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Bank of America is Well Ahead of Pace to Fulfill Settlement Obligation

american-moneyAn independent monitor for Bank of America’s historic $16.65 billion mortgage settlement with the Department of Justice and six states in August 2014 reported that the bank is well ahead of its four-year deadline for providing the prescribed amount of $7 billion in consumer relief in slightly more than a year.

In his third report on Bank of America’s progress toward fulfilling its settlement obligation, independent monitor Eric D. Green announced that he approved approximately $2.15 billion worth of consumer relief credit for the bank in the second quarter. The approved amount for Q2 brings Bank of America’s total of credited consumer relief in the three reports combined to $3.34 billion, or 48 percent of the required amount of $7 billion under the terms of the settlement.

According to an announcement from Green on Tuesday, Bank of America earns extra credit for providing certain kinds of relief and meeting certain deadlines, so as to give the bank an incentive to deliver relief quickly and to areas where it is needed the most.

“With what is in the pipeline for the next quarter, I expect to be able to report that Bank of America should be nearing the homestretch, well ahead of the four-year deadline for completion,” Green said.

The majority of the amount credited in the second quarter ($1.7 billion) went to modification of 9,671 loans. Another $186 million of the amount credited in Q2 went to extend 16,231 new home loans to borrowers in HUD-designated hardest-hit areas, borrowers who lost their homes to short sales or foreclosures, and low- and moderate-income borrowers.

“The monitor’s findings once again confirm Bank of America is extending meaningful relief to homeowners who, despite the economic recovery most Americans have felt, have continued to struggle financially,” a Bank of America spokesman said in an email to DS News. “The monitor has reviewed and certified $3.34 billion of consumer relief crediting in line with the bank’s second quarter submission. Combined with about $3.68 billion in additional anticipated crediting for recently completed activity and relief in process, we are progressing well toward our $7 billion commitment and expect to fulfill our commitment well ahead of the settlement deadline.

“Consistent with other proprietary and government programs we have extended, we are working quickly to get these solutions in the hands of customers in need of immediate assistance.”

“With what is in the pipeline for the next quarter, I expect to be able to report that Bank of America should be nearing the homestretch, well ahead of the four-year deadline for completion.”—Monitor Eric Green

Still another $116 million of the approved consumer credit amount for Q2 went to 123 donations to funds for community development, legal assistance, and HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. More than $133 million of the Q2 credited relief went to 14 subordinate loans to facilitate the construction of low-income affordable rental housing, according to a statement from the monitor.

“The point of the consumer relief obligations under the settlement agreement is to make it easier for homeowners to build equity and stay in their homes and to make it less of a struggle for low-income families to find affordable housing,” Green said. “On both those counts, the relief is having an impact.”

Green said that principal forgiveness granted under first-lien loan modifications, which was the largest category of intended consumer relief, has reduced average LTV ratio from 180 percent to 76 percent, cut the average monthly payment by 38 percent, and reduced the average interest rate by more than half from 5.47 percent down to 2.14 percent. According to Green, Bank of America has issued more than 56 percent of the loan modifications in HUD-designated Hardest Hit Areas.

On August 20, 2014, Bank of America settled with the Department of Justice and six states for a record $16.65 billion to resolve claims that the bank as well as its Countrywide, Merrill Lynch, and First Franklin divisions packaged and sold toxic mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

Under the settlement agreement, Bank of America agreed to pay $9.16 billion directly to federal agencies and six states; $7 billion in consumer relief, which may include first-lien principal forgiveness or forbearance, second-lien extinguishment, and community reinvestment and neighborhood stabilization; and $490 million for the payment of consumer tax liability as a result of consumer relief.

For the monitor’s latest report, for more information on the settlement, or to view an interactive map to see what kinds of relief are going where, click here.

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.

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