New York Banking Department pressures mortgage servicers on foreclosure documents
The New York State Banking Department Wednesday sent a letter to 20 mortgage servicers operating in the state to review the affidavits used in foreclosure proceedings. As of Oct. 7, more than 76,744 90-day pre-foreclosure notices were sent to New York homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments since May 31. A total of 134,000 pre-foreclosure notices have been sent since data collection began on Feb. 13. The department now requires the mortgage servicers conduct internal reviews of their foreclosure practices and suspend foreclosure actions until a thorough analysis has been completed. Under the 2009 Mortgage Foreclosure law within the state, the banking department has wider regualtory powers in dealing with mortgage servicers and sets a general code of conduct when these companies deal with distressed borrowers. For example, the department forbids foreclosures on mortgages going through the federal Home Affordable Modification Program. The NY Banking Department is requiring documentation on the process mortgage servicers use for verifying foreclosure affidavits. The department joins 49 state attorneys general and 37 banking and mortgage regulators as part of a multi-state group that is investigating the foreclosure practices of mortgages servicers throughout the country. "At a time when we need to be doing everything that we can to avoid preventable foreclosures and keep families in their homes, it is incredibly irresponsible that some servicers are not doing the bare minimum of following existing laws and properly verifying foreclosure documents," said Richard Neiman, superintendent of banks for New York State. On Aug. 6, the banking department launched an online system, making it easier for lenders, assignees and mortgage servicers to file information pertaining to pre-foreclosure notices with the department. This, along with the addition of about 200 mortgage-loan servicers to the system, led to an increase in the volume of filings submitted to the banking department each week. The four counties with the highest number of pre-foreclosure filings on owner-occupied, multi-family properties in the state remained the same as in the last report issued June 10. Suffolk County topped the list with cumulative total of 19,880 pre-foreclosure notices followed by Queens with 15,184, Nassau with 13,611, and Brooklyn with 11,037 from Feb. 13 to May 31. Westchester replaced Erie as the county with the fifth-highest cumulative total of 6,309 notices. Write to Jacob Gaffney.