New York Superintendent of Banks Richard Neiman Wednesday outlined the state’s strong major mortgage servicing rules at the Mortgage Bankers Association summit on the future of servicing working lunch in Washington, D.C. Neiman believes his state’s mortgage servicing regulations are as tight as anywhere in the country and should be a model regulators consider when developing a national standard for the industry. New York requires mortgage servicers to act in good faith when working with delinquent loans. They are also formally pushed to pursue alternatives to foreclosure such as modifications and short sales and make these decisions within specific timeframes. Third, servicers are required to hold adequate staffing and ensure regulators that homeowners do not have to send multiple copies of financial documentation. While considering a borrower for a trial modification, servicers are prohibited from pursuing a foreclosure in New York. And when it comes to decision making, modification approvals must be clear and understandable with the costs and terms written clearly. Any denials must state specifically why the borrower was denied and provide contact information for someone at the bank who can reconsider. But these new rules have not come easily. The foreclosure timeline in New York is the longest in the country, sometimes taking upward of two years to complete, data show. Ally Financial‘s (GJM) CEO of mortgage operations Tom Marano said at a previous panel discussion that gathering that documentation is “the biggest friction point.” “Assign one individual to the customer when he’s trying to fill out that package,” he said. “Getting the financial information and getting that counseling done up front is the best possible solution.” Marano admitted the servicing industry was not perfect. In fact, Ally was one of the first servicers caught with improperly filed foreclosure affidavits. But it also holds one of the largest conversion rates from trial modifications into permanent status for the Treasury Department‘s Home Affordable Modification Program. On Tuesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and other regulators announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were working with servicers to develop a national standard that may not be out until the summer of 2012. Neiman said regulators across different jurisdictions need to get on the same page in developing these new rules. He called for a renewed effort for agents and agencies across all levels of oversight to work together, and added that a template was already in place. “We believe our rules are the most comprehensive in the country,” Neiman said. Write to Jon Prior. For continual coverage of the MBA conference today, follow him on Twitter: @JonAPrior
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