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.

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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.


Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP)

July 6, 2010

 

The Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP) is a supplemental program to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) which provides assistance to unemployed borrowers. The Unemployment Program grants qualified unemployed borrowers a forbearance period which reduces or suspends their monthly mortgage payment.

***Note:  UP is for first lien mortgage loans that are not owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (Non Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) Mortgages) or insured or guaranteed by a federal agency, such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).***

The program is effective for participating HAMP servicers on July 1, 2010; however, servicers may begin to offer UP earlier.

Eligibility

Servicers are required to offer UP when the following criteria is met:

  • Loan is a first lien mortgage, originated on or before January 1, 2009, secured by a one- to four unit property, 1-unit of which is the borrower’s principal residence and the unpaid principal balance (UPB) is equal to or less than $729,750 on 1-unit properties (See Supplemental Directive 09-01 for amounts on 2 – 4 unit dwellings)
  • Loan has not been previously modified under HAMP and the borrower has not previously received a UP forbearance period
  • Borrower is unemployed at the date of the request for UP and is able to document that they will receive unemployment benefits or have been receiving unemployment benefits at commencement of the forbearance plan
  • Servicers have the discretion whether or not to require a borrower to have received unemployment benefits for up to 3 months before commencement of the forbearance plan
  • Borrower is either delinquent but has not missed more than 3 consecutive monthly payments or default is reasonably foreseeable

It is at the servicer’s discretion whether to offer UP if a borrower’s total monthly mortgage payment is less than 31% of the borrower’s monthly gross income.

Additional UP forbearance plan eligibility requirements include that the borrower:

  • Makes a request before the first mortgage lien is seriously delinquent (before 3 monthly payments are due and unpaid). A request for UP may be made by phone, mail or email. Within 10 business days, servicers must confirm the receipt of the request with the borrower via mail or return email.
  • Is unemployed at the date of the request for UP and is able to document that he or she will receive unemployment benefits in the month of the Forbearance Period Effective Date even if his or her unemployment benefit eligibility is scheduled to expire before the end of the UP forbearance period.

Terms

The UP forbearance period is 3 months or upon notification that the borrower has become re-employed; however, it can be extended in accordance with investor and regulatory guidelines.

The monthly payment MUST be reduced to 31% (or less) of the borrower’s gross monthly income. At the discretion of the servicer, monthly mortgage payments may be suspended in full.

Payment amount and due date, if any, is established by the servicer according to investor and regulatory guidelines.

Servicers are prohibited from:

  • Initiating foreclosure action or conducting a foreclosure sale while the borrower is being evaluated for UP
  • After the Foreclosure Plan Notice (FPN) is mailed
  • During the UP forbearance or extension while the borrower is being evaluated for or participating in HAMP or HAFA following, the UP forbearance period

A borrower in a permanent HAMP modification that becomes unemployed is not eligible for an UP forbearance plan.

A borrower who was previously determined to be ineligible for a HAMP modification may request consideration for an UP forbearance plan if the borrower meets all of the eligibility requirements.

If the servicer is requiring a reduced monthly payment, the borrower’s reduced payment MUST be received by the servicer on or before the last day of the month in which it is due.

If the borrower fails to make timely payments, the UP forbearance plan may be canceled and the borrower is not eligible for HAMP consideration.

Reporting Requirements

To Credit Bureaus:

The servicer should continue to report a “full-file” credit report to each major credit repository.


Bank of America Short Sale Process Presentation

April 19, 2010

 

 On April 8, 2010, Bank of America (BOA) executives held a webinar presentation for over 10,000 Realtors to discuss BOA’s short sale process.

Tip: Refer to the Equator Agent/Homeowner Guide for step-by-step instructions 

Summary

10 Tips to Avoid Delays in Processing Time

  1. Review all documents and images for accuracy prior to uploading in Equator
  2. Ensure that property is listed in the MLS
  3. Negotiate external party fees prior to submission of HUD-1
  4. Supply HUD-1 that is valid for at least 60 days
  5. Ensure that agent and customer tasks are completed as timely as possible in Equator (i.e. accepting short sale assignment, submitting short sale offer, and uploading offer documents within 7 days)
  6. Only submit fully executed purchase offers with all appropriate addendums signed by both buyer and homeowner
  7. Work to get purchase offer representing the best possible fair market value and highest net proceeds for the lender
  8. Set appropriate expectations with buyers/sellers so they understand the complexity and resulting length of time a short sale can take
  9. Work to get a release on outside liens as early as possible
  10. The following situations will cause delays: (1) Change in buyer or agent at any time during the process; (2) Customer files bankruptcy; (3) Deal change after the approval letter is issued

