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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Foreclosure Fraud 2: Loan Modifications First

The agenda for stopping foreclosure fraud has to address many aspects of the process.  One of the first problems is convincing banks to see that their best interest, rather than robotically following a set of foreclosure procedures, is often to renegotiate mortgages with homeowners.  The following is an excerpt from our detailed proposals to the Attorneys General.

TO:  Attorney General Tom Miller


RE:  Problems in U.S. Mortgage Servicing & Needed Solutions

DATE:  February 9,2011 (REVISED)

CC:  Other 49 State Attorneys General

Problem: Servicers are not making affordable loan modifications that benefit both homeowners and the housing market, even when modification would provide a greater return to investors than a foreclosure.

Mandatory Loan Modification
When a loan becomes delinquent or when a borrower provides their servicer with notice that default is imminent, the servicer must review the mortgage loan to see if an affordable loan modification can be made. If a loan modification is in the best interest of the homeowner and investor, then the servicer is compelled to offer a modification.
Mandatory Principal Reduction
If the balance on a loan exceeds the current market value of the house the first step must be to reduce the principal to 100%. Recapture of forgiven amount may not exceed 50% of the increase in market value as determined by a third party appraisal.

Junior Liens Extinguished or Reduced
For any junior lien that is entirely underwater, even if it is not in default, the servicer must extinguish that lien according to the payoff schedule. For other junior liens, all liens must be reduced proportionately to meet the CLTV cap.

Transparent, Fair, Appealable Net Present Value (NPV) Calculation
Each servicer must provide public access to the NPV Test that it uses in making a loan modification determination. Inputs of general applicability (default rate for a community, locally specific appraisal, foreclosure costs, etc.) must also be made public. NPV calculation must be appealable by the homeowner for errors and misinformation.
     The servicer must disclose the property value of the home that it has used for purposes of determining the terms of the modification and the methodology used to determine the property value. If the homeowner disputes the property value and can give basis for the dispute and show that disputed difference is material, the servicer must conduct an independent appraisal of the property at servicer's expense.

Fair Application of Fees
All foreclosure and default related fees and costs must be waived in determining the new principal balance for the loan modification.

Reasonable Debt-to Income and Residual Income Calculations
Affordability should be based on a debt-to-income ratio range and a residual income test. The front-end debt-to-income ratio for modifications should be between 25-31%. The back end ratio, which should include all other secured and unsecured debts and medical expenses, should not exceed 46-60% based on circumstances. A residual income schedule that accounts for geographical differences in cost of living shall be set to ensure that borrowers have sufficient residual to pay other necessary living expenses regardless of front or back-end ratio calculations.

All Modifications Permanent
All modifications must be at a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan.

No Release of Liability
No modification can include a waiver of any legal claims of the homeowner.

Affirmative Outreach
Affirmative outreach provisions should be put in place requiring servicers to alert borrowers of the terms of the settlement, search for and reach out to eligible borrowers with proposed loan modifications, including door to door contact in heavily impacted census tracts.
The next post will deal with the conflicting internal operations of mortgage servicers and banks who simultaneously start foreclosure procedings and negotiate potential modifications with homeowners.

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