Archive for May, 2013

Lawsuits – Mortgage Modification

A mortgage loan consists of an amount of money which is borrowed to purchase property and then repaid over a period of time (typically 15 or 30 years). The full amount or principal is repaid along with interest according to the payment structure of the loan.

Mortgage modification alters the original terms of a mortgage that were laid out in the initial loan contract between the lending institution and the homeowner. It is typically used when the borrower is having trouble making payments per the agreed terms. The modification can change the amount of the monthly payment and interest rate as well as other items outlined in the contract such as principle, loan term, late fees etc.

The lending institution is usually motivated to offer a mortgage modification when the borrower is experiencing financial issues. They would rather offer improved terms and a lower payment as this offers greater profits than if the property went into foreclosure.

If the government (federal or state) gets involved they may offer the lending institution incentives to participate. The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) was introduced by the federal government during 2009 to help homeowners who were struggling with their mortgages. At the time there was approaching eight million homeowners in trouble. The program was designed to help homeowners by standardizing mortgage modification with the goal of lower monthly mortgage payments. Up to 110 lending institutions joined this program.

Mortgage Modification Lawsuits

The result of this was that many homeowners applied for a mortgage adjustment via HAMP after it was introduced by the Obama administration. Homeowners were put on a three month trial by their mortgage service providers at the new lowered payments. Many homeowners took part in the trial only to be refused permanent modification on completion – many were given no reason as to why.

Because of this many people are showing up behind in their mortgage payments and have reduced credit scores after all the effort. The result is that some of the lending institutions are threatening these borrowers with foreclosure.

Many of these homeowners have joined together in a class action lawsuit against some of the countries top lending institutions including Bank of America mortgage modification, Chase, Wells Fargo and CitiMortgage. This shows that borrowers are non too happy with the way they have been treated since enrolling in HAMP. It is estimated that only a third of those who entered the trial were given permanent status.

Many of the lawsuits state that the lending institutions broke the trial contracts by not giving permanent status to those that successfully completed the trial. The lenders state that the trials were never contracts and they used their discretion in choosing permanent partners.

It is also stated that the lenders contracts with HAMP and the Treasury were in breach for not offering permanent modification to those completing the trial. The judges involved have stated that homeowners should not be part of this because it is between the lenders and the government. The legal advisers to the homeowners do not agree with this – and the lenders broke the contracts with the homeowners.

These lawsuits could affect 620,000 involved in trial modifications. They state that the lenders benefited not providing permanent modification by defaulting the loans so they could make increased profits via late fees and financial charges. It is charged that the lenders ignored letters and requests and hindered inquiries when homeowners tried to contact them. All this after receiving billions from the government. Many borrowers were left in a worse state than prior to the modification. Many could not seek additional solutions to the problem and were faced with foreclosure.

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