Independent Foreclosure Review FAQs

November 16, 2011

 

Q1. What is the Independent Foreclosure Review?

As part of a consent order with federal bank regulators, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) (independent bureaus of the U.S. Department of the Treasury), or the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 14 mortgage servicers and their affiliates are identifying customers who were part of a foreclosure action on their primary residence during the period of January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010.

The Independent Foreclosure Review is providing homeowners the opportunity to request an independent review of their foreclosure process. If the review finds that financial injury occurred as a result of errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in the servicer’s foreclosure process, the customer may receive compensation or other remedy.

Q2. What is a foreclosure action? What foreclosure actions are part of the Independent Foreclosure Review?

Foreclosure actions include any of the following occurrences on a primary residence between the dates of January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010:

  • The property was sold due to a foreclosure judgment.
  • The mortgage loan was referred into the foreclosure process but was removed from the process because payments were brought up-to-date or the borrower entered a payment plan or modification program.
  • The mortgage loan was referred into the foreclosure process, but the home was sold or the borrower participated in a short sale or chose a deed-in-lieu or other program to avoid foreclosure.
  • The mortgage loan was referred into the foreclosure process and remains delinquent but the foreclosure sale has not yet taken place.

Q3. How do I know if I am eligible for the Independent Foreclosure Review?

Your loan must first meet the following initial eligibility criteria:

  • Your mortgage loan was serviced by one of the participating mortgage servicers in Question 4.
  • Your mortgage loan was active in the foreclosure process between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.
  • The property was your primary residence.

If your mortgage loan does not meet the initial eligibility criteria outlined above, you can still have your mortgage concerns considered by calling or writing your servicer directly.

Q4. Who are the participating servicers? What mortgage servicers and their affiliates are part of the Independent Foreclosure Review process?

The list of participating servicers includes:

  • America’s Servicing Co.
  • Aurora Loan Services
  • Bank of America
  • Beneficial
  • Chase
  • Citibank
  • CitiFinancial
  • CitiMortgage
  • Countrywide
  • EMC
  • EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company
  • GMAC Mortgage
  • HFC
  • HSBC
  • IndyMac Mortgage Services
  • MetLife Bank
  • National City Mortgage
  • PNC Mortgage
  • Sovereign Bank
  • SunTrust Mortgage
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wachovia Mortgage
  • Washington Mutual (WaMu)
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Q5. What are some examples of financial injury due to errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process?

Listed below are examples of situations that may have led to financial injury. This list does not include all situations.

  • The mortgage balance amount at the time of the foreclosure action was more than you actually owed.
  • You were doing everything the modification agreement required, but the foreclosure sale still happened.
  • The foreclosure action occurred while you were protected by bankruptcy.
  • You requested assistance/modification, submitted complete documents on time, and were waiting for a decision when the foreclosure sale occurred.
  • Fees charged or mortgage payments were inaccurately calculated, processed, or applied.
  • The foreclosure action occurred on a mortgage that was obtained before active duty military service began and while on active duty, or within 9 months after the active duty ended and the servicemember did not waive his/her rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Q6. How does my mortgage loan get reviewed as part of the Independent Foreclosure Review?

Homeowners meeting the initial eligibility criteria will be mailed notification letters with an enclosed Request for Review Form by December 31, 2011.

If you believe that you may have been financially injured, you must submit a Request for Review Form postmarked no later than April 30, 2012. Forms postmarked after this date will not be eligible for the Independent Foreclosure Review.

If you have more than one mortgage account that meets the initial eligibility criteria for an independent review, you will receive a separate letter for each. You will need to submit a separate Request for Review Form for each account. It is important that you complete the form to the best of your ability. All information you provide may be useful.

Q7. How can I submit the Request for Review Form?

Homeowners meeting the initial eligibility criteria will be mailed notification letters with an enclosed Request for Review Form before the end of 2011. If you received the notification letter, you can send in your Request for Review Form in the prepaid envelope provided, postmarked no later than April 30, 2012.