Steps Already Taken to Improve the Short Sale Process

  • Increased staffing and updated training
  • Dedicated Short Sale Call Center:  1-866-880-1232
  • Hours of Operation: 8 AM – 9PM (EST), Monday -Friday
  • Extended Saturday hours – Coming Soon!
  • Equator – primary tool for initiating the short sale
  • Changed procedures to improve associate responsiveness
  • Enhanced the procedure to proactively provide loan status

Steps Underway to Enhance Programs

Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA):

  • Implemented on April 5, 2010 and are following the HAFA guidelines 
  • HAFA is first in short sale waterfall of options for a homeowner
  • Remember: Some investors (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) are not participating; offering a cooperative or traditional short sale
  • Proactive outreach to homeowners
  • Offering a pre-approved short sale solicitation 
  • After offer is submitted, approval within 14 days
  • Promissory Note – Not required with HAFA 
  • Homeowner required to clear second liens
  • Homeowner leaves the home – no deficiency and no contribution

Cooperative Short Sales:

  • Similar in approach to HAFA but wider in scope
  • Includes homeowners who are not eligible for HAFA – non-owner occupied, jumbo loans, Fannie, Freddie
  • Currently in pilot stages with rollout expected 2nd Quarter of 2010

Steps Underway to Educate Agents

Education Materials:

  • Overview of the process so agents can lead process
  • Step-by-Step Guidelines for working through the system as an agent and homeowner
  • Tips to avoid common problems

Outreach Events to Distribute Materials

  • Large Realtor Events
  • Webinars
  • Participation with Short Sale Certification Programs

Want Agents’ Input

  • Developing mechanisms for on-going feedback on process, systems, materials
  • Will act on feedback with continuous improvements

Introduction to Equator

  • 24/7 access to the short sale system
  • Status tracking
  • Direct communication with the Short Sale Negotiator
  • Documents are uploaded directly to Equator instead of faxing
  • Streamlined approval process
  • Historical view of offers and counter offers

Coming Soon in Equator:

  • There are a few specific loan investor types (i.e., FHA/VA) that are not on the Equator system and will be added at a later date
  • Agent feedback, homeowner feedback, and internal data is being leveraged to identify system and/or enhancements for future process rollouts and educational material improvements

Agent Communication within Equator

  • Throughout the process you will receive notifications of the status of the short sale. The system automatically tracks the agent, customer, and bank tasks and will alert you after key milestones have been achieved and to let you know the next steps.
  • For specific questions/concerns you have, the negotiator assigned to the short sale is your primary contact.
  • Please ensure when sending a message in Equator you only select “Negotiator”.
  • We request that you only send messages via Equator and not directly through email. This enables our associates to effectively manage the case load and respond to agent inquires in a timely manner.
  • If you have submitted a request to the Negotiator via Equator AND there has been no response after 2 business days: You should escalate to a “Team Lead” by selecting this role in your message drop down menu.
  • In the event of an urgent issue, such as, a foreclosure sale date within 48 hours: You should immediately escalate to the “Team Lead” and “Manager”; and also call the Short Sale support team at 1-866-880-1232. 

Fannie Mae Introduces Alternative HAMP Modification

March 29, 2010

In Lender Letter LL-2010-04, Fannie Mae introduces the Alternative Modification™ (Alt Mod™),  an alternative to the HAMP modification for those borrowers who were eligible for and accepted into a HAMP trial period plan but were subsequently not offered a HAMP permanent modification because of eligibility restrictions.

For mortgage loans in active HAMP trial period plans initiated prior to March 1, 2010, all Fannie Mae-approved servicers must consider the Alt Mod prior to the initiation of foreclosure for all eligible borrowers who were not offered a permanent HAMP modification after making payments under a HAMP trial period plan. All borrowers must meet the eligibility criteria outlined below.

