Brown Joins HomeOwnership Center Director to Outline Independent Foreclosure Review Process and Highlight Benefits for Ohio Homeowners
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Only 6,000 of the 140,000 eligible Ohioans have initiated a foreclosure review process which could put as much as $125,000 in their pockets. During a news conference call today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) alerted more than 140,000 Ohioans whose homes were foreclosed on in 2009 and 2010 to the Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) process which awards financial assistance to borrowers who were foreclosed on because of errors or misrepresentations by lenders. Requests for review must be submitted by Sept. 30, 2012.
“Too many Ohioans lost their homes to foreclosure—often because servicers had poorly maintained, lost, or forged documentation,” Brown said. “That’s why the Independent Foreclosure Review process is so important. It will help borrowers who were foreclosed on because of inaccuracies and oversights by providing lump sum payments, suspending foreclosure, enabling loan modification, or correcting a credit report.”
Brown was joined by Beth Deutscher, executive director of the HomeOwnership Center in Dayton, to outline the IFR process and highlight the benefits for Ohio homeowners. Brown also released a county-by-county map of the number of Ohio homeowners who are eligible to apply for the IFR and outline steps to initiate the process.
Eligible homeowners could receive compensation up to $125,000 if:
- the lender never solicited a loan modification,
- a loan modification was denied in error, or
- the borrower was not in default at the time foreclosure was initiated.
Borrowers are eligible for an independent foreclosure review if they meet the following criteria:
- the property securing the loan was the borrower's primary residence;
- the mortgage was in the foreclosure process (initiated, pending, or completed) at any time between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010; and
- the mortgage was serviced by one of the following mortgage servicers:
- America's Servicing Company
- Aurora Loan Services
- BAC Home Loans Servicing
- Bank of America
- EMC Mortgage Corporation
- EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company
- Financial Freedom
- GMAC Mortgage
- IndyMac Mortgage Services
- MetLife Bank
- National City Mortgage
- PNC Mortgage
- Sovereign Bank
- SunTrust Mortgage
- U.S. Bank
- Wachovia Mortgage
- Washington Mutual (WaMu)
- Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
- Wilshire Credit Corporation
Eligible homeowners can send a completed Request for Review Form by mail or submit online anytime at independentforeclosurereview.com. The Request for Review Form must be postmarked or submitted online no later than September 30, 2012. For assistance in requesting a review, borrowers can contact a housing counseling organization or call 1-888-952-9105 Monday through Friday, 8AM–10 PM. or Saturday, 8 AM–5 PM.
Brown is working to improve the IFR process and ensure that Ohioans receive the assistance and compensation they deserve. Today, Brown sent a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the agency that oversees the IFR program, calling for an appeals process to be made available for borrowers.
“As mentioned by the OCC, the purpose for the IFR is to give homeowners an opportunity to seek redress from servicers for any errors, misrepresentations, or any other discrepancies in the foreclosure process that led to an unwarranted foreclosure filing,” Brown wrote. This lack of an opportunity to appeal the decisions made by the independent consultants fails to provide aggrieved homeowners with recourse and review in the event that their claims are mistakenly rejected.”
Brown, chair of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, is a leading proponent of providing assistance to communities affected by the housing crisis and population loss. Brown’s Foreclosure Fraud and Homeowner Abuse Prevention Act would address many of the most common problems homeowners face when trying to modify their loans, would require banks to consider modification before proceeding to foreclosure, and would ensure adequate procedures and staffing levels to modify loans.
In July 2010, Brown sent a letter to the executives of the nation's four largest banks calling on them to work with responsible homeowners to avoid foreclosure. Brown fought for the creation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and the continuation of the program in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.
Full text of the letter to OCC is below.
July 25, 2012
Mr. Thomas J. Curry
Comptroller of the Currency
Administrator of National Banks
Washington, D.C. 20219
Dear Mr. Curry:
I write today to express my considerable concern regarding the Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) process.
I am writing you because the IFR process prohibits homeowners from appealing the outcome of IFR decisions. This lack of an opportunity to appeal the decisions made by the independent consultants fails to provide aggrieved homeowners with recourse and review in the event that their claims are mistakenly rejected.
As mentioned by the OCC, the purpose for the IFR is to give homeowners an opportunity to seek redress from servicers for any errors, misrepresentations, or any other discrepancies in the foreclosure process that led to an unwarranted foreclosure filing. Absent an appeals process, homeowners must rely on the assumption that the independent consultants did not make any errors in their review. Additionally, since the independent consultants are retained by the servicers, homeowners have no guarantee that their IFR was conducted in an unbiased manner. The result is that homeowners who have lost their homes – in part due to servicers’ errors – are being asked to trust a process that lacks any review mechanism.
I recognize and appreciate that the OCC has taken steps to make the IFR process fair, thorough, detailed, and transparent, but in order to fully verify that all aggrieved homeowners are properly remedied an appeals process must be made available.
I urge you to establish an appeals process for IFRs. Thank you for considering my views on this important matter.
United States Senator