Banks report $350 million in N.C. mortgage relief

adunn@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 22, 2013 

  • By the numbers

    Through Dec. 31, the following mortgage relief had been given to North Carolina homeowners, according to a progress report issued Thursday:

    • About $350 million in total relief, reaching nearly 7,600 homeowners. About $135 million came through short sales, and $131 million through extinguishment of second liens. • 745 homeowners have received $34 million in first-lien principal forgiveness. • Bank of America has provided the most relief in the state: $230 million in total mortgage aid. More than half, or $116 million, has come from second-lien extinguishments, and $81 million from short sales. Andrew Dunn

The five banks involved in a sweeping national mortgage settlement reported providing $350 million in mortgage relief to about 7,600 borrowers in North Carolina through the end of last year, according to a report released Thursday by the settlement’s monitor.

But less than 10 percent – about $35 million – of the total has come from principal forgiveness on homeowners’ primary mortgages, the report shows. The largest amount, more than one-third, has come from short sales.

Another third now comes from second-lien extinguishments – for example, when a bank wipes out a home equity loan. Nearly 3,000 homeowners in the state had their second-liens extinguished, the bulk of which came in the last three months of the year.

The relief provided and the number of people receiving aid increased by about 75 percent in the last three months of the year.

The pattern was largely borne out at the national level, where the banks reported $45 billion in total relief, up from the $26 billion in the last report. About $19.5 billion came from short sales, where the property is sold for less than the outstanding mortgage. Another $11.6 billion came second-lien extinguishments and modifications, and about $7.4 billion has come from principal forgiveness.

“I am pleased, frankly, with the consumer relief progress we’ve made, at least in dollar terms,” said settlement monitor Joseph Smith, who previously was the North Carolina commissioner of banks, in an Observer interview.

This was Smith’s third progress report since the settlement went into effect March 1 between state attorneys general, federal agencies and five large mortgage servicers, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Combined, the banks are required to provide $25 billion in payments and mortgage relief.

The dollar figures in Thursday’s report do not reflect total progress toward the requirements. Not all forms of relief receive dollar-for-dollar credit to the $25 billion total. Some forms can receive at little as 20 percent credit.

Banks must provide 30 percent of their final totals through first-lien forgiveness before being determined to have completed their requirements. Since this form of relief generally gets the most credit, the percentage will likely be higher than represented in the report.

“It’s just a little early to see how it all will play out,” Smith said. He also said that in many cases, short sales and second-lien forgiveness are best for a borrower.

The monitor announced last week that Ally Financial had been determined to have completed its $200 million in required relief. A few other banks have asked to have their relief certified by the monitor. Smith would not say which banks they were.

Dunn: 704-358-5235 Twitter: @andrew_dunn

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