Settlement Nets Nearly $32 Million in Relief to Iowa Homeowners

By Rod Boshart, Reporter

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By Ellen Kurt

DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa homeowners involved in a national mortgage settlement on average have received more than $33,000 in relief from the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers, according to a progress report issued Thursday by an independent settlement monitor.

So far, the five loan servicers -- JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC) – have provided nearly $32 million in settlement relief to 956 Iowa homeowners. Another 102 homeowners in Iowa currently are in trial modifications worth at least $1.7 million, according to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s Office.

Overall, the relief provided to Iowans nearly doubles the initial estimate announced one year ago, he said.

“At the time we announced the settlement we estimated that the five servicers would provide roughly $17.4 million in direct relief to Iowans. I’m very pleased to say that we’ve now nearly doubled that, and the amounts are still growing,” Miller said in a statement. “That’s terrific news for Iowa’s homeowners, our neighborhoods, and our state’s economy.”

In addition to the direct relief to homeowners, the state of Iowa received a direct payment of nearly $17.1 million that is being used mostly for mortgage assistance programs, such as Iowa Mortgage Help.

The progress report issued by independent settlement monitor Joseph A. Smith, Jr. of the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight also indicated that 454 Iowa homeowners received a total of $12.7 million in principal reductions, for an average of $28,000 per borrower. Also, 204 Iowa homeowners successfully obtained mortgage refinances through the settlement, which saved them $7.9 million in finance charges.

The direct relief is provided largely through an array of loan modifications, including principal reductions and refinancing. Other forms of relief include short sales and transitional assistance, forbearance of principal for unemployed borrowers, benefits for service members who are forced to sell their home at a loss as a result of a permanent change in station order, and other programs.

Miller was the lead state attorney general in the joint state-federal investigation that resulted in the landmark settlement into mortgage servicing practices by the nation’s five biggest mortgage servicers.

The investigation began in October of 2010 over reports of widespread “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents, and broadened into other troubling mortgage servicing practices. In addition to providing the direct borrower relief, the settlement also required servicers to adopt more than 300 new servicing standards.

More information on the agreement is available at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov (Phone: 515-281-5926 or 1-888-777-4590) or www.NationalMortgageSettlement.com.

Iowans currently behind on their monthly mortgage payment or experiencing financial trouble are advised to contact the Iowa Mortgage Help Hotline at 1-877-622-4866 toll free or www.IowaMortgageHelp.com.

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