,” Cisneros stated.

Henry Cisneros’ career and impact on Latino community
As former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development—office he held between 1993 and 1997— Henry Cisneros considers that the focus should have been on the housing dimension of the crisis and not on the stimulus. “The core was the housing aspect of the crisis since the onset,” he affirmed.

During his time in office at the federal level—and throughout his life—Cisneros has been known for his tireless battle for fair housing policies and economic improvement for low-income Americans. He extended access to home loans and penalized an increasing number of lenders who discriminated against ethnic or minority borrowers by easing the process to file fair lending complaints.

Cisneros held this office during the first Clinton Administration. He had cross paths with the Clintons at the time he was Mayor of San Antonio and Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas.

“Clinton had invited me to speak at several events regarding public health clinics and strategies when he started to refine his national public health thinking, and we got to know each other,” Cisneros said.

From 1981 to 1989, Cisneros was elected for four terms as the second Hispanic Mayor of San Antonio. His time in office was dedicated to enhance the economics of the city, from reducing poverty to increasing wages and economic momentum.

Being that San Antonio is a largely Latino populated city—55 percent of its inhabitants are of Hispanic origin—Henry Cisneros campaigned among his community extensively, but once he became Mayor he had to make a practical decision. “I had to decide how much time I gave to a national Latino agenda and how much attention to being a good Mayor for all citizens in San Antonio, traditional Texans, African-Americans, Asians and Latinos equally,” he said.

His accomplishments really turned around the—at the time—tenth largest U.S. city, bringing federal and private funding to achieve economic development, revitalize downtown areas, build a 65000-seat stadium and attract companies and technology to create jobs and train skilled human resources.

San Antonio, now the seventh largest city in America, employs one of every six workers in the health care and bioscience industries, an effort Cisneros launched as Mayor. He also sought global investments mainly from Mexico and Japan to develop manufacturing and technology ventures, and extended infrastructure to integrate poor surrounding areas.

During his time, the city attracted two major players from the entertainment industry: the SeaWorld San Antonio, a 250-acre marine mammal park, aquarium and theme park; and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the famous theme park owned by Six Flags. Both projects increased tourism traffic and enhanced the hospitality industry.

But maybe his main accomplishment was to create collaborative efforts to resolve old racial and ethnic tension in the community.

“I grew up in a city that suffered from many years of discrimination and economic disparity and there was great unfairness in the city. I also grew up at the time the Civil Rights movement was sweeping the country. Dr. King, Julian Bond, Barbara Jordan, Andrew Young and other leaders were my heroes. While I was not at the forefront of the Latinos Civil Rights, I thought we could use institutions of government, business and the city to improve the agenda of voting rights, civil rights and economic opportunities for all,” he said.

“I’m glad to say that San Antonio is a very different place today, works have continued and it is a very progressive city. I’m happy to see it being led by Major Julian Castro,” Cisneros affirmed

Read more:

Posted by Carlos Marroquin

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Rules Aimed To Protect Homeowners From Foreclosure

By Les Christie

Federal officials issued new rules for mortgage servicers Thursday aimed at protecting homeowners facing foreclosure. But consumer groups say the rules don't do enough to help prevent borrowers from unnecessarily losing their homes.
Since the housing crisis began, many mortgage servicers -- which collect payments for the owner of the loan and handle things like loan modifications and foreclosures -- have been ill equipped to handle the flood of delinquent loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said.

"In too many cases, it has led to unnecessary foreclosures," said CFPB director Richard Cordray. "Our rules ensure fair treatment for all borrowers and establish strong protections for those struggling to save their homes."

Among the new rules are restrictions that prohibit servicers from foreclosing on borrowers who are seeking loan modifications and rules that require them to explore all alternatives to foreclosure. There are also guidelines for issuing clear, straightforward mortgage statements.

Yet, consumer advocates say the new rules don't go far enough.

"While the establishment of industry-wide standards is important, the failure to require meaningful loan modification protections is a retreat from current safeguards under the soon-to-expire HAMP loan modification program," the consumer rights organization said.

Requiring servicers to lower rates on loans or postpone payments would help prevent qualified borrowers from being unnecessarily foreclosed on, the organization said.

Still, the rules, which take effect in January 2014, address many of the problems borrowers face. Here's a rundown of the new requirements:

Restrictions on foreclosure proceedings while borrower seeks a mortgage modification: Referred to as "dual-tracking," servicers will no longer be able to start foreclosure proceedings on borrowers while they are actively seeking a loan modification or other alternative to foreclosure. To give borrowers time to apply for a modification, servicers cannot file the first foreclosure notice until the borrower falls at least 120 days behind on payments.

No foreclosure sales until alternatives are considered: If a borrower applies for a loan modification at least 37 days before their foreclosure auction is scheduled, the servicer must consider and respond to the request. They also must give the borrower enough time to accept an alternative to foreclosure before proceeding with the sale.

