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Fannie directs servicers toward new foreclosure attorneys, away from trustees

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Fannie Mae expanded its retained attorney network to 13 new states and the nation's capital, directing servicers operating in those areas to use attorneys not trustees to navigate recently complicated foreclosure processes. The 14 new jurisdictions include Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and the District of Columbia. Servicers must direct all foreclosures and bankruptcy referrals to the attorneys Fannie Mae designated in these areas beginning May 1, according to guidance released this week. The network now contains every state in the country except Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. Fannie made the point to single out Nevada. There, the process has become suddenly more complicated as the state has adopted a mediation process when foreclosures are done. As a result, Fannie Mae servicers can no longer directly use a trustee in the state or in any other new jurisdiction. If the appointed attorney in the network wishes to use a trustee in a straight-forward case, the referral must come from the attorney, a Fannie Mae spokesperson told HousingWire. "The company added a number of states to its retained attorney network, including Nevada," the spokesperson said. "In all recently-added states, we require that the foreclosure referral be made to one of the law firms in the network." Nevada has held the highest foreclosure rate of any state for the past four years. One in 93 homes in the city received a filing in January, according to RealtyTrac. At the end of 2010, Fannie held 4,895 REO properties in Nevada, nearly double the more than 2,600 REO properties the year before, according to the GSE's fourth-quarter financial supplement. "The foreclosure process has become much more complicated," the spokesperson said. "We are just looking to streamline the process as attorneys are better equipped to handle the changes." In the guidelines, Fannie reminded servicers that they are obligated to manage and monitor "all aspects of the performance of any retained attorney." If the servicer fails at this, and Fannie Mae experiences losses because the servicer did not adequately monitor how the attorney was handling the process, the servicer could be hit with compensatory fees, which it prohibited from seeking reimbursement for from the attorney. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter: @JonAPrior

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