Fourteen U.S. mortgage servicers and their affiliates are making available a free, "impartial" Independent Foreclosure Review process (website – Independent Foreclosure Review) to certain of their borrowers, as part of certain consent orders entered into with federal bank regulators, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

The review process was put into place by the regulators to determine how many borrowers were harmed by faulty procedures including: robo-signing, dual-track foreclosures, and a shortage of qualified staff to work with delinquent borrowers.  The process has been set up to identify customers who were part of a foreclosure action on their primary residence during the period of January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010. The reviews will span nearly 4.5 million loan files and could take up to a year to complete, according to Acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh.

If eligible borrowers believe that they were financially injured as a result of servicer errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process on their primary residence, they can request a review of their foreclosure file to verify that their foreclosure process was handled properly.

An estimated 4.5 million borrowers will be notified by a letter explaining the review process and a Request for Review Form. The mailings will be staggered to better manage volumes in stages beginning Nov. 1, 2011, with an ad campaign to follow. A 1-800 number has been established as well.  A review administrator will allegedly send a confirmation one week after the borrower sends in a five-page request form.

Joe Evers, deputy comptroller for large banks at the OCC, said a remediation plan is still under development to determine how borrowers will be paid. He added that it could take months to figure out how to do that and it was difficult to estimate when a borrower would receive a check.  "It will be a lengthy process," Evers said.

The OCC said it would release the names of the independent consultants soon. The consent orders did leave room for a fine, but Evers said the fine will be determined after the reviews are completed.

So, another government led program aimed at addressing the fallout from the financial crisis brought on by the ramp up of securitization of home mortgages.  It appears that the Independent Foreclosure Review will be a time-consuming procedural morass that has no pre-defined mechansim for determining what remedies will be made available to eligilble homeowners.  Let’s hope the various attorneys general are able to reach a substantive settlement with lenders and servicers that has some meat to it.

The list of participating servicers includes:

  • America’s Servicing Co.
  • Aurora Loan Services
  • Bank of America
  • Beneficial
  • Chase
  • Citibank
  • CitiFinancial
  • CitiMortgage
  • Countrywide
  • EMC
  • EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company
  • GMAC Mortgage
  • HFC
  • HSBC
  • IndyMac Mortgage Services
  • MetLife Bank
  • National City Mortgage
  • PNC Mortgage
  • Sovereign Bank
  • SunTrust Mortgage
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wachovia Mortgage
  • Washington Mutual (WaMu)
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.