While the 37-day rule provides additional protections to borrowers in judicial foreclosure states, where courts review foreclosure cases, it does little to help those who live in non-judicial states, said Alys Cohen, a staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. Many homeowners in non-judicial states, like California and Arizona, won't know the sale date until it's too late since sales in these states are often scheduled with less than 37 days' notice.

"[T]he rules give servicers an opportunity to manipulate the system," said Cohen.

Consumer advocates also say the rules do not allow for appeals of a loan modification review when they are submitted within 90 days of a foreclosure sale. "If the data is wrong, the borrower is just out of luck," said Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending.

Consider all foreclosure alternatives: After a borrower has missed two consecutive payments, the servicer must send a written notice with examples of alternatives to foreclosure the borrower can pursue.

In addition, servicers must consider all available foreclosure alternatives as opposed to the ones that are just financially favorable to the servicer. These options may range from deferred payments to loan modifications.

Provide direct access to help: Servicers will be required to provide borrowers with easy access to employees who are dedicated and empowered to help them.

Publish clear mortgage statements: Servicers will have to break down mortgage payments by principal, interest, fees, and escrow (to pay property taxes and insurance premiums) and include the amount and due date of the next payment, recent transactions and alerts about fees.

Offer early warnings on rate hikes: For most adjustable-rate mortgages, servicers must notify borrowers about upcoming interest rate changes that will affect their payments. If the new payment is unaffordable, servicers must provide information about alternatives and counseling.

Avoid overpriced "force-placed" insurance: Mortgage borrowers are nearly always required to insure their homes but if they don't have coverage, their servicers can buy insurance for them and charge the premiums to the borrower. This "force-placed" insurance can be very expensive and the CFPB would require servicers to give advance notice and pricing information before putting clients into this coverage. If servicers buy the insurance but receive evidence that it was not needed, they must terminate it within 15 days and refund the premiums.

Credit payments and correct errors quickly: Servicers must credit a consumer's account on the date a payment arrives. They will also have 7 business days to respond to written requests from borrowers to pay off the balances of their mortgages.

Also, within 30 days, servicers must conduct an investigation and either correct an error or dispute it.

Maintain accurate, accessible documents and information: Servicers must store borrowers' information in a way that allows it to be easily accessible. They must also have policies and procedures in place to ensure that they can provide timely and accurate information to borrowers, investors, and in any foreclosure proceeding, the courts.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Occupy Fights Foreclosures Denounces Federal Reserve/Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Settlement Deal with Banks

Letting the banks "win" via federal level settlement soundly underestimates
the power and resolve of the American people

LOS ANGELES, JAN 9, 2013— Occupy Fights Foreclosures (OFF), subcommittee of Occupy LA, denounces the settlement deal announced by the OCC and Federal Reserve with 14 banks whose fraudulent foreclosures "had ridden roughshod over borrowers and the rule of law" according to Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times. The clear misapplication of justice that allowed the banks this seeming win soundly underestimates the power and resolve of the American people to see true justice is served. Occupy Fights Foreclosures joins the voices of millions of homeowners in saying this corruption and injustice cannot and will not stand.

Insiders have called the so called independent foreclosure review a "sham of a project." Banks insisted that no TV, radio, or print media be used to explain the program and its availability to former homeowners, now displaced from the homes where direct mail about the program was sent. Banks deliberately kept homeowners in the dark about their rights to the foreclosure review mandated by the courts. Only 11% of eligible homeowners had come forward as of the Dec. 31 deadline and homeowners have seen paltry compensation for losing their house via illegal means.

The independent contractors doing these foreclosure reviews were working under the banks, not the other way around. Findings were "quality controlled" by the banks who had violated the laws. A claims reviewer known as Luxtexente described in detail on Naked Capitalism that reviewers routinely found a dozen or more violations of foreclosure laws in a single file, not to mention "incompetence, immorality and poor judgment." Banks also routinely simply erased violations as the list of harm on borrowers grew. According to insider Luxtexente, "Issues of law were removed." Missed foreclosure timelines, missing documents, misapplied funds, multiple modifications … the list of violations was vast, but banks told reviewers to "ignore them."

This criminal behavior by the banks violates the very essence of trust the American people should have in our banking institutions. That the OCC and Federal Reserve would devalue and dishonor the American people by such a settlement makes a mockery of our monetary institutions. The harm caused to millions of American families is tantamount to a bank-made tsunami. Without just compensation for the rampant law-breaking of these financial institutions, there is a clear breach of faith in the American system. The OCC and the Federal Reserve's actions to sweep under the rug via a settlement the vast crimes without direct compensation to the victims underestimate the power and resolve of the American people. The unjust must be made just.

"Any victim of any crime doesn't have peace until they know the perpetrators of that crime have been brought to justice," says Carlos Marroquin, OFF activist. "There's no closure until you know the criminal has been brought to justice, you can see that with any kind of crime. We will not have closure until we see real justice for the homeowners who have had their homes stolen by criminal institutions."