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OCC: $2.6B foreclosure review checks cashed

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Nearly 3 million people have cashed or deposited more than $2.6 billion in checks related to the Independent Foreclosure Review settlement, with the mass mailing finally nearing its close.

From the beginning, regulators intended to wrap up the settlement by summer's end.

The checks mailed are tied to a massive deal struck with 13 different mortgage servicers earlier in the year. The settlement ended a massive probe enacted by various consent orders signed by mortgage servicers and prudential regulators back in 2011. The investigations, which were conducted by outside consulting firms, were designed to review individual loan files to find and document foreclosure processing issues.

However, the long-drawn out process, and the $2 billion in expenses associated with it, proved too tenuous, resulting in a $9.3 billion settlement that effectively ended the reviews. About $3.6 billion was slated to go to borrowers, prompting the mass mailings that kicked off in the spring.

As a whole, almost 4.2 million checks associated with these 13 servicers have been issued, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said.

The remaining 37,000 checks will be delivered later this summer, the regulator added.

In addition, GMAC Mortgage also reached an agreement with the Federal Reserve Board in July, resulting in $230 million paid to 232,000 borrowers.

The checks compensate borrowers with loans in any stage of the foreclosure process during the years 2009 and 2010.

The IFR settlement remains the subject of much debate, with lawmakers still looking for details on how the settlement amounts were reached and for data on the reviews conducted in 2012.

Thomas Curry, Comptroller of the Currency, publicly defended the agency's mutual decision with other regulators to end the process of reviewing foreclosures for signs of deception and document mishandling.

While speaking in front of a Women in Housing and Finance conference earlier in the year, Curry said agencies "came to the realization that maintaining our course would significantly delay compensation without appreciable benefit to the affected borrowers. I decided we needed to change direction, and the Federal Reserve came to the same conclusion."

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