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Foreclosure-claim forms on their way in mortgage settlement

About 34,000 Washington-state borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure soon will be receiving forms in the mail to claim their piece of the $25 billion national mortgage-servicer settlement.

Borrowers who had their mortgages serviced by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo and lost their homes between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011, may qualify for a one-time payment under the settlement’s terms.

Nationwide, about $1.5 billion of the settlement will go to pay about 2 million borrowers whose homes were taken through foreclosure. The average payment nationally will be $750.

“This payment is partial compensation for mortgage servicers’ illegal conduct and servicing abuses,” said state Attorney General Rob McKenna in a statement earlier this week. “It’s one part of a settlement that will bring $648 million in benefits to people struggling to hold on to their homes, including loan modifications for qualifying borrowers.”

McKenna said borrowers should return their claim forms as soon as possible, but no later than Jan. 18, 2013. Those who need help with filing a claim can contact the settlement’s administrator by calling 1-866-430-8358 or sending an email to administrator@nationalmortgagesettlement.com.

Borrowers will be mailed payments in mid-2013, McKenna said. The final amount of the payment will depend on how many eligible borrowers return their claim forms on time.

McKenna urged borrowers to be wary of scam artists and call his office if they come across one.

“Do not provide personal information or pay anyone who calls or emails claiming that they are providing settlement-related assistance,” McKenna said.

The bulk of the settlement is for giving loan modifications to borrowers who still live in their homes and owe more than the house is worth. Banks are contacting borrowers to offer them principal reductions, lower interest rates and other types of modifications, officials said.

Earlier this month, the state Attorney General’s Office announced plans to award $45 million that was allocated under the national settlement for foreclosure-relief programs. The money was awarded in three-year grants, including:

• About $13 million to the Legal Foundation of Washington for legal aid to low- and moderate-income households facing or affected by foreclosure.

• About $6.2 million for second mortgages to help delinquent borrowers get current on their first mortgage and qualify for a loan modification.

• About $3.9 million to the city of Tacoma and the Tacoma Redevelopment Authority to combat blight in neighborhoods and provide down payment assistance to buyers of foreclosed houses.

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @sbhatt

Article source: http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2019291990_mortagesettlementxml.html

Congressmen host foreclosure prevention workshop at CSM




Homeowners having trouble keeping up with their mortgage payments had a one-stop shop for foreclosure prevention Saturday at the College of Southern Maryland.

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) hosted a foreclosure prevention workshop at CSMs La Plata campus.

To residents in danger of foreclosure, Cardin said, youre not alone. Thousands of Marylanders have gone through this. Millions of Americans have gone through this, through no fault of their own.

Cardin said many homeowners found that when the housing market crashed in 2007, they were paying more for their mortgage than their houses were worth.

The workshop, he said, provided tools and resources to help residents figure out what they need to do to prevent foreclosure.

Participants heard talking points from representatives of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Home Free USA, a nonprofit homeownership achievement and financial empowerment organization.

Cardin said he was happy to see those who came out for the event, but it was equally — if not more — important to reach out to those who were not present and need help. He said many might be embarrassed to talk about such a personal situation.

There are people who are not here. … Youve got to bring them in and tell them there is help here.

Participants were able to meet confidentially with loan officers, housing counselors and attorneys about foreclosure prevention.

Sevinc Kapar and Judy Arbanil came to the workshop from Loudoun County, Va., and said they were pleased with the information and assistance they got in such a short time.

Kapar said she has been trying to figure out her mortgage situation for the past two years and has spent a lot of time in aggravating phone conversations.

She said in just five minutes at the workshop, she was able to get answers.

Im so thankful, she said.

Kapar said for the past 13 years, she was paying $2,500 a month on her mortgage and found out through the workshop she can bring it down to $1,300.

Arbanil said she also has had conversations with mortgage companies that left her frustrated, but at the workshop, she was able to talk to people in person who gave her very good information.

In his closing remarks, Hoyer said, As we continue to recover from the worst economic period since the Great Depression, a lot of good, responsible people are having a tough time making ends meet. Hoyer said he would continue to advocate for solutions to help families in Maryland and across the country.

gphillips@somdnews.com

To learn more

Free foreclosure prevention assistance is available from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Developments network of HOPE housing counselors.

Call 877-462-7555 or go to www.mdhope.org.

Article source: http://www.somdnews.com/article/20120928/NEWS/709289727/1074/congressmen-host-foreclosure-prevention-workshop-at-csm&template=southernMaryland

Congressmen host foreclosure prevention workshop at CSM




Homeowners having trouble keeping up with their mortgage payments had a one-stop shop for foreclosure prevention Saturday at the College of Southern Maryland.

