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National Mortgage Settlement to Hand Out Cash to Foreclosed-Out Homeowners

Most of the $26 billion or so in this national settlement is designed to help current homeowners keep their homes. But $1.5 billion of it will go to about 750,000 who have already lost their homes to foreclosure. That’s about $2,000 each.

Who’s included?

  • The entire settlement—including this foreclosure cash restitution payment—applies only to mortgages held by the five biggest home mortgage holders and their subsidiaries: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ally Financial/GMAC and Citi. To contact these banks to find out if your mortgage is included, go to the special website for this settlement for their toll-free phone numbers and websites. (See the right column, under “Settlement Parties.”)
  • Your home must have been “finally sold or taken in foreclosure between and including January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011.”
  • One state–Oklahoma—did not join in this settlement, so foreclosed homeowners in Oklahoma are not eligible for this payment.

 What are the conditions for receiving the money?

  • Although one section of the settlement website states that there’s “no requirement to prove financial harm,” the Executive Summary on the same website adds that eligible borrowers are those “who were not properly offered loss mitigation or who were otherwise improperly foreclosed on.” Sounds like some showing of improper servicing or foreclosure behavior by the bank will be required, without a need to prove that this behavior necessarily caused you financial harm. But exactly what information or evidence will be required is not clear yet.  
  • What is clear is that former homeowners will not need to release any potential claims against their mortgage holder in order to receive the money. The payment received would, however, be credited as an offset against any such other claim against the bank.

What’s the procedure and timetable?

  • Within about 90 days, a Settlement Administrator will be selected “to administer the distribution of cash to individual borrowers.”
  • Over the following six to nine months, that Administrator will work with the banks to identify the eligible former homeowners, and send out letters to them to apply for the payment.
  • If you are concerned about the Administrator having your current address, you should contact your Attorney General’s Office to have it send your address to the Administrator.
  • The amount to be distributed to each foreclosed homeowner will depend on how many people qualify and apply. And since the $1.5 billion or so pool of money paid by the banks towards these for payments also pays for “all the costs and expenses of the Administrator,” that reduces what will be available for the homeowners. (The actual amount of the pool, by the way, is actually exactly $1,489,813,925.00—I do not know the reason for that odd amount!).
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