A borrower that entered into a trial period plan prior to March 1, 2010 will be considered eligible for the Alt Mod as long as the case is submitted through the HomeSaver Solutions® Network (HSSN) prior to the final date of the program offering, August 31, 2010.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the Alt Mod, the mortgage loan must first have been evaluated and considered eligible for HAMP as described in Announcement 09-05R,  including confirmation that the mortgage loan is secured by a 1 – 4 unit owner-occupied property. The HAMP trial period must have been initiated prior to March 1, 2010. The borrower must have made all required payments in accordance with a HAMP trial period plan, including subsequent payments that may have been due while the servicer attempted to convert the trial period to a permanent modification. Any subsequent trial period payment(s) due from the borrower must be submitted prior to executing a permanent modification agreement.

The Alt Mod may be considered if:

  • the monthly mortgage payment ratio based on verified income was less than 31%,
  • the target monthly mortgage payment ratio of 31% based on verified income could not be reached using the standard HAMP modification waterfall, or
  • the borrower failed to provide all income documentation required for a HAMP modification but the income documentation meets the streamlined income documentation for the Alt Mod (described in the Underwriting section below).

When a borrower is considered eligible for the Alt Mod, the servicer must:

  • document the borrower’s file to evidence compliance with the requirements for resolving active trial modifications in accordance with Announcement SVC-2010-03,
  • cancel the HAMP modification in HSSN and the Treasury Department’s system of record, and
  • send the borrower the appropriate Borrower Notice as outlined in Announcement 09-36. The servicer must include the Alt Mod offer and Loan Modification Agreement (Form 3179) with the HAMP Borrower Notice when possible.

The Alt Mod offer must clearly indicate that, while the Alt Mod contains the same payment terms as the HAMP modification, the borrower did not meet the requirements of HAMP and as a result, the Alt Mod does not include borrower incentive payments that are otherwise payable under HAMP.

Before any permanent modification can become effective, the servicer must:

  • provide the borrower with a simplified summary of the Loan Modification Agreement (Instructions for Form 3179),
  • inform the borrower that in the event of re-default the servicer will pursue liquidation options, and
  • remind the borrower of the consequences of material misstatements when submitting documentation in connection with a request for a modification.

Timing of Borrower Solicitation & Follow-Up

For qualified borrowers who are already identified as ineligible for a permanent HAMP modification, Alt Mod offers should be sent no later than 30 days from the date of this Lender Letter.

Going forward, for other borrowers who entered into a trial period plan prior to March 1, 2010 and failed to qualify for a permanent HAMP modification, but are determined to be eligible for Alt Mod, offers should be sent within 10 days of completion of the HAMP trial period and expiration of the 30-day HAMP Borrower Notice. All Alt Mod offers should also include an expiration date of 30 days from the date of the offer.

For borrowers who do not respond after the Alt Mod offer has been sent, servicers must conduct follow-up:

  • between the 5th and the 15th day after the offer is mailed, servicers must attempt at least 3 phone calls;
  • on the 15th day after the offer is mailed, servicers must deliver a follow-up letter, by either mail or a direct contact, door-knocking campaign; and
  • between the 15th and 30th day after the offer is mailed, servicers must attempt to contact the borrower a minimum of three additional times by either phone calls or the use of field services (door knockers).

Failure to comply with these guidelines could result in forfeiture of incentive payments to the servicer.

Underwriting

A servicer must have obtained a property valuation as required under the HAMP modification as described in Announcement 09-05R. The servicer must use that valuation to underwrite the Alt Mod.

Mark-to-Market LTV 80 Percent or Greater

If the current mark-to-market loan-to-value (LTV) ratio (current LTV based upon the new valuation) is 80% or greater, the payment calculated for HAMP using the standard modification waterfall should be utilized for the Alt Mod and verification of income documentation as described below is not necessary.

Mark-to-Market LTV Less than 80%

When the current mark-to-market LTV ratio is less than 80%, the payment calculated for HAMP using the standard modification waterfall should be utilized for the Alt Mod, and income verification is required (as described in the Streamlined Income Documentation section below). However, the Alt Mod mortgage payment may not be reduced below 20% of the borrower’s verified monthly gross income.

  • If the borrower did not qualify for a HAMP modification because the borrower failed to provide all required income documentation but the income documentation meets the streamlined income documentation requirements for the Alt Mod, the servicer may use the payment previously calculated for the HAMP trial period for the Alt Mod provided that the payment meets the criteria outlined above.

If, after applying the modification waterfall steps based on verified income documentation, the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment cannot be reduced without going below a 20% monthly mortgage payment ratio, the servicer may not perform the modification without the express written consent of Fannie Mae. A principal write-down or principal forgiveness is prohibited on Fannie Mae mortgage loans.

