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Banks say they have given billions in homeowner relief PDF Print E-mail
Articles | Business
Written by Morphus on Thursday, 22 November 2012 13:32   

Joseph A. Smith Jr., the former North Carolina banking commissioner hired by the government to ensure the banks follow through on their promises, reported that more than 300,000 homeowners have benefitted so far, for an average of roughly $84,385 per borrower.

“I’m encouraged,” Smith said in an interview Monday morning. “There’s pretty good evidence that they’re on track to complete their obligations sooner rather than later. . . . I think it does show that the relief is going to be significant.”

The aid undertaken by the five banks involved in the settlement — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Ally Financial and Citigroup — has taken various forms, from lowering loan balances to completing growing numbers of short sales to helping refinance many homeowners into mortgages with much lower interest rates.

Each bank is responsible for providing a set amount of aid under the terms of the settlement, but different kinds of relief receive different amounts of credit. In general, banks received more credit for providing aid during the first year of the settlement and for activities such as reducing principal on loans and refinancing mortgages. Short sales, in which a bank agrees to sell the property for less than the borrower owes and forgive any remaining debt, are not credited dollar for dollar.

Given those incentives, banks have been eager to complete their relief obligations well before the three-year requirement in the settlement. Bank of America said last week, for instance, that it had either “completed or approved” nearly $16 billion in consumer relief for about 164,000 homeowners and expected to meet its obligations within the first year of the deal.

Still, some consumer advocates have argued that there has been too little relief and that what aid has come is not reaching reaching those homeowners most in need.


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