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) hosted a foreclosure prevention workshop at CSMs La Plata campus.

To residents in danger of foreclosure, Cardin said, youre not alone. Thousands of Marylanders have gone through this. Millions of Americans have gone through this, through no fault of their own.

Cardin said many homeowners found that when the housing market crashed in 2007, they were paying more for their mortgage than their houses were worth.

The workshop, he said, provided tools and resources to help residents figure out what they need to do to prevent foreclosure.

Participants heard talking points from representatives of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Home Free USA, a nonprofit homeownership achievement and financial empowerment organization.

Cardin said he was happy to see those who came out for the event, but it was equally — if not more — important to reach out to those who were not present and need help. He said many might be embarrassed to talk about such a personal situation.

There are people who are not here. … Youve got to bring them in and tell them there is help here.

Participants were able to meet confidentially with loan officers, housing counselors and attorneys about foreclosure prevention.

Sevinc Kapar and Judy Arbanil came to the workshop from Loudoun County, Va., and said they were pleased with the information and assistance they got in such a short time.

Kapar said she has been trying to figure out her mortgage situation for the past two years and has spent a lot of time in aggravating phone conversations.

She said in just five minutes at the workshop, she was able to get answers.

Im so thankful, she said.

Kapar said for the past 13 years, she was paying $2,500 a month on her mortgage and found out through the workshop she can bring it down to $1,300.

Arbanil said she also has had conversations with mortgage companies that left her frustrated, but at the workshop, she was able to talk to people in person who gave her very good information.

In his closing remarks, Hoyer said, As we continue to recover from the worst economic period since the Great Depression, a lot of good, responsible people are having a tough time making ends meet. Hoyer said he would continue to advocate for solutions to help families in Maryland and across the country.

gphillips@somdnews.com

To learn more

Free foreclosure prevention assistance is available from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Developments network of HOPE housing counselors.

Call 877-462-7555 or go to www.mdhope.org.

Article source: http://www.somdnews.com/article/20120928/NEWS/709289727/1074/congressmen-host-foreclosure-prevention-workshop-at-csm&template=southernMaryland

Restraining order issued against St. Louis County to stop foreclosure …

ST. LOUS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV) – A temporary restraining order has been issued for local banks as they seek to a stop a new law in St. Louis County that would force banks to mediation with foreclosed homeowners.

The new law was schedule to go into effect Friday, the restraining order will stall the law until at the next hearing, which will be held in mid-October.

The mediation law is in place in several others states. If a homeowner has gone through the process and is on the verge of foreclosure, they can ask for a face-to-face meeting with their lender to try to find a way to work out a plan to stay in their home.

Article source: http://www.kmov.com/news/local/Local-banks-get-restraining-order-to-stop-mediation--171611171.html

Restraining order issued against St. Louis County to stop foreclosure …

ST. LOUS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV) – A temporary restraining order has been issued for local banks as they seek to a stop a new law in St. Louis County that would force banks to mediation with foreclosed homeowners.

The new law was schedule to go into effect Friday, the restraining order will stall the law until at the next hearing, which will be held in mid-October.

The mediation law is in place in several others states. If a homeowner has gone through the process and is on the verge of foreclosure, they can ask for a face-to-face meeting with their lender to try to find a way to work out a plan to stay in their home.

Article source: http://www.kmov.com/news/local/Local-banks-get-restraining-order-to-stop-mediation--171611171.html

Mamtek CEO charged with theft, securities fraud

The chief executive of a failed artificial sweetener company has been charged with theft and securities fraud in Missouri, accused of using bond revenue to avoid foreclosure on his Beverly Hills home and failing to tell the truth about the company’s troubled operations.

The charges announced Tuesday by Atty. Gen. Chris Koster cap a yearlong investigation into Bruce Cole, who was chairman and CEO of Mamtek U.S.

The company received $39 million in bonds from Moberly, Mo., and authorization for up to $17 million of state incentives to build an artificial sweetener factory in the city, which Gov. Jay Nixon said would eventually employ more than 600 people. But construction was halted on the facility after Mamtek missed a bond payment in August 2011.

“The collapse of this $39-million investment in Moberly was a tragedy for this town,” Koster said while announcing the charges in front of the chain-locked front gate of the former Mamtek facility.

Authorities say Cole directed a consultant to submit an invoice for more than $4 million to Mamtek for purported engineering-related services by a sham company called Ramwell Industrial Inc. Immediately after Mamtek received the bond revenue in July 2010, Cole allegedly instructed the company’s bookkeeper to wire $700,000 to his wife’s personal bank account. She then used part of the money to make a mortgage payment and avoid foreclosure on their Beverly Hills home, Koster said.