If your loan is part of the initial eligible population and you need a new form by mail, have questions, or need help completing the form you have received in the mail, call 1-888-952-9105, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. ET or Saturday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ET.

Q8. Who can submit or sign the Request for Review Form?

Either the borrower or a co-borrower of the mortgage loan can submit and sign the form. The borrower signing the Request for Review Form should be authorized by all borrowers to proceed with the request for review. In the event of a finding of financial injury, any possible compensation or remedy will take into consideration all borrowers listed on the loan, either directly or to their trusts or estates.

Q9. What if one of the borrowers has died or is injured or debilitated?

Any borrower, co-borrower or attorney-in-fact can sign the form. In the event of a finding of financial injury, any possible compensation or other remedy will take into account all borrowers listed on the mortgage loan either directly or to their trusts or estates.

Q10. Do I need an attorney to request or submit the Request for Review Form?

No. However, if your mortgage loan meets the initial eligibility criteria and you are currently represented by an attorney with respect to a foreclosure or bankruptcy case regarding your mortgage; please refer to your attorney.

The Independent Foreclosure Review is FREE. Beware of anyone who asks you to pay a fee in exchange for a service to complete the Request for Review Form.

Q11. If I have already submitted a complaint to my servicer, do I need to submit a separate Request for Review Form to participate in this process?

If your mortgage loan meets the initial eligibility criteria, you should submit a Request for Review Form to ensure your foreclosure action is included in the Independent Foreclosure Review process.

Q12. What happens during the review process?

You will be sent an acknowledgement letter within one week after your Request for Review Form is received by the independent review administrator. Your request will be reviewed for inclusion in the Independent Foreclosure Review. If your request meets the eligibility requirements, it will be reviewed by an independent consultant.

Your servicer will provide relevant documents along with any findings and recommendations related to your request for review to the independent consultant for review. Your servicer may be asked to clarify or confirm facts and disclose reasons for events that occurred related to the foreclosure process. You could be asked to provide additional information or documentation. Because the review process will be a thorough and complete examination of many details and documents, the review could take several months.

The Independent Foreclosure Review will determine whether financial injury has occurred as a result of errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process. You will receive a letter with the findings of the review and information about possible compensation or other remedy.

Q13. How do I know who my servicer is? How do I find them?

The company you sent your monthly mortgage payments to is your mortgage servicer. It is not necessarily the company whose name is on the actual foreclosure documents (although in most cases, it is). If you don’t remember the name of the servicer for your foreclosed property, we suggest you review cancelled checks, bank statements, online statements or other records for this information.

If you are still unsure of who your mortgage servicer is or do not see their name listed in Q4, please call 1-888-952-9105, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. ET or Saturday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ET.

Q14. If I request an Independent Foreclosure Review, is there a cost or will there be a negative impact to my credit?

The Independent Foreclosure Review is a FREE program. Beware of anyone who asks you to pay a fee in exchange for a service to complete the Request for Review Form.

The review will not have an impact on your credit report or any other options you may pursue related to your foreclosure.

Q15. Where can I call if I need help completing the form or have any questions about the review process?

Call 1-888-952-9105 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. ET or Saturday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ET. If you have already submitted a Request for Review Form, please have your Reference Number available to expedite your call.

Q16. How are military servicemembers affected by the Independent Foreclosure Review?

In the review, servicers are required to include all loans covered by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act that meet the qualifying criteria. However, servicemembers or co-borrowers may also request a review through this process. Financial injury may have occurred if the foreclosure action occurred on a mortgage that was obtained before active duty military service began and while on active duty, or within 9 months after the active duty ended.

Q17. How am I affected if I submit a Request for Review Form while in active bankruptcy?

If you submit a Request for Review Form and a review is conducted of your foreclosure process, this will have no impact on your bankruptcy. The letter being sent to you about the Independent Foreclosure Review is not an attempt to collect a debt. If you are in bankruptcy, please refer this letter to your attorney.

Q18. I’m still working with my servicer to prevent a foreclosure sale. Will I still be able to work with them?

