Sam Gendusa January 9, 2013

On Monday federal regulators overseeing the Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) and 10 of the banks found guilty of documentation errors during the foreclosure crisis in 2009 and 2010 reached an $8.5 billion settlement that brings an abrupt end to the IFR.

Citing the growing cost of conducting the independent reviews, and the snail’s pace at which the reviews were moving, regulators said that this settlement was the best way to get wronged homeowners the compensation they are entitled to faster. Under the terms of the agreement, which have not yet been finalized, the banks have agreed to provide $3.3 billion dollars in compensation to the roughly 3.8 million homeowners affected by the robo-signing (and other mismanagement) scandal. Additionally, they will provide $5.2 billion dollars in assistance to homeowners in the form of modifications to their mortgages or cuts to the overall principal of the loans.

The banks that signed on to this settlement are: Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. Banks that are still in negotiations with federal regulators include: HSBC, Ally Financial, EverBank Financial Corp. and OneWest Bank.

This settlement, while certainly a bold step for both sides, is not seen by all as a win-win. Many analysts think that the banks are getting away with not fully compensating all parties to the extent they ought to be compensated. For example, some parties may not receive the full compensation to which they are due, while other parties who may not have been wronged in their foreclosure process will receive compensation to which they are not truly entitled.

The reason for these discrepancies is that the settlement paints with a much broader stroke than the IFR did. Under the terms of the agreement, homeowners can fall into 11 categories with standardized compensation. All the bank needs to do is put a homeowner in a category and cut a check. There is no more actual reviewing of claims of wrongdoing. Depending on the category into which they fall, homeowners will be entitled to between $1,000 and $125,000 in compensation.

While this greatly speeds up the process and gets compensation in the hands of homeowners more quickly, there is the chance that some homeowners may get the short end of the stick and be left without further course of action.

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