“Today, we have alleged that Mr. Cole deceived the city and its investors and stole at least $700,000 from the bond fund for his own personal use,” Koster said.

The investigation included assistance from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Koster suggested that additional action could be taken by the SEC, and he said his own investigation was ongoing, though he declined to say whether additional people or entities could face charges.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Tuesday that Cole had been picked up from his current home in Dana Point and was being transported to jail. Missouri court documents show that authorities requested a $500,000 bond and the surrender of Cole’s passport for fear that he posed a flight risk.

A message left at a home telephone number listed for Cole was not immediately returned Tuesday. It was not clear whether he had an attorney.

In addition to the theft charge, Cole, 65, faces four counts of securities fraud related to the bonds.

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-cole-fraud-charges-20120918,0,7757453.story

Obama Housing Plan 2012 Help Distressed Families To Save Their Homes

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Article source: http://twincities.indymedia.org/node/20240

Menendez, Lautenberg Call State Failure To Help Homeowners Avoid …

U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg, who fought for the more than $300 million in federal funding awarded to help New Jersey homeowners who lost their jobs avoid foreclosure, today called the continued failure by the State to effectively implement the HomeKeeper program “unconscionable.” In a third letter to the Director of the NJHMFA regarding their poor performance on behalf of homeowners, the Senators noted again that after two years – and increasing foreclosures — the State is dead last in the nation in implementation and called for a series of immediate measures to improve results.

“We are disappointed that despite the fact that you have had two years to implement this program and we have sent multiple letters requesting quick action, New Jersey is still dead last in the nation in implementing this program,” the Senators wrote. “In a recent study, New Jersey was found to have the second highest percentage of foreclosure inventory in the United States at 5.7%, behind only Florida. Given that fact, it is unconscionable that approximately $270 million in federal funds has been sitting unspent for two years and that New Jersey is last in the nation among the states in distributing that money.”

Menendez and Lautenberg called for the State to immediately take three specific actions:

• Speed up hiring and action on applications or give the federal funds to non-profit organizations that have the ability deliver the urgent help that New Jersey homeowners need.
• Make immediately available on their website the new criteria for temporary payment help. The State finally agreed to relax criteria, which, according to an ABC news report, have been so restrictive that nearly 2 out of 3 applications were rejected. Although the new criteria would enable more homeowners to be accepted, the State has not made that available to the public on the program website.
• Review all rejected applicants against new eligibility criteria and immediately accept those into the program who would now meet those criteria.
ABC News recently reported on the failures of the program. Click here to watch their report.

PDFs of March 31, 2011 and November 3, 2011 letters are attached.

Full text of letter:

September 25, 2012

Anthony L. Marchetta
Executive Director
New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
637 South Clinton Avenue
P.O. Box 18550
Trenton, NJ 08650

Dear Director Marchetta:

We have already written to the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency twice (on March 31, 2011 and November 3, 2011) regarding the significant delays and problems with the federally-funded but state-run NJ HomeKeeper program that is supposed to provide temporary mortgage assistance to New Jersey homeowners who lost their jobs. We are disappointed that, despite the fact that you have had two years to implement this program and we have sent multiple letters requesting quick action, New Jersey is still dead last in the nation in implementing this program.

We fought for New Jersey to be awarded more than $300 million in federal aid for this program in two installments in August and October 2010, but are extremely disappointed that NJHMFA has only drawn $22.5 million as of August 31, 2012. As a result of this bad record, New Jersey was one of only three states (along with Arizona and Georgia) to receive a formal request from the Treasury Department in May 2012 seeking an improvement plan for 2012.
We write to urge you to consider:

• Speeding up the hiring and implementation of this program so that New Jersey is first in the nation in helping unemployed homeowners, not last. In a recent study, New Jersey was found to have the second highest percentage of foreclosure inventory in the United States at 5.7%, behind only Florida. Given that fact, it is unconscionable that approximately $270 million in federal funds has been sitting unspent for two years and that New Jersey is last in the nation among the states in distributing that money. We respectfully request that if the NJHMFA is not capable of dramatically ramping up this program immediately, that the federal funds be disbursed to non-profit organizations that have the ability deliver the urgent help that New Jersey homeowners need.
• Immediately making NJHMFA’s new criteria for homeowners to qualify for the NJ HomeKeeper program publicly available on your website since the criteria currently listed there are outdated and incorrect. NJHMFA broadened the criteria this month so that not as many people will be rejected from the program, but the old criteria are still on your website, so people may not even bother to apply because they won’t realize they qualify.
• Retroactively reviewing all the previous applicants who were rejected to determine whether they would be eligible under the new broader criteria that NJHMFA just implemented. Homeowners also should not be penalized for the state’s delay in getting this program implemented, so we encourage you to take these delays into account when determining eligibility now.
This program is critical to stabilizing our neighborhoods, housing market, and broader economy. Every time a foreclosure occurs, property values of neighboring homes go down and everyone in the community is hurt. This program could prevent tens of thousands of foreclosures in New Jersey if fully implemented.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. We look forward to your response and to continuing our work together to assist struggling New Jersey homeowners.