Yes, continue to work with your servicer. Participating in the review will not impact any effort to prevent a foreclosure sale. The review is not intended to replace current active efforts with your servicer.

Q19. How long will the review process take and when can I expect a response?

You will be sent an acknowledgement letter within one week after your Request for Review Form is received by the independent review administrator. Because the review process will examine many details and documents, the review could take several months. The Independent Foreclosure Review will determine if financial injury occurred as a result of the servicer’s errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process. You will receive a letter with the findings of the review and information about possible compensation or other remedy. Not every finding will result in compensation or other remedy.

Q20. What happens if the review finds that I was financially injured as a result of errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process?

You will receive a letter with the findings of the review and information about possible compensation or other remedy. The compensation or other remedy you may receive will be determined by your specific situation. Not every finding will result in compensation or other remedy.

Q21. What happens if the review finds that I was not financially injured as a result of errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process?

You will receive a letter with the findings of the review. Not every finding will result in compensation or other remedy.

Q22. What if I disagree with the eligibility requirements or the result of the Independent Foreclosure Review?

The decision of the review is considered final and there is no further recourse within the Independent Foreclosure Review process. The Independent Foreclosure Review will not have an impact on any other options you may pursue related to the foreclosure process of your mortgage loan.

Q23. Does filing a Request for Review Form prevent me from filing other litigation or action against the servicer?

No. Submitting a request for an Independent Foreclosure Review will not preclude you from any other options you may pursue related to your foreclosure.


Independent Reviews of Foreclosure Cases Begin

November 16, 2011

Independent third-party reviews of foreclosure cases at the 14 largest mortgage servicers and their affiliates began Tuesday, November 1st, 2011.

Consultants hired by the banks and approved by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will evaluate whether eligible borrowers who were foreclosed between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010 suffered financially due to improper practices.

Borrowers are considered eligible if their loan meets the following initial eligibility criteria:

  • Your mortgage loan was serviced by one of the participating mortgage servicers below.
  • Your mortgage loan was active in the foreclosure process between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.
  • The property was your primary residence.

If your mortgage loan does not meet the initial eligibility criteria outlined above, you can still have your mortgage concerns considered by calling or writing your servicer directly.

Eligible customers will be mailed a letter by December 31, 2011 that explains the Independent Foreclosure Review process and a Request for Review Form that identifies some examples of situations that may have led to financial injury. The borrower has until April 30, 2012 to request a review. There is no cost to the borrower, and the OCC warned against any firm that would charge a fee up front for the review.

If eligible borrowers believe that they were financially injured as a result of servicer errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process on their primary residence, they can request a review of their foreclosure file to verify that their foreclosure process was handled properly.

Throughout this process, servicers will continue their efforts to help homeowners who have not yet gone through a foreclosure sale stay in their homes, where possible.

The reviews are a requirement under consent orders signed between regulators and the servicers. The reviews could cover more than 4.5 million cases and take more than a year to complete.

The participating servicers are:

  • America’s Servicing Company
  • Aurora Loan Services
  • Bank of America
  • EMC
  • EverBank/Everhome Mortgage Company
  • First Horizon
  • National City Mortgage
  • PNC Mortgage
  • Sovereign Bank
  • Beneficial
  • Chase
  • GMAC Mortgage
  • HFC
  • SunTrust Mortgage
  • U.S. Bank
  • Citibank
  • CitiFinancial
  • HSBC
  • IndyMac Mortgage
  • Wachovia
  • Washington Mutual
  • CitiMortgage Services Wells Fargo
  • Countrywide MetLife Bank

If your loan is part of the initial eligible population and you need a new form by mail, believe you may be eligible for a review but did not receive a mailing, have questions, or need help completing the form you have received in the mail, call 1-888-952-9105, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. EST or Saturday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. EST.


Fannie Mae Implements Deed for Lease (D4L) Program

November 8, 2009

giving back keys

In Announcement 09-33, Fannie Mae introduces the Deed for Lease Program (D4L) under which qualifying homeowners (or their tenants) facing foreclosure will be able to remain in their homes by signing a lease in connection with the voluntary transfer of the property deed back to the lender (DIL).

