Thursday, February 9, 2012

$25B Settlement on Foreclosure Abuses

Today, federal officials announced a $25 billion settlement with the five largest mortgage lenders over foreclosure abuses. The deal requires the banks to reduce some loans, send out small checks to foreclosed folks, and refinance mortgages for underwater borrowers. Its being billed as the largest settlement involving a single industry since big tobacco in the late '90s. Under the agreement, which was reportedly negotiated for 16 months, B of A, Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally will reduce loans for nearly a million households. They will also send checks for two grand to about 750,000 Americans who were improperly foreclosed upon. All but one state agreed to the deal-- Oklahoma, whose AG opposed the deal. Lenders that violate the deal could face $1 million penalties per violation and up to $5 million for repeat violators. Interestingly, homeowners can still sue lenders in civil court on their own, and federal and state authorities can pursue criminal charges. The settlement only applies to privately held mortgages issued from 2008 through 2011. Loans owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are not impacted by this settlement. See news item from Fox here-- and website for the public here--