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Did You Know That There Is An Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight?


If you answered, "No," to that question, you're among the vast majority. The Office was created to monitor the banks that are subject to the 49 state foreclosure fraud settlement. Clearly, "mortgage settlement oversight," is a phrase designed to play better in Peoria than, "foreclosure fraud settlement oversight."

The Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight is tasked with monitoring the conduct of the servicers that are party to the settlement. The Office doesn't seem to do very much real oversight, however. Its primary function, according to the FAQ, is to review reports issued by the banks and determine whether the banks are being compliant.

Again, the Office will receive reports written by the banks being overseen. It will then review those reports to see if the banks are complying with the terms of the settlement. I am not entirely sure how this seems like a good idea on any level. The Office does not appear to be a governmental agency. As such, it appears to have very little, if any, true regulatory oversight power.

The majority of the powers described in the FAQ trend towards advisory powers, not regulatory power.

For example, the Monitor advises a separate Monitoring Committee of its findings and make recommendations for corrective action. From the FAQ:

The Monitor will communicate those determinations and findings to the banks and then to the court and a Monitoring Committee composed of state attorneys general and federal agency officials. The Monitor will work with any non-compliant institutions to establish and then oversee corrective plans, or, if necessary, make recommendations for additional corrective actions. Some of this information may be confidential, but the Monitor is committed to sharing as many of his findings with the public as possible.

The Office and the Monitor have no real power to punish or to sue. It appears that the toothiest option the Monitor has is to request that the D.C. District Court impose sanctions or injunctive relief against non-compliant servicers.

It's a good thing that the banks are writing their own compliance reports. That will help the Monitor avoid an awkward moment wherein he has to ask the courts to step in and enforce the settlement's terms. I wouldn't want a former bank regulator and securities attorney to have to upset his colleagues.

The one thing I really appreciate about the Office's website is that there is a complaint form that borrowers and their attorneys can fill out to report misconduct by servicers. The Office won't actually use the information to help you, however. The Office will use the information to help identify sevicers that are not complying with the settlement.

Given that the servicers are issuing their own compliance reports, it seems eminently worthwhile for attorneys and borrowers to report issues via the website. It may very well be the only credible source of information available to the Office.

The borrower form is here.

The attorney on behalf of a borrower form is here.

After spending some considerable time at the Office's website, it would appear that there is no list of which servicers are part of the settlement. This would be useful information for the people the site hopes to reach. Here is that useful information:

The parties to the settlement are Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citi.* It would appear that submitting a complaint about any other servicer or entity will be an utter waste of time.

I'll continue to monitor the site and see what information is reported as promised by the FAQ.

*Loans owned by Fannie and Freddie don't count, even if they are serviced by one of the five banks listed above.