Streamlined Income Documentation

A servicer may use the verified income documentation required under HAMP to calculate the payment for the Alt Mod. If the borrower is ineligible for a HAMP modification because of failure to provide the required income documentation, the servicer may rely upon the following streamlined documentation requirements for the Alt Mod.

If the borrower is employed:

  • a copy of the most recent paystub indicating year-to-date earnings or, if year-to-date earnings are not available, copies of paystubs for the last two months.

If the borrower elects to use other earned income such as bonus, commission, fee, housing allowance, tips, overtime:

  • reliable third party documentation describing the nature of the income (for example, an employment contract or printouts documenting tip income).

If the borrower is self-employed:

  • a signed copy of the most recent federal income tax return, including all schedules and forms, if available, or signed Internal Revenue Service Request for Transcript of Tax Return (Form 4506-T); and
  • copies of bank statements for the business account for the last two months to document continuation of business activity.

If the borrower elects to use alimony or child support income to qualify, acceptable documentation includes:

  • photocopies of the divorce decree, separation agreement or other type of legal written agreement or court decree that provides for the payment of alimony or child support and states the amount of the award and the period of time over which it will be received; and
  • documents supplying reasonably reliable evidence of full, regular, and timely payments, such as bank deposit slips or bank statements for the last two months.

If the borrower has other income such as Social Security, disability or death benefits, a pension, public assistance or adoption assistance:

  • acceptable documentation includes letters, exhibits, a disability policy or benefits statement from the provider that states the amount, frequency and duration of the benefit; and
  • the servicer must obtain copies of the most recent bank statement showing these deposits.

If the borrower receives unemployment:

  • acceptable documentation includes letters, exhibits or a benefits statement from the provider that states the amount, frequency, and duration of the benefit. The servicer must have determined that the income will continue for at least nine months from the date of the HAMP eligibility determination.

If the borrower has rental income, acceptable documentation includes:

  • copies of all pages from the borrower’s signed federal income tax return and Schedule E – Supplemental Income and Loss, for the most recent tax year.
  • When Schedule E is not available because the property was not previously rented, servicers may accept a current lease agreement and bank statements or canceled rent checks.
  • If the borrower has rental income from a one- to four-unit property that is also the borrower’s principal residence, the monthly net rental income to be calculated for HAMP purposes must equal 75% of the gross rent, with the remaining 25% being considered vacancy loss and maintenance expense.
  • If the borrower has rental income from a property that is other than the borrower’s primary residence, the income should be 75% of the monthly gross rental income, reduced by the monthly debt service on the property (i.e., principal, interest, taxes, insurance, including mortgage insurance and association fees, if applicable).

Income documentation previously obtained during the HAMP evaluation may be relied upon for the purposes of verifying income for the Alt Mod. All other income documentation must not be more than 90 days old from the date of the Alt Mod evaluation.

Executing the Modification Agreement

The servicer must prepare a Loan Modification Agreement to document the agreed-upon terms of the modification. Servicers must revise the Loan Modification Agreement by amending the existing paragraph No. 5 (d) in such agreement to reflect that the borrower will not be charged for administrative and processing costs as described in the Administrative Costs section below.

Unless a borrower or co-borrower is deceased or a borrower and co-borrower are divorced, all parties who signed the original note or security instrument, or their duly authorized representative(s), must provide income documentation and execute the modification agreement. If a borrower and a co-borrower are divorced and the property has been transferred to one borrower in the divorce decree, the borrower who no longer has an interest in the property is not required to execute the modification agreement. In cases where a borrower and co-borrower are unmarried and either the borrower or co-borrower relinquish all rights to the property securing the mortgage loan through a recorded quitclaim deed or other document sufficient under applicable state law to transfer title, the non-occupying borrower who has relinquished property rights is not required to provide income documentation or sign the modification agreement.

Servicers are reminded that modification agreements must be signed by an authorized representative of the servicer and must reflect the actual date of signature by the servicer’s representative.

Recording the Modification

For all mortgage loans that are modified pursuant to an Alt Mod, the servicer must ensure that the modified mortgage loan retains its first lien position and is fully enforceable. The modification agreement must be executed by the borrower(s) and, in the following circumstances, must be in recordable form:

  • if state or local law requires a modification agreement be recorded to be enforceable;
  • if the property is located in the state of New York or Cuyahoga County, Ohio;
  • if the amount capitalized is greater than $50,000 (aggregate capitalized amount of all modifications of the mortgage loan completed under Fannie Mae’s mortgage modification alternatives);
  • if the final interest rate on the modified mortgage loan is greater than the pre-modified interest rate in effect on the mortgage loan;
  • if the remaining term on the mortgage loan is less than or equal to ten years and the servicer is extending the term of the mortgage loan more than ten years beyond the original maturity date; or
  • if the servicer’s practice for modifying mortgage loans in the servicer’s portfolio is to create modification agreements in recordable form.

