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Three more mortgage servicers change foreclosures

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Three mortgage servicers agreed with the New York Department of Financial Services to make procedural changes similar to those of the consent orders signed by much larger institutions earlier in the year. The latest to adopt the changes are Saxon Mortgage Services, which was recently purchased by Ocwen Financial Corp. (OCN); American Home Mortgage Servicing; and Vericrest Financial. They are the same as the agreement Goldman Sachs (GS) signed with the department over Litton Loan Servicing, which was also sold to Ocwen. In April, federal regulators signed consent orders with the 14 largest servicers, requiring the same guidelines. Benjamin Lawsky, the New York superintendent of financial services, said the agreements will keep unlawful practices that surfaced in the industry last year from occurring again. The servicers agreed to end robo-signing, or signing affidavits en masse without reviewing the loan file. The servicers also agreed to correct weak oversight of foreclosure documents and to end the practice of foreclosing on a borrower while he or she is being evaluated for a modification. A single point of contact will be provided to borrowers throughout the delinquency and foreclosure process. For any borrower wrongfully foreclosed upon, the servicers will return the equity in the home or, if it was already sold, cut a check to the borrower. New standards will be installed to prevent duplicating late fees. The mortgage servicers also agreed to put better oversight in place for third-party vendors and attorneys. "Today's agreements are an important step forward in cleaning up some of the mortgage industry's most troubling practices," Lawsky said. "These new reforms are now spreading out into the industry at a time when homeowners truly need relief in the wake of the financial crisis. We will continue to do everything we can to make these reforms the norm in the servicing industry." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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