Since the collapse of the U.S. housing market about five years ago, mortgage lenders have been incredibly reluctant to approve loans for potential homeowners and those trying to refinance. With mortgage rates still dipping lower than they have in years, despite recent increases, state and federal regulators have been attempting to push banks to approve more mortgages. Unfortunately, little progress has been made on that front.
Thousands of homeowners across the nation are petitioning to banks for refinances so that they can lower their monthly payments on their homes. When loan modifications get approved, this can save homeowners hundreds of dollars a month. Unfortunately, as was the case with one Texas family, getting approved for a loan mod sometimes isn’t enough.
Even after this man and his wife had been approved for their modification, the bank sent them a letter demanding over $3,000 or else they would face foreclosure. If they did not pay this amount, then the loan modification process would cease and the couple would have to leave their home. What happened in this situation? The bank alleged that the couple didn’t sign the paperwork properly, and that delayed the process. The delay made the modification window expire before it could begin.
The Texas man wrote his senator and also filed a formal complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Board. He even contacted the media in hopes of shedding more light on this issue. Eventually, his bank contacted him again saying that they would open the loan modification process for them again. A loan mod that should have taken three to six months ended up taking a year. This family is just one example of a phenomenon that is happening to families all over the country.
Getting a mortgage lender to approve a loan modification is more difficult than it ever has been previously. This is somewhat surprising, considering that state and federal attorneys last year entered into a suit against Bank of America, Wells Fargo and three other major mortgage lenders. The settlement totaled $26 billion that would go toward satisfying the complaints of borrowers who had been harmed by these banks’ “rogue procedures.”
The case, in part, was meant to serve as a warning to mortgage lenders against practices such as unnecessary delays, losing paperwork, overcharging fees and other bad faith practices that would prevent borrowers from modifying and securing home loans. Out of the five total banks included in this case, only Ally Bank successfully completed their required financial relief commitments, which was one of the terms of their settlement. Last year, more than one million homeowners entered into foreclosure proceedings due to denied loan modifications and other factors.