“The Deed for Lease Program provides an additional option for qualifying homeowners who are facing foreclosure and are not eligible for modifications,” said Jay Ryan, Vice President of Fannie Mae. “This new program helps eliminate some of the uncertainty of foreclosure, keeps families and tenants in their homes during a transitional period, and helps to stabilize neighborhoods and communities.”

The new program is designed for borrowers who do not qualify for or have not been able to sustain other loan-workout solutions, such as a modification. Under D4L, borrowers transfer their property to the lender by completing a DIL, and then lease back the house at a market rate.

To participate in the program, borrowers must live in the home as their primary residence and must be released from any subordinate liens on the property. Tenants of borrowers in this circumstance may also be eligible for leases under the program. Borrowers or tenants interested in a lease must be able to document that the new market rental rate is no more than 31% of their gross income.

Leases under the new program may be up to 12 months, with the possibility of term renewal or month-to-month extensions after that period. A D4L property that is subsequently sold includes an assignment of the lease to the buyer.

Summary

  • With the D4L program, servicers should follow their regular process – in accordance with Fannie Mae’s workout hierarchy – in considering a borrower for a DIL.
  • If a borrower is eligible for a DIL (as determined by the servicer), the servicer should notify Fannie Mae if the borrower may also be eligible for the D4L program based on an initial screen of predetermined eligibility criteria.
  • Fannie Mae, or its designee, will take the steps necessary to further verify the property and borrower eligibility, determine the rental rate, and, if appropriate, execute the lease agreement.
  • To qualify for D4L, the occupant of the property must have the ability to pay market rent (not to exceed 31% of his or her monthly gross income).
  • The D4L agreement will be contingent on successful completion of the DIL.

Process

  • D4L includes certain responsibilities and requirements for servicers, borrowers, Fannie Mae and property managers (as designated by Fannie Mae). These are detailed in Announcement 09-33. Servicers should also refer to the Interim Instructions for Servicers document. Once automated system enhancements are in place, the automated process will replace the Interim Instructions for Servicers. Fannie Mae will notify servicers when these enhancements are available.

Documentation

Servicers must use the following documents when participating in the D4L program:


Home Affordable Modification FAQs

June 8, 2009

LoanModificationOptions

Can Making Home Affordable help me if my loan is not owned or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

Yes. Making Home Affordable offers help to borrowers who are struggling to keep their loans current or who are already behind on their mortgage payments. By providing mortgage servicers with financial incentives to modify existing first mortgages, the Treasury hopes to help as many as 3 to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure regardless of who owns or services the mortgage.

Do I need to be behind on my mortgage payments to be eligible for a Home Affordable Modification?

No. Responsible borrowers who are struggling to remain current on their mortgage payments are eligible if they are at risk of imminent default, for example, because their mortgage payment has recently increased to a level that is not affordable. If you have had or anticipate a significant increase in your mortgage payment or you have had a significant reduction in income or have experienced some other hardship that makes you unable to pay your mortgage, contact your servicer. You will be required to document your income and expenses and provide evidence of the hardship or change in your circumstances.

I have a second mortgage. Am I still eligible?

Yes, but only the first mortgage is eligible for a modification.

How do I know if my servicer is participating? Are all servicers required to participate?

Servicer participation in the program is voluntary. However, the government is offering substantial incentives to servicers and investors, and it is expected that most major servicers will participate. Participating servicers will sign a contract with Treasury’s financial agent, through which they agree to review every potentially eligible borrower who calls or writes asking to be considered for the program.

What happens after five years?

If the modified interest rate is below the market rate, the modified rate will be fixed for a minimum of five years as specified in your modification agreement. Beginning in year six, the rate may increase no more than one percentage point per year until it reaches the rate cap indicated in your modification agreement. The cap is equal to the prevailing market interest rate on the date the modification is finalized as published by Freddie Mac based on a survey of its customers. This cap means that your rate can never be higher than the market rate on the day your loan was modified. If the modified rate is at or above the prevailing market rate, as defined above, the modified rate will be fixed for the life of the loan.