In addition, to retain the first lien position, servicers must:

  • Ensure all real estate taxes and assessments that could become a first lien are current especially those for manufactured homes taxed as personal property, personal property taxes, condominium/HOA fees, utility assessments (such as water bills), ground rent and other assessments.
  • Obtain a title endorsement or similar title insurance product issued by a title insurance company if
  • the amount capitalized is greater than $50,000 (aggregate capitalized amount of all modifications of the mortgage loan completed under Fannie Mae’s mortgage modification alternatives), or
  • the final interest rate on the modified mortgage loan is greater than the pre-modified interest rate in effect on the mortgage loan.

Record the executed modification agreement if:

  • state or local law requires the modification agreement be recorded to be enforceable,
  • the property is located in Cuyahoga County, Ohio,
  • the amount capitalized is greater than $50,000 (aggregate capitalized amount of all modifications of the mortgage loan completed under our modification alternatives),
  • the remaining term on the mortgage loan is less than or equal to ten years and the servicer is extending the term of the mortgage loan more than ten years beyond the original maturity date, or
  • the final interest rate on the modified mortgage loan is greater than the pre-modified interest rate in effect on the mortgage loan.

Redefault

If a borrower becomes 60 days delinquent on the Alt Mod within the first 12 months after the effective date of the modification, then the servicer must immediately work with the borrower to pursue either a preforeclosure sale, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or commence foreclosure proceedings, in accordance with applicable state law. Should a servicer determine that another modification is appropriate for the borrower; the servicer must submit the loan information as a non-delegated case into HSSN for Fannie Mae’s prior approval.

Late Fees

All late charges, penalties, stop payment fees or similar fees must be waived upon conversion to an Alt Mod.

Administrative Costs

Servicers may not charge the borrower to cover the administrative processing costs incurred in connection with an Alt Mod. The servicer must pay any actual out-of-pocket expenses such as any required notary fees, recordation fees, title costs, property valuation fees, or other allowable and documented expenses. Fannie Mae will reimburse the servicer for allowable out-of-pocket expenses, with the exception of credit report fees, which will not be reimbursed.

Servicer Incentive Compensation

A servicer will receive compensation of $800 for each completed modification. Incentive fee payments on eligible mortgage loans will be sent to servicers upon receipt of a closed case entered into the HSSN. Fannie Mae will review eligibility for the modification incentive fee and make the final determination based on information provided by the servicer; therefore, servicers need not submit requests for payment of modification incentive fees. Modification incentive fees on eligible mortgages will be sent to servicers on a monthly basis.


HAMP Update: Guidance to Expedite Permanent Modifications

February 1, 2010

On January 28, 2010, the Treasury Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)  released updated guidance for the mortgage servicers who initiate the modifications and monitor the trial periods.  The guidance refines the documentation requirements and other procedures in order to expedite conversions of current trial modifications to permanent ones.

Guidance Details

Supplemental Directive 10-01 provides guidance on two major issues:

  1. Converting Borrowers in the Temporary Review Period to Permanent Modifications

In December 2009, the Treasury implemented a review period through January 31, 2010 to provide servicers additional time to collect and submit missing documentation for borrowers in trial modifications, to require that borrowers be notified of any missing documents, and to give borrowers an opportunity to dispute and correct any erroneous information in their applications. Today’s guidance clarifies for servicers the proper procedures for conversion of those borrowers who are current on their monthly payments to permanent modifications.

Acknowledgement and Review of Initial Package

Within 10 business days following receipt of an Initial Package, the mortgage servicer must acknowledge in writing the borrower’s request for HAMP participation by sending the borrower confirmation that the Initial Package was received, and a description of the mortgage servicer’s evaluation process and timeline. If the Initial Package is received from the borrower via e-mail, the servicer may e-mail the acknowledgment. Servicers must maintain evidence of the date of receipt of the borrower’s Initial Package in its records.

