Six Degrees of Separation from Bank of America

Most homeowners are closer to Bank of America than to Kevin Bacon.  As the largest US bank, most home loans have very little degree of separation (if any) from Bank of America, even if they did not start there. Bank of America took on the good, the bad, and the ugly when they took over Countrywide in 2008.  (Turns out there was a lot more ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’ than Countrywide ever disclosed.)  So far the tab is up to about $40 billion for Bank of America to settle claims of mortgage misconduct prior to the acquisition…and there are allegations that Bank of America continued some poor practices of Countrywide after the merger. You may not be able to blame Bank of America completely, but you can ask them to prove their foreclosure case against you.  While they are digging up records on your loan, you can pursue a short sale or loan modification—an outcome that will look better on your credit score than a big ‘F’ for ‘Foreclosure.’ You can probably reach Kevin Bacon faster than you can get a short sale or loan modification.  However, if you can complete an alternative ending before Bank of America finishes the foreclosure […] Read More

Not Too Late to File Your Claim on the National Foreclosure Settlement

Yes, the deadline has passed, but if you are one of the eligible borrowers, you can still file your paperwork to receive about $1,000.  At a press conference Thursday, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi urged Floridians who have not filed their claim for the National Foreclosure Settlement against the five largest banks to do so, despite the January 18 deadline. An estimated 167,398 borrowers statewide are eligible to receive a direct payment sometime this summer from the settlement that was the result of a national lawsuit against Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally Financial.  However, only about half of those borrowers have filed a claim as of the original deadline earlier this month. Eligible Florida borrowers lost a home due to foreclosure between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011 and had their mortgages serviced by Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, or Ally Financial.  Settlement recipients are expected to receive about $1,000 (the amount depends on how many claims are filed). Contact the Florida Attorney General’s office for more information at Read More

Today is the Deadline to Claim National Foreclosure Settlement

As of Wednesday, only about forty-five percent of eligible Florida borrowers have sent in their claim forms to receive their piece of the $25 billion foreclosure settlement, according to a release by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.  TODAY is the deadline to have those forms completed and returned.  You can also file online at If you are one of the 167,398 Florida borrowers who lost a home due to foreclosure between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011 and had your mortgage serviced by Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally is the first day of the rest of your money. Eligible claimants will receive a minimum of $840, but that amount is expected to increase.  The payments will be the same amount for all eligible borrowers and will depend on the number of claims received.  The checks are expected to be in the mail this summer. The $25 billion foreclosure settlement is part of a lawsuit brought by most of the States in the Union against the five largest mortgage servicers—Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally Financial.  Florida’s share was about $170 million for cash payments to Florida […] Read More

The $25 Billion Foreclosure Settlement–Where Is It Now?

If $25 billion were stacked in one-dollar bills, would it reach the moon?  More importantly, will that foreclosure settlement reach the borrowers it is intended for? In 2012, a nationwide lawsuit against five of the largest mortgage servicers (Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally Financial) resulted in a foreclosure settlement of $25 billion, with $8.4 billion of that as Florida’s share. About $300 million of Florida’s share has been in an escrow account since April, and will remain there until after the Joint Legislative Budget Commission meets this month. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is looking to disburse $60 million to fund down payment assistance, foreclosure-related legal assistance and counseling, state court initiatives to ease the foreclosure backlog (at 379,577 cases statewide as of September) and enforcement efforts. Meanwhile, if you are one of the 167,398 Florida borrowers eligible to receive part of the national settlement, remember to return your completed claim form by January 18, 2013.  (For more information or questions, you can contact the settlement administrator at 1-866-430-8358. The line is staffed Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Central.  Email:  Settlement payments are expected to be mailed by mid-2013. Read More

