School isn’t the only thing that’s out for the Summer. As it turns out, loan and mortgage servicers are getting “schooled” by HUD this Summer.
Well what do you know.
Earlier this week I blogged about the mortgage settlement documents and their stunning lack of detail on the frauds committed by the banks during the days of robosigning.
I was frustrated because it seems like the complete recklessness of the banks was being whitewashed in order for the settlement to go through.
Turns out I was just looking in the wrong place.
Just as the Department of Justice announced that the mortgage settlement had been filed in court, Housing and Urban Development released the results of a series of stinging audits, one for each lender in the settlement.
It was HUD’s investigation that helped lead to the settlement in the first place.
The settlement is hundreds and hundreds of pages. Most of the audits were around 10 pages long. Yet there is more harsh truth about how far the banks went to rob people of their homes in those select pages than in the entire settlement.
So what’s in these audits that is so damning?
Facts. Numbers. Witness Statements. And just how far the banks went keep the lid on how pervasive robosigning was
In other words, plenty to make your skin crawl. There’s no whitewashing here.
In Bank of America’s case, their attorneys interfered with HUD’s investigation, refusing to allow some of their employees to answer questions, sometimes stopping them mid-sentence.
Ally Financial’s attorneys made 18 current employees plead the fifth and blocked them from talking to investigators.
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We really haven’t seen President Obama insert himself directly into the housing crisis, but there are rumblings that he may do just that during Tuesday’s State of The Union address.
The fact is that is what homeowners have been clamoring for. A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found 58% of Americans want the government to do more to help people keep homes.
According to HousingWire, Ohio senator Sherrod Brown told reporters today that there was evidence that Obama would address the robo-signing case which involves several major banks. A North Carolina congressman even said there were rumours that Obama would announce a settlement, something HUD secretary Shaun Donovan suggested last week was ‘very close’, as we mentioned in our Week In Review on Friday.
For the record, Obama’s press secretary refused to confirm any details, saying only that the President was “focused on the issue of housing”.
Between Dononvan’s comments and the recent white paper sent out by the Federal Reserve, it seems that more and more top government officials are finally realizing how important the housing market is to our economic recovery, not to mention their own political survival.
This is not news to us here at the South Florida Law Blog.
In the Huffington Post last September, Roy Oppenheim called housing the “thousand pound gorilla in the room” in the 2012 election, as many of the states with the highest underwater mortgages, such asFlorida, are also key electoral swing states. The pressure on Obama to be more aggressive on the banks is growing in Washington, and it’s about time.
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In the absolutely-not-surprising-in-any-way file, one of the 300 homeowners who went before a Seminole County judge during a three day session this week thinks he was treated flimsily by the court.
Blaize McMonagle told ABC News that Judge Alan Dickey sped through his case without being given the chance to defend himself.
Dickey was quoted in the Orlando Sentinel earlier in the week stating that he was only going to be able to give each defendant about 30 seconds if everyone showed up. With retired judges no longer aiding to help navigate through the foreclosure backlog, we expect to see more and more complaints from homeowners.
Our skepticism about Florida’s Hardest Hit Program being able to help homeowners in the long-run was confirmed in the Palm Beach Post this week. Sheryl Stuart, a Jupiter homeowner enrolled in the federally-funded program since September said she had doubts she’d ultimately be able to stay in her home once the payments ended because the salary at her new job wouldn’t cover her mortgage.
We believe the program might only delay the inevitable, and only with substantive help like principal reduction will homeowners have a real chance to get back on their feet.
UPDATE: After Stuart was profiled by the Post, she found out her payments, which are set to end in February, are being suspended because she also owns two condos, which are also in foreclosure. She claims the credit counselor who helped her with application for Hardest Hit was aware of this and never informed her of the limit.