John Walsh: Foreclosure settlement, consent orders do not conflict
John Walsh, acting Comptroller of the Currency, said the recent $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement reached between the big banks and state attorneys general does not conflict or double-up on requirements servicers have to follow in consent agreements banks signed with the OCC and other regulators last year.
In 2010, regulators, including the OCC, examined 14 large federally regulated mortgage servicers and thrifts.
Last year, the agencies issued enforcement orders against all 14 institutions forcing them to take steps to review their foreclosure review processes and to offer aid to borrowers who suffered from flawed foreclosure practices.
Walsh describes the federal agencies' actions as separate from the national mortgage servicing settlement, but gave assurances the two deals do not conflict or double-up on foreclosure enforcement measures.
"Questions have been raised about whether they are complementary or contradictory, and about whether they will result in duplication of effort or, alternatively, if one will hinder the other," Walsh said while speaking at the 2012 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference on Monday.
"These are reasonable and important questions, and there are good answers. Both our enforcement orders and the state-federal settlement are aimed at fixing the problems that have plagued the servicing business and the processing of foreclosures, and are therefore, a vital step toward restoring the housing and mortgage markets to normal operation. I’ve said from the beginning that it is not only possible, but absolutely necessary, that our separate actions be able to work well together. And I think we’ve succeeded in that."
Walsh said the consent agreement forces servicers to hire consultants to help the firms implement the orders. Similarly, the mortgage settlement forces servicing firms to appoint a special master in place to ensure all provisions of the agreement are met.
The consent orders issued last year also made room for borrowers to request foreclosure reviews if they are in a situation where they believe they were wrongfully foreclosed on.
"To date, over 121,000 borrower-initiated file review requests have been submitted," Walsh said. "Among the requests received so far, the majority of issues identified by borrowers involve loan modifications, incorrect mortgage balances, improper fees and payment processing issues."