According to a report released by the independent settlement monitor Joseph A. Smith Jr., the lenders to the mortgage settlement have paid out $26 billion to more than 300,000 homeowners. In February 2012, five big banks-- Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial, reached a deal with state and federal government negotiators to resolved issues related to the robo-signing scandal, which dominated news headlines in October 2010.
The robo-signing scandal alleges the lenders used deficient paperwork, illegal signatures and faulty procedures to illegal foreclosures on homeowners.
The average settlement amount is $84,385 per homeowners from 49 states and the District of Columbia. The State of Oklahoma worked out a separate settlement with the banks.
How the Settlement Works
The monitor’s report titled "Continued Progress: A Report from the Monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement” contains preliminary data released by the banks. Under the agreement, lenders will received full credit towards meeting the conditions by giving borrowers principal reductions on first mortgages and expediting payments in the first year of the settlement agreement, which explains their swift action to dole out the money.
For some of the other remedies, lenders will only receive partial credit. For example, the elimination of home equity loans may only result in the lenders receiving ten cents on the dollar.
Banks that forgive delinquent mortgage payments for an unemployed homeowner until the borrower can continue making the mortgage payment may only receive a credit of five cents on the dollar. Banks will not receive any credit for short sale transactions.
Details of Settlement Distribution
The banks released the data amidst concern voiced by housing advocates that the settlement is not nearly enough considering the harm to homeowners. According to some consumer activists, homeowners in communities that suffered the most have not benefited from the relief efforts.
One of the primary complaints issued by housing advocates concerns the low amounts of principal reductions in the payouts.
Following is the breakdown of the funds distributed by the lenders:
- 309,385 homeowners receives some form of financial relief from the five banks
- Total amount of the payments distributed - $26.11 billion
- Borrowers received an average settlement of $84, 385
- Completed mortgage modification for 21,833 homeowners resulted in an average mortgage debt reduction of $116,929
- Trial loan modifications, if completed, will cost the banks $4.19 billion, an average of $135,929 per homeowner
Lenders erased or modified $2.78 billion in lines of credits or home equity loans for 50,000 borrowers, which averaged $84,385 per loan. In addition, 37,396 borrowers received interest rate reductions or $1.44 billion. The average rate reduction was 2.34 percent --saving borrowers an average of $409 on their monthly payments.
Official Report Due Mid-2013
By the middle of 2013, the watchdog agency that oversees payments to homeowners, the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight, plans to release an audited account of the banks’ efforts. The audited report will determine if the lenders satisfy the terms of the settlement agreement and if they can be released from its legal obligations under the resolution.
The payouts only apply to loans held on the banks’ books and mortgages owned by bond investors who sign off on loan modifications. Mortgages insured or owned by the FHA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac do not qualify for relief.
The payouts do not preclude homeowners from pursuing other legal avenues if they have been harmed by the lenders’ actions.