News Column

Ohio Homeowners Receive $280 Million in Help

Feb. 22, 2013

Rick Armon, The Akron Beacon Journal

Ohio homeowners have received $280 million worth of help with their mortgages through a national settlement struck last year with five banks.

The Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight released a report Thursday showing that 7,465 borrowers in the state received assistance through a variety of programs, including refinancing, short sales and the forgiving of liens.

Nationwide, 554,389 homeowners received some form of consumer relief totaling $45.8 billion as part of the National Mortgage Settlement, the report says.

The settlement stems from federal and state authorities investigating questionable mortgage practices by the nation's largest servicers: Ally, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorganChase and Wells Fargo.

"The two goals of the National Mortgage Settlement were to compensate Ohioans for the damage caused by robo-signing and to prevent future bad acts," state Attorney General Mike DeWine said. "[The] monitor's report shows that Ohioans are receiving significant relief and continue to take advantage of the relief opportunities provided in the settlement."

The 124-page report summarized self-reported data, and noted that only Ally has fulfilled its requirements so far.

"As a result of this year's work, I have grown stronger in my belief that this bipartisan, state-federal agreement is in the best interest of homeowners across the nation," monitor Joseph A. Smith Jr. wrote.

According to the report, 2,528 Ohioans refinanced with the five banks, saving an average of $28,559.

The average rate reduction was 3.04 percent, which was higher than the national average of 2.36 percent.

DeWine noted that refinancing notices were sent to 4,752 Ohioans, meaning there are plenty of people who either haven't finalized deals or who opted not to participate.

More than 1,740 borrowers also participated in short sales in the state.

Bank of America was the most active bank in Ohio, providing $125 million worth of help to 2,985 borrowers.

Meanwhile, Citi provided $53.5 million in help to 1,919 borrowers; Chase, $59 million to 1,492 borrowers; Wells Fargo, $35.5 million to 917 borrowers; and Ally, $6.6 million to 152 borrowers.

Despite the assistance, many homeowners across the country continue to have problems with the banks. Smith reported receiving about 830 complaints a month from November to February.

The complaints ranged from frustration over the process to undocumented fees being imposed. Nearly half the complaints have been against Bank of America.

To read the monitor's report, go to:

For more stories on investments and markets, please see HispanicBusiness' Finance Channel

Source: (c)2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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