Loan servicers agree to settlement, help homeowners keep homes

Loan servicers like Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo recently agreed to a $25 billion settlement for borrowers struggling to keep their homes. The settlement was made with a group of state attorneys general.

These banks, along with other loan providers, were charged with wrongful foreclosure and other deceptive practices like taking illegal shortcuts when foreclosing on a homeowner’s property, according to Fox Business.

According to the executive summary, the settlement is intended to fund enhanced loan modifications, provide payments to victims of unfair foreclosure practices and fund counseling and foreclosure prevention programs. The money from the settlement is intended to benefit three different types of people: those who are current on their mortgage but owe more than the home is worth, those who need loan modifications and those who went through foreclosure.

It appears the settlement is already impacting the struggling housing market. As a result of the settlement, Bloomberg Businessweek reports private lenders increased the modifications they issued in the second quarter of 2012.

History of settlement

The settlement, outlined in the executive summary, is the result of an extensive investigation that began after the practice of “robo-signing” foreclosure documents was revealed in 2010. During the investigation, bank officials acknowledged that foreclosure affidavits were signed without going through the proper review process.

In addition to “robo-signing,” the investigation also found banks were using deceptive practices. These practices included telling a homeowner a loan modification was in the works while simultaneously moving forward with a foreclosure proceeding and failing to process homeowner’s requests for modifications.

Tips on fighting wrongful foreclosures

The settlement brings attention to the various options available for homeowners facing foreclosure.

Ideally, homeowners can begin the fight before a foreclosure process starts. It is important for homeowners to contact a lender before falling behind on payments. This provides an opportunity to begin a discussion on loan modification options that can help a homeowner get through a difficult economic situation.

Also, it is important to avoid foreclosure prevention companies. These companies offer to negotiate with a lender on behalf of the homeowner but often charge a large fee. Instead, contact a HUD approved housing counselor to discuss your financial situation and join in negotiations with your lender if needed.

Regardless of the reason for foreclosure, it is important to know that those facing foreclosure have legal options and can fight the proceeding. Every situation is unique. As a result, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced wrongful foreclosure lawyer to discuss your situation and better protect your legal rights.