Wednesday, November 29, 2023 2:46 am

[IN-DEPTH] Foreclosure settlement fails to force mortgage companies to clean up their act


‘We’re not seeing any changes in servicer behavior,’ says Megan Faux, director of the foreclosure prevention project at South Brooklyn Legal Services

By Peter S. Goodman

The Huffington Post

The U.S. foreclosure settlement with banks and 49 state attorneys general has so far failed to reform bank practices, according to those familiar with the process

NEW YORK — Katie Diaz arrives at the Bronx County Courthouse hoping for clarity, if not a reprieve from the foreclosure case threatening her home. Five months has passed since she submitted an application to Bank of America seeking lowered mortgage payments. She is eager for a decision -– an approval, a denial or at least a negotiation.

She gets none of these things. Instead, in the course of a perplexing morning spent beneath the dim chandeliers of Courtroom 607, she absorbs a display of the chaos that still besets the nation’s foreclosure proceedings, despite promises of improvement from major banks under a settlement with the Obama administration and state attorneys general.

Diaz, 52, is here for a settlement conference, a face-to-face meeting of lender and borrower mandated under the foreclosure process in New York state. As soon as she sits down at the wooden conference table, an attorney representing Bank of America confirms that she is under review for a loan modification. A few minutes later, the bank lawyer corrects himself: Her case has been closed, he says, because she supposedly never sent required documents. Fifteen minutes after that, he corrects himself again: Her file was never reviewed, because her paperwork has been sitting in the wrong office inside Bank of America.

“This file has just been sitting in a dead corner somewhere?” asks the man presiding over the conference, a court-appointed “referee” Steven Konigsberg. “No one has looked at it?”

The bank attorney, Tom Antel, nods reluctantly. “It was forwarded to the wrong place,” he says.

When Diaz’s lawyers press for an inventory of the documents in her file, Antel picks up his cell phone to ask the bank, only to land on hold. So passes nearly an hour in Bronx Supreme Court.

Antel eventually gives up, telling those assembled that the bank cannot locate Diaz’ complete records. He turns to Diaz. “Do you have a copy of your application on file?” he asks.

It has come to this in a courtroom in New York City. A lawyer working for Bank of America wants to know whether the woman whose home it is trying to take through foreclosure might perhaps provide the documents the bank itself cannot locate.


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