Will the modified loan include property taxes and homeowners insurance?

Yes. The modification payment will include a monthly amount to be set aside (escrowed) to pay taxes and insurance when they become due. This escrow is required even if your prior loan did not include an escrow.

How low can my interest rate go?

Treasury is providing incentives to your investor to write the interest down to as low as 2%, if necessary to get to a payment that you can afford based on your income.

What happens if that is not enough to get to an affordable payment?

If a 2% interest rate does not result in a payment that is affordable (no more than 31% of your gross monthly income), your servicer will:

  • First try to extend your payment term. At the servicer’s option your payments could be extended out to 40 years.
  • If that is still not sufficient your servicer may defer repayment on a portion of the amount you owe until a later time. This is called a principal forbearance.
  • A portion of the debt could be also be forgiven. This is optional on the part of the investor. There is no requirement for principal forgiveness.

Could I end up with a balloon payment?

Yes. If your servicer determines that a principal forbearance is required to get your monthly payment to an affordable level, the amount of the forbearance, say for example this was $20,000, would be subtracted from the amount used to calculate your monthly mortgage payment, but you would still owe the money. You would have a $20,000 balloon payment that had no interest and was not due until you paid off your loan, refinanced or sold your house.

What happens if I am unable to make payments during the trial period?

Borrowers who are unable to make three payments by the end of the trial period are not eligible for a Home Affordable Modification. However, you may be eligible for other foreclosure prevention options offered by your servicer.

How much will a modification cost me?

Borrowers who are behind on payments or at risk of imminent default often do not have cash to pay for the expenses of a loan modification. Borrowers who qualify for a Home Affordable Modification will never be required to pay a modification fee or pay past due late fees. If there are costs associated with the modification, such as payment of back taxes, your servicer will give you the option of adding them to the amount you owe on your mortgage or paying some or all of the expenses in advance. Paying these expenses in advance will reduce your new monthly payment and save interest costs over the life of your loan.

If you would like assistance from a HUD-approved housing counseling agency or are referred to a counselor as a condition of the modification, you will not be charged a counseling fee. Borrowers should beware of any organization that attempts to charge an upfront fee for housing counseling or modification of a delinquent loan, or any organization that claims to guarantee success.

Is housing counseling required under this program?

Borrowers, especially delinquent borrowers, are strongly encouraged to contact a HUD-approved housing counselor to help them understand all of their financial options and to create a workable budget plan. These services are free. However, housing counseling is only required for borrowers whose total monthly debts are very high in relation their incomes. It is voluntary for other applicants.

When you apply for a Home Affordable Modification, your servicer will analyze your monthly debts, including the amount you will owe on the new mortgage payment after it is modified, as well as payments on a second mortgage, car loans, credit cards or child support. If the sum of all of these recurring monthly expenses is equal to or more than 55% of your gross monthly income, you must agree to participate in housing counseling provided by a HUD-approved housing counselor as a condition of getting the modification.

I heard the government was providing a financial incentive to borrowers. Is that true?

Yes. Borrowers who make timely payments on their modified loans will receive success incentives. For every month you make a payment on time, Treasury will pay an incentive that reduces the principal balance on your loan. The incentive will be applied directly to your loan balance annually and over five years the total principal reduction could add up to $5,000. This contribution by the Treasury will help you build equity faster.

I do not live in the house that secures the mortgage I’d like to modify. Is this mortgage eligible for a Home Affordable Modification?

No. For example, if you own a house that you use as a vacation home or that you rent out to tenants, the mortgage on that house is not eligible. If you used to live in the home but you moved out, the mortgage is not eligible. Only the mortgage on your primary residence is eligible. The mortgage servicer will check to see if the dwelling is your primary residence. Misrepresenting your occupancy in order to qualify for this program is a violation of Federal law and may have serious consequences.

I have a mortgage on a duplex. I live in one unit and rent the other. Will I still be eligible?

