Deadline for free foreclosure review program ends in less than 30 days, could affect thousands in Milwaukee

By Lynda Jones

Trena Bond, executive director of Housing Resources, Inc. and Alderman Joe Davis
held a joint press conference. (Photo by Robert A. Bell)

Thousands of Milwaukee residents could miss out on an opportunity to participate in a program that was the result of federal regulators issuing enforcement orders against 14 large mortgage services for deficient mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices.

The orders required those servicers to retain independent consultants to conduct comprehensive review of foreclosures that were in process or completed in 2009 or 2010 (the Independent Foreclosure Review) to identify financial injury to borrowers that resulted from errors, misrepresentations, and other deficiencies in the foreclosure process.

Getting the message to Milwaukee residents, especially minorities has been extremely poor. Mailers were sent out to some residents back in June, yet many may not have realized what the mailers were for. While other cities, such as Chicago have had many newspaper full page print ads in community newspapers, Milwaukee has not. Alderman Joe Davis, who represents an area hit hard by the foreclosure crisis has taken a stand and is determined to help get the word out on this program.

“A December 31, 2012 deadline for the Independent Foreclosure Review Program (IFRP) could affect thousands of eligible Milwaukee mortgage holders who may have been victimized by improper lending practices and/or services”, according to Alderman Joe Davis, Sr.

Alderman Davis, chair of the Common Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee, held a joint news conference on the matter with officials from Housing Resources, Inc. on the first floor rotunda at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St.

Trena Bond, executive director of Housing Resources, Inc. said that HRI has been working diligently during the past several years to assist homeowners with mortgage delinquency issues or those who are facing foreclosure. Recently, HRI received notice that the Independent Foreclosure Review will be ending at the end of 2012.

According to Bond, The Independent Foreclosure Review is being required as part of the consent order with federal bank regulators. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) (independent bureaus of the U.S. Department of the Treasury), and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) issued the consent order against 14 mortgage servicers and their affiliates. The Independent Foreclosure Review applies to those servicers’ customers who were part of a foreclosure action on their primary residence during the period of January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010.

Alderman Davis said HRI has indicated that the purpose of the review is to provide eligible borrowers with the opportunity to request an independent review of their foreclosure process. If the review finds that financial injury occurred as a result of errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in the servicer’s foreclosure process, the borrower may receive compensation or other remedy.

The participating mortgage servicers have been working with federal banking regulators and independent third party consultants to create a process that ensures all eligible borrowers are treated consistently, and receive a fair and impartial review of their foreclosure. The foreclosure process does not necessarily include the final sale of the home. The homeowner can still be in their home and be eligible. The mortgage loan may be eligible if the home was the owner’s primary residence and was in the foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010 with one of the participating mortgage servicers.

Foreclosure actions include any of the following occurrences on a primary residence between the above dates:

  1. The property was sold due to a foreclosure judgement.
  2. The mortgage loan was referred into the foreclosure process but was removed from the process because payments were brought up-todate or the borrower entered a payment plan or modification program.
  3. The mortgage loan was referred into the foreclosure process, but the home was sold or the borrower participated in a short sale or chose a deed-in-lieu or other programs to avoid foreclosure.
  4. The mortgage loan was referred into the foreclosure process and remains delinquent but the foreclosure sale has not yet taken place.

To know if you are eligible for the Independent Foreclosure Review your loan must meet the following initial criteria:

  1. Your mortgage loan was serviced by one of the 14 mortgage servicers or any subsideries of these providers. (For a list of the 14 mortgage servicers visit www.IndendentForeclosureReview.com or call 1-888-952-9105.
  2. Your mortgage loan was active in foreclosure process between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010.
  3. The property was your primary residence.

People who believe that they meet these requirements listed should call the number or visit the website information given above. Independent parties will be directing and monitoring the review process.

Any Request for Review Form must be submitted by December 31, 2012 to determine if one is eligible to request a free Independent Foreclosure Review.