Countrywide Complaint

What have Americans suffered from more than flu?  Answer:  Countrywide Home Loans.  An estimated 15 to 60 million get the flu each year in the US, and all US taxpayers are affected by the fraudulent practices of mortgage lending as the Federal Government has poured public monies into aid programs, such as TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program).  Once the primary supplier of residential mortgage loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Countrywide is now under investigation for the “Hustle” they pulled on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Allegedly:  The “Hustle” began in 2007 as a Countrywide initiative called “High-Speed Swim Lane” a.k.a. “HSSL” a.k.a. “Hustle.”  Its goals were high speed and high volume, which it accomplished by reducing quality control, eliminating fraud prevention, expanding loan processor authority, and financially rewarding loan processors based on volume regardless of quality. Then Countrywide knowingly sold large numbers of risky and defective loans to Freddie and Fannie…without disclosing the problems or risks. Countrywide merged into Bank of America in 2008 and BOA was quick to pick up the Hustle.  As more loans defaulted, loan processors continued to override underwriters and falsified information going to Freddie and Fannie about the quality of the loans they […] Read More

Smoke & Mirrors in Forclosure

One in every 681 housing units was served foreclosure papers nationwide this August according to RealtyTrac.  That is not a record number, but it is an ongoing number, and one which partly reflects problems in the foreclosure process. Florida just received its portion of a $25 billion national settlement with the five largest mortgage servicers.  Why?  Because the court found that Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, and Ally Financial had employed robo-signers who were more signatory than sincere about verifying the facts of the foreclosure cases to which they signed. Problems in documents during the boom years of real estate have led to document doctoring during the bust for some loans.  That makes foreclosure cases worth examining.  Even if you owe money and you know you owe money, you may have a legitimate complaint with the way your mortgage was handled, or the proper party owed. Furthermore, a foreclosure defense not only looks at the legal aspect of your loan, it also gives you a chance to seek a resolution (like mortgage modification or short sale) while you request that the lender to go beyond the smoke and mirrors and check the actual documentation. For August, […] Read More

The Settlement of Florida Foreclosures

Florida was settled about 500 years ago by the Spanish…and before that, by the Indians.  Earlier this year it has been settled in a landmark case joining with most other states against Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally Financial. The lawsuit opens like a map of the United States in alphabetical order with the District of Columbia at the tail.  It condemns the five largest mortgage servicers of “misconduct [which] resulted in the issuance of improper mortgages, premature and unauthorized foreclosures, violation of service members’ and other homeowners’ rights and protections, the use of and false and deceptive affidavits and other documents, and the waste and abuse of taxpayer funds” (Case 1:12-cv-00361-RMC Document 4-1). The outcome was a foreclosure settlement of $2.5 billion, with $8.4 billion of that as Florida’s share.  According to Florida Attorney General Pam Biondi, “This agreement holds banks accountable and puts in place new protections for homeowners in the form of strict mortgage servicing standards,” which includes a single point of contact for borrowers re-negotiating their loans. The terms break down as follows from the Florida Attorney General’s website: Florida borrowers will receive an estimated $7.6 billion in benefits from loan […] Read More

Foreclosure Wave Theory

Is El Nino causing unusually warm temperatures on the Foreclosure rate heat map? Since January 2007, the US has experienced more than 8.5 million foreclosure starts (and over 4 million completions).  Florida remains only second to California in foreclosure activity, with one out of 364 housing units in foreclosure statewide.  Closer to home, the breakdown is more poignant in Clay County, where one out of every 301 homes is in foreclosure, but Duval still remains in the top ten metro areas of the state in foreclosures. There is an ebb and flow as the foreclosure procedure evolves in the justice system.  For instance, we saw an ebb in the Fall of 2010 when Bank of America and others halted foreclosures to sure up subject matter jurisdiction.  They paused, got their paperwork straight, then proceeded.  And now the Florida Supreme Court is examining voluntary dismissal of foreclosure cases.  If the lender realizes he is committing fraud or otherwise cannot win, he can voluntarily dismiss his case and then re-file without waiting for a judge’s dismissal and hoping for “without prejudice.”  This is the judicial system evolving, working through procedures. You may not be able to turn the tide, but Foreclosure Defense […] Read More