Yes. Mortgages on two, three and four unit properties are eligible as long as you live in one unit as your primary residence.

I owe more than my house is worth. Will a Home Affordable Modification reduce what I owe?

The primary objective of the Making Home Affordable Program is to help borrowers avoid foreclosure by modifying troubled loans to achieve a payment the borrower can afford. Investors may, but are not required to, offer principal reductions. It is more likely that your servicer will use interest rate reductions in order to make your payment affordable.

I have an FHA loan. Can it be modified under the making Home Affordable Program? Are all loans eligible?

Most conventional loans including prime, subprime and adjustable loans, loans owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and private lenders and most loans in mortgage backed securities are eligible for a Home Affordable Modification. The Administration is working with the Congress to enact legislation that will allow FHA and VA to offer modifications consistent with Making Home Affordable in the near future. Currently loans insured or guaranteed by these agencies are being modified under other programs that also enable borrowers to retain homeownership.

How do I apply for a modification under the Making Home Affordable Plan?

If you meet the general eligibility criteria for the program, you should gather the financial documentation that your servicer will need to determine if you qualify. Once you have this information, you should call your mortgage servicer and ask to be considered for a Home Affordable Modification. The number is on your monthly mortgage bill or coupon book.

If your loan is current, please be patient as it may take some time before servicers are able to process all applications. However, servicers immediately can begin reviewing the eligibility of borrowers.

If you would like to speak to a housing counselor you can call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673). HUD-approved housing counselors can help you evaluate your income and expenses and understand your options. This counseling is FREE.

If you have already missed one or more mortgage payments and have not yet spoken to your servicer call them immediately.


How long will the Home Affordable Modification Program be available?

The program expires on December 31, 2012. Your trial modification must be in place by that date.

My loan is scheduled for foreclosure soon. What should I do?

Many servicers have made a commitment to postpone foreclosure sales on all mortgages that meet the minimum eligibility criteria for a Home Affordable Modification until those loans can be fully evaluated.

However, borrowers whose loans have been scheduled for foreclosure or any borrower that has missed one or more mortgage payments and has not yet spoken to their servicer should contact the servicer immediately. Borrowers may also contact a HUD-approved housing counselor by calling 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).

Who is my “loan servicer? Is that the same as my lender or investor?

Your loan servicer is the financial institution that collects your monthly mortgage payments and has responsibility for the management and accounting of your loan. Your servicer may also be your lender, which means they own your loan, however, many loans are owned by groups of investors.

Traditionally, banks used money deposited in customers’ savings accounts to make loans. They held the loans, earning the interest as borrowers repaid over time. Banks were thus limited in the number of loans they could make because they had to wait to make new ones until savings deposits grew or existing borrowers repaid their loans. Many families who wanted to own a home were unable to do so because there was not a steady supply of money to lend.

Over time, banks started to turn loans into cash by pooling large groups of loans together to create mortgage backed securities that could be sold to investors such as pension funds and hedge funds. The investors get the right to collect future payments and the bank gets cash that it can use to make more loans. Investors hire loan servicers to collect payments and interact with customers.

If you have questions about your loan or you are behind on your payments you should call your loan servicer at the number on your payment coupon or monthly mortgage statement.

Why does my loan servicer have to ask the investor if they can do a loan modification?

If the organization that services your loan does not own it, your servicer may need to get permission from the owner or investor before they can change any of the terms of your loan. Generally, there is a contract between the servicer and the investor that states what kind of actions the servicer is allowed to take. Most of these contracts, called pooling and servicing agreements (PSAs), give the servicer a lot of leeway to make modification decisions, so long as the modification provides a better financial outcome for the investor than not modifying the loan.

What should I do if my servicer tells me that the investor is not participating in Making Home Affordable?

Borrowers should check first to see if their servicer is listed. If so, you should call your servicer back and ask to speak to a supervisor or you may contact a HUD-approved housing counselor for assistance. If your servicer or investor is not participating in the program, you should ask your servicer or a housing counselor about other workout options that may be available.

 


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