On February 9, 2012, the federal government and several state attorneys general announced they had reached an agreement with the five largest mortgage lending companies in the country regarding the so-called "robo-signing" scandal of 2010. Authorities had discovered a host of improprieties in foreclosure activities, such as deficient documentation of debt ownership, filing foreclosure documents en masse without adequate review for accuracy and other shortcuts that resulted in some homeowners losing their homes without cause. The settlement that the government authorities reached with the lenders is supposed to help repair the damage that the foreclosure abuses wrought on some borrowers. Maryland's portion of the settlement is substantial and the state will offer four types of relief to homeowners in the state with those funds.
The agreement reached among Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial with the governments is a $25 billion deal. The terms of the settlement require the lenders to pay $5 billion in cash to state governments to help the states fund foreclosure relief programs and consumer protection agencies.
The banks also are going to dedicate $17 billion to reduce mortgage principles of homeowners with "underwater" mortgages over the next three years. Another $3 billion will go to helping homeowners refinance to take advantage of the historically low interest rates, and $1.5 billion more will go directly to the homeowners upon whom the banks improperly foreclosed.
Maryland will receive almost $1 billion of the settlement money. State officials hope to help about 40,000 homeowners with the funds. The state will offer four different types of assistance:
- About $24 million for Maryland homeowners who lost their homes as a result of foreclosure abuses, with each homeowner seeing about $1,800 to $2,000
- About $808 million in national homeowner relief options such as principal reductions and loan modifications
- About $64 million in refinancing options for those who are current in their mortgage payments but owe more on their loans than what their houses are worth
- About $60 million to the state attorney general's office for use on housing-related projects, housing counselors and legal assistance for homeowners
Talk to an Attorney
Not all struggling Maryland homeowners will benefit from the settlement. If you are struggling to pay your mortgage and are worried about foreclosure, talk to an experienced foreclosure defense lawyer who can discuss your options with you.