OCC spokesman Bryan Hubbard said borrowers will be compensated based on which category of possible error they fit without delving in to the facts of their situation.
“It’s not being determined on harm anymore — just the category that may have occurred, that possibly occurred,” Hubbard said. “They’ll receive a check based on the type of error that may have occurred.”
“Some people will receive a check who had no error. That is absolutely true,” Hubbard said.
He acknowledged: “There may be people who are undercompensated. But they give up nothing by accepting the money and they may pursue whatever other remedies are available to them.”
As of the Dec. 31, 2012 deadline for applying for the Independent Foreclosure Review, some 495,000 borrowers had applied out of more than 3.8 million estimated to have been eligible to seek a review. OCC said those borrowers who asked for a review will get higher payouts than peers who didn’t.
Borrowers and consumer advocates have been mostly skeptical about the OCC deal.
“The settlement took my hope away,” said Carol, a Fort Lauderdale woman who applied for the Independent Foreclosure Review because she was forced to do a short sale on her home after Citibank initiated a foreclosure action in June 2009.
Carol, a former mortgage professional who asked that her last name not be used, said she doubts the settlement will help consumers much. “I’m very disappointed in the government. Where is the watchdog? Where is the transparency?” she said.
Fueling consumers’ skepticism: A $25 billion settlement last spring between 49 state attorneys general and five big banks, has yet to provide much help to consumers. The state of Florida is just now ready to decide how to spend part of its share. Jan. 18 is the deadline for homeowners to file a claim under that settlement. Details are available at nationalmortgagesettlement.com.
Regarding the OCC settlement, community advocate Taylor said the OCC’s change in tack is troubling. “It would have been a better approach to find those people the most wronged and make them whole, instead of a blanket payment,” Taylor said. “It’s a little money for a lot of people, instead of more money for those most abused.”
Bruce Jacobs, a Miami attorney who specializes in foreclosure defense, said the OCC settlement “sounds like a lot, but it’s a quarterly profit for some of these banks. It’s not much of a penalty. A lot of people in Miami need help and I’m afraid they’re not going to get it. The government sold them short.”
Bank of America and Fannie Mae
Separately, Fannie Mae and Bank of America announced an $11.6 billion settlement to a long-standing dispute Monday.
Fannie, the giant government-sponsored enterprise that buys mortgages and package them into securities, has been pressing BOA to buy back a pile of souring loans made between Jan. 1, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2008 that were poorly underwritten. The bulk of those mortgages came from Countrywide Mortgage, which was acquired by BOA in 2008.
As part of the settlement, BOA agreed to pay $1.3 billion to Fannie Mae to make up for dropping the ball on servicing mortgages for Fannie Mae by delaying contacts with delinquent borrowers or failing to process foreclosures properly.