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

Charlotte ObserverFebruary 21, 2013 

The five banks involved in a sweeping national mortgage settlement reported providing $350 million in mortgage relief to 7,500 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 homeowner’s mortgages. The largest amount, more than one-third, has come from short sales, which require borrowers to leave their homes.

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 pattern was largely borne out at the national level, where the banks reported a total of $45 billion in total relief. About $19.5 billion came from short sales, and $11.6 billion in second-lien extinguishments and modifications. About $7.4 billion has come from principal forgiveness.

This was the third progress report under the settlement from monitor Joseph Smith, who previously was the North Carolina commissioner of banks. The settlement went into effect March 1 and included Bank of America, Wells Fargo and three other large servicers. Combined, the banks are required to provide $25 billion in cash 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, including some short sales, can receive at little as 20 percent credit.

In a news release, Bank of America said that it has made “significant progress” in its national mortgage settlement programs, and said it has provided “real and meaningful relief.”

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