We already knew the Obama administration wants to push through a massive settlement over mortgage-servicing breakdowns.The talk had been that the government wanted to force the nation’s biggest banks to shell out more than $20 billion in fines, or to at least fund the same amount in loan modifications for troubled borrowers.
Now that number is looking closer to $30 billion, Huffpo reports, and it’s apparently being called a “shock and awe” campaign behind closed doors.
The administration wants to force Bank of America, JP Morgan, Citi, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial (which handle three out of every five home loans) “to reduce monthly payments for as many as three million distressed homeowners in as little as six months,” Huffpo reports.
Banks would face harsh sanctions if they don’t meet their quotas; the administration wants to make it so that sanctions for noncompliance will cost lenders more than modifying the mortgages.
Part of the multi-agency probe into abusive mortgage practices by American lenders, the plan has four main aims: punish banks for violating state law and federal law; provide assistance to distressed borrowers; stabilise the housing market; and deter lenders from from abusing homeowners in the future.
The administration reportedly wants a quick resolution to the investigation and “is putting pressure on the small group of state attorneys general leading their investigation to wrap it up.”
The government is hoping their proposal will reduce mortgage payments or at least lower balances for the 4.7 million delinquent homeowners throughout the country, who have narrowly managed to avoid foreclosure so far.
“That would then kick-start the healing process needed to clear the large overhang of repossessed and soon-to-be-foreclosed homes that’s depressing house prices and sapping consumer confidence,” sources told Huffpo.
Of course the deal is far from done. Apart from the banks themselves, who think that they’re not the only ones who should be penalised (they think Fannie and Freddie should bear some of the brunt), the government needs to convince a ton of federal and state agencies who are resisting, notably the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and opposing Republicans.
Sen. Richard Shelby said the administration’s plan is tantamount to a “shakedown” and Rep. Randy Neugebauer said it “verges on extortion.”
And the details haven’t been confirmed yet either. Still to be streamlined is the “target number of restructured home loans, the total fines to be levied, which mortgages would be modified and how so.”
From the Huffpo,
And the 50 state attorneys general, who are pursuing a separate investigation but are working with federal authorities, have yet to even negotiate with the targeted lenders, let alone agree on a single strategy to penalise banks that broke state laws in pursuing improper foreclosures, officials said. They, too, have held limited discussions on the structure of a homeowner assistance program.
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