Sincerely,

Robert Menendez Frank R. Lautenberg
United States Senator United States Senator

cc: The Honorable Governor Christopher J. Christie

Article source: http://www.paramuspost.com/article.php/20120927100529795

Madigan pledges foreclosure settlement cash to help renters

The Illinois Attorney General’s office said it would give almost $1.4 million over three years to the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing to help provide legal assistance to renters.

With the capital infusion, the group plans to expand its Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project.

The funds will come from the state’s portion of the $25 billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement announced in February with the five largest mortgage servicers. The attorney general’s office received $20 million of the national settlement, aside from the funds going directly to consumers, which Attorney General Lisa Madigan has said would be used for legal aid services.

Madigan’s office said it continues to review grant proposals from other groups.

Article source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-madigan-pledges-foreclosure-settlement-cash-to-help-renters-20120927,0,3599650.story

The Rental Alternative to Foreclosure

But such an alternative to foreclosure — variously called “deed for lease” or “mortgage to lease” — is an option for a select few. Fannie Mae introduced a rent-back program in 2009, and this year, both Bank of America and CitiMortgage announced that they would try a similar approach in a handful of markets.

The programs are basically an extension of what’s known as “deed in lieu of foreclosure.” In this process, the lender agrees not to foreclose if the homeowners simply hand over the deed to their property.

The new element is a rental option: after relinquishing the deed, homeowners who meet certain requirements may sign a lease to stay on as renters for one to three years (depending on the lender).

This alternative may be ideal for families seeking to weather the unpredictability of the foreclosure process, and who want to keep their children in the same school district, said Dean Baker, a co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Mr. Baker says he began pushing for this approach when the market first collapsed five years ago because he views it as both simpler and less politically controversial than loan modifications and write-downs. “It doesn’t cost the government anything, it doesn’t require a lot of bureaucracy, and it doesn’t raise some of the moral-hazard issues that come up with other programs,” he said.

Borrowers benefit because a deed-in-lieu looks better than a foreclosure on a credit report, and outstanding mortgage debt is forgiven.

Mr. Baker estimates that homeowners who bought at the peak of the housing bubble in the New York area could save, on average, $1,200 a month by renting instead of paying the mortgage and other related expenses.

The main problem, as with all foreclosure alternatives, is whether an applicant qualifies. As acknowledged by Andrew Wilson, a spokesman for Fannie Mae, the agency’s “Deed-for-Lease,” or D4L, option has not been widely utilized.

Applicants may not be more than 11 payments past due on their mortgage, and must be able to pay fair-market rent without spending more than 31 percent of their gross income. Properties with second mortgages are ineligible, as are properties in areas where zoning or homeowners’ associations prohibit rentals. The condition of the property is also a factor.

“I’m surprised they didn’t include a requirement that you give your firstborn,” said John Taylor, the president and chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. “They should come back with something that’s not as restrictive.”

Bank of America is offering its “Mortgage to Lease” option to only about 2,500 preselected borrowers in New York, Nevada, Arizona and California. A company spokesman would not comment on how many customers had taken part in the program.

Citi’s “Home Rental Program,” announced just last month, applies to only 500 homeowners in Arizona, California, Texas, Florida, Nevada and Georgia.

Advocates for distressed borrowers say that even those who do qualify ought to be cautious. It may be more financially beneficial to ride out the lengthy foreclosure process living in their houses free and putting money aside, rather than working out a deal to pay rent, said Craig D. Robins, a bankruptcy and foreclosure defense lawyer working in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Homeowners who really want to stay in their homes should first exhaust all possibilities for a loan modification or principal reduction, Mr. Taylor said. Consulting with a housing counselor approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development is advisable.

“A push to get people into rental should only be after all the other alternatives have been explored,” he said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/realestate/mortgages-the-rental-alternative-to-foreclosure.html