Within 30 calendar days from the date an Initial Package is received, the mortgage servicer must review the documentation provided by the borrower for completeness. If the documentation is incomplete, the mortgage servicer must send the borrower an Incomplete Information Notice in accordance with the guidance set forth in the “Incomplete Information Notice” section below. If the borrower’s documentation is complete, the servicer must either:

  1. Send the borrower a Trial Period Plan Notice; or
  2. Make a determination that the borrower is not eligible for HAMP and communicate this determination to the borrower in accordance with the Borrower Notice guidance provided in Supplemental Directive 09-08.

A single written communication sent within 10 days of receipt of a borrower’s request for HAMP participation may also include, at the mortgage servicer’s discretion, the results of its review of the Initial Package. Mortgage servicers are reminded that Supplemental Directive 09-01 generally prohibits servicers from proceeding with a foreclosure sale for any potentially eligible mortgage loan until the borrower has been evaluated for eligibility under HAMP and has been determined to be ineligible or has declined a trial period plan offer.

 Incomplete Information Notice

If the mortgage servicer receives an incomplete Initial Package or needs additional documentation to verify the borrower’s eligibility and income, the servicer must send the borrower an Incomplete Information Notice that lists the additional required verification documentation. The Incomplete Information Notice must include a specific date by which the documentation must be received, which must be no less than 30 calendar days from the date of the notice. If the documents are not received by the date specified in the notice, the servicer must make one additional attempt to contact the borrower in writing regarding the incomplete documents. This additional notice must include the specific date by which the documentation must be received, which must be no less than 15 calendar days from the date of the second notice. If a borrower is unresponsive to these requests for documentation the servicer may discontinue document collection efforts and determine the borrower to be ineligible for HAMP. If the borrower is determined to be ineligible for HAMP, the servicer must communicate this determination to the borrower in accordance with the Borrower Notice guidance provided in Supplemental Directive 09-08.

Trial Period Plan Approval

Within 30 calendar days following receipt of an Initial Package or complete verification documents, the mortgage servicer must complete its verification and evaluate the borrower’s eligibility for HAMP and, if the borrower is qualified, send the borrower a Trial Period Plan Notice. If the borrower is determined to be ineligible for HAMP, the servicer must communicate this determination to the borrower in accordance with the Borrower Notice guidance provided in Supplemental Directive 09-08. Servicers are reminded that Supplemental Directive 09-01 prohibits servicers from initiating a new foreclosure action while a borrower is in a trial period plan.

Consideration for Alternative Loss Mitigation Options

When a borrower is determined to be ineligible for a HAMP modification, the servicer is required to consider that borrower for all other available loss mitigation options, including but not limited to refinance, forbearance, non-HAMP modifications and, to the extent a borrower does not qualify for a home retention alternative, Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (short sales or deeds in lieu of foreclosure) under Supplemental Directive 09-09. As required in Supplemental Directive 09-08, available loss mitigation options should be described in the Non-Approval Notice.

Conversation from Trial to Permanent Modification:

Servicers must use a two-step process for HAMP modifications. Following underwriting and a determination that the borrower qualifies for a HAMP trial modification, servicers will place qualified borrowers in a trial period plan by preparing and sending a Trial Period Plan Notice to the borrower describing the terms of the trial modification and the payment due dates. Borrowers who make all trial period payments timely and who satisfy all other trial period requirements will be offered a permanent HAMP modification.

Step 1 – Trial Period Plan Start

The trial period is 3 months in duration (or longer if necessary to comply with applicable contractual obligations). Borrowers are not required to sign or return the Trial Period Plan Notice. Servicers should retain a copy of the Trial Period Plan Notice in the borrower file and note the date that it was sent to the borrower. Receipt of the first payment due under the trial period plan on or before the last day of the month in which the first payment is due is evidence of the borrower’s acceptance of the trial period plan and its terms and conditions. The effective date of the trial period will be set forth in the trial period plan and is the 1st day of the month in which the first trial period plan payment is due.

Step 2 – Conversion to Permanent

The borrower must be current under the terms of the trial period plan at the end of the trial period to receive a permanent loan modification. “Current” in this context is defined as the borrower having made each required trial period payment by the last day of the month in which it is due.

Borrowers who fail to make current trial period payments are considered to have failed the trial period and are not eligible for a HAMP modification. Servicers are instructed to use good business judgment in determining whether trial period payments were received timely or if mitigating circumstances caused the payment to be late. Exceptions should be documented in the servicing record.


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