Foreclosed Homeowners Get More Time to Request a Review
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that they are extending the deadline for qualified borrowers to ask for an investigation of possible malpractice in their foreclosure cases. Borrowers now have until July 31, 2012, to request review. The deadline had been April 30.
The two agencies said they extended the deadline to "encourage the broadest participation possible" in the program, according to a joint statement.
The announcement comes on the heels of another directive recently announced that also is designed to offer restitution to homeowners for foreclosure misdeeds. A $25 billion settlement reached between the nation's five largest mortgage servicers and state attorneys general may funnel an average of $2,000 to homeowners who illegally lost their homes to foreclosure during the period from Jan. 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2011.
Consumers may learn more about the extended review program, which is free, by visiting http://independentforeclosurereview.com/, or calling 1-888-952-9105.
While the program represents an earnest effort by the government to protect borrowers, consumer advocates have raised concerns over the execution of the reviews. They claim the auditors selected to conduct the reviews face a conflict of interest, since many of them have worked with the banks that they are commissioned to investigate.
"The independent auditors that have been selected all have longstanding relationships with the banks and are interested in protecting those banks," Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates told The Huffington Post.
3.2 million Americans have been kicked out of their homes by banks since the housing meltdown, according to analytics firm CoreLogic. Against the backdrop of ramped-up government oversight, foreclosures plummeted in 2011. But the settlement has offered clarity to banks regarding what they can and cannot do when foreclosing on borrowers, experts say, making it likely that they will move forward with foreclosures that they had previously put on hold. Recent statistics lend credence to the prediction.
The foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac this week reported an uptick in foreclosure filings last month, a trend which it predicts will continue for the year.
Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, told CNNMoney that he expects new foreclosure filings to jump from 1.9 million in 2011 to between 2.2 million and 2.5 million in 2012.
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