Julie Schmit, USA TODAY5:44p.m. EDT April 9, 2013
(Photo: Don Ryan, AP)
More than 4 million borrowers in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 eligible
Settlement involves 13 leading mortgage servicers
First wave of 1.4 million checks to go out Friday
Checks for millions of mortgage borrowers are almost in the mail as a result of a federal settlement about foreclosure abuses, but they won't be very big in most cases.
Payments to 4.2 million mortgage borrowers are scheduled to begin Friday under an agreement reached this year between banking regulators and 13 companies that service home loans.
The agreement emerged from the government's investigation of the so-called robo-signing scandal, in which mortgage servicers sometimes pursued foreclosures without properly prepared documents.
The settlement provides $3.6 billion in cash payments to borrowers whose primary homes were in any stage of foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 and whose mortgages were serviced by one of the companies.
The payments will range from $300 to $125,000, depending on how much harm a borrower potentially suffered as a result of actions by the mortgage servicer.
The largest number of borrowers will get $300, according to data released Tuesday by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Those borrowers include more than 900,000 who had a loan modification request approved but still ended up in foreclosure. They also include more than 800,000 whose servicers did not engage in a loan modification or other help, and another 500,000 in an "other" category.
Regulators set up 12 levels of potential harm. Servicers slotted borrowers into the ones most applicable. Those decisions were checked by regulators, says OCC spokesman Bryan Hubbard.
The borrowers who'll get $125,000 payments include 1,082 borrowers who lost homes to foreclosure even though they were protected because of their military service, and 53 borrowers who lost homes to foreclosure even though they weren't in default on the loan, the OCC says.
Those borrowers may also get payments to cover lost equity.
Almost 1,000 people lost homes to foreclosure even though they'd successfully completed a trial loan-modification plan, the data show. They'll get $25,000 to $50,000.
Another 763 will receive $62,500 because of completed foreclosures, even though they were protected by bankruptcy laws. Those borrowers had earlier requested a review of their cases.
A far larger group, 5,075, also lost homes to foreclosure while protected by bankruptcy laws. They'll get $31,250.
In most cases, borrowers who requested a review of their foreclosure cases will get higher payments than those who didn't.
The federal settlement initially called for borrowers to request reviews and for servicers to go over each one. That process was scrapped because it was too slow and costly, leading to the new settlement.
Regulators had earlier said that those who requested a review would likely get larger compensation than those who didn't. Consumer advocates question whether that's fair, given their concerns that the initial outreach was poorly done, says Alys Cohen of the National Consumer Law Center.
Overall, "most people will get a fraction of the amount they should get," she says.
The companies covered by the settlement are Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, Morgan Stanley, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.
The first wave of 1.4 million checks to borrowers of 11 of the servicers will go out Friday. The final wave is expected in mid-July. The timing of payments to about 250,000 borrowers whose mortgages were serviced by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley is still to be determined.
In most cases, borrowers will receive a letter with an enclosed check sent by Rust Consulting, which is an agent hired to handle the payments. Some borrowers may receive letters from Rust seeking more information to process their payments. Last month, Rust sent postcards to the 4.2 million borrowers notifying them of their eligibility.
Three companies did not join the new settlement. Their individual case reviews are ongoing and number 450,000. Those companies are OneWest, EverBank and GMAC Mortgage.
Rust is sending all payments and correspondence regarding the foreclosure agreement at the direction of the OCC and the Federal Reserve.
Borrowers can call Rust at 888-952-9105 to update their contact information or to verify that they are covered by the agreement.
Accepting a payment will not prevent borrowers from taking further legal action.
Thanks to: http://www.usatoday.com/