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More Homeowners’ Rights Bills Pass in California Houses

Attorney General Kamala Harris' Homeowner Bill of Rights continues to work through the California Legislature as two more bills pass, the Office of the Attorney General announced Thursday. AB 2610 and SB 1473 will require buyers of foreclosed homes to allow tenants at least 90 days before starting eviction proceedings. Under the bills, if the tenant has a fixed-term lease, the new owner must honor it unless they can demonstrate that certain exceptions apply. The bills are intended to correct incongruities within California law and between state and federal law.

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California Houses Pass Parts of ‘Homeowner Bill of Rights’

California attorney general Kamala Harris announced Wednesday that the state Assembly and Senate each passed components of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights designed to protect homeowners from scams. One of the passed bills, AB 1763/SB 1474, allows the use of special grand juries to prosecute financial crimes that occur across multiple jurisdictions. Under current California law, crimes involving fraud victims across the state require separate grand juries and separate charges filed in each county where the crime was committed.

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National Servicing Settlement Funds Expand Connecticut Programs

Connecticut attorney general George Jepsen announced Friday that programs of benefits resulting from a $25 billion mortgage foreclosure servicing settlement are moving forward in the state. Out of Connecticut's $190 million share of the settlement funds, an estimated $119 million is going into loan modifications. The banks have also agreed to provide $36 million in refinancing to Connecticut borrowers whose homes are worth less than their mortgages. Furthermore, they agreed to provide cash payments of about $1,500 to an estimated 7,500 borrowers in the state who experienced loan servicing abuses and lost their homes to foreclosure between the start of 2008 and the end of 2011.

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Judicial States Will Lag Behind Recovery: Capital Economics

While the housing market is starting to show signs that it is strengthening, for some states, recovery still seems to be in the very distant future. According to a report from Capital Economics, one factor that will determine the speed of recovery for individual states is the type of foreclosure procedure. Paul Diggle, author of the report, said that many of the judicial states, which are struggling to clear their backlog of foreclosures, will lag behind during recovery. However, Rob Pitingolo, research assistant with the Urban Institute, noted that it's not the judicial process itself that is the problem, but a lack of resources.

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BofA to Offer Principal Writedowns to 200K Delinquent Borrowers

Bank of America began mailing out more than 200,000 letters this week targeting borrowers thought to be eligible for principal-reducing modifications under terms of the settlement reached with the federal government and 49 state attorneys general. To be eligible, a homeowner must owe more on the mortgage than the property is worth today and must have been at least 60 days behind on payments on January 31, 2012. BofA estimates average monthly savings of 30 percent for qualifying customers.

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Behind the $25B Settlement: Joe Smith

Parties to the landmark mortgage servicing settlement appointed one man to oversee $25 billion in compliance. In an interview with DS News, Joseph A. Smith, onetime banking commissioner for North Carolina and ex-nominee to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, lays out the role he envisions playing as he monitors funds for homeowners, states, and the federal government. The settlement monitor speaks with an understated tone about his stewardship of the historic settlement, which 49 state attorneys general and federal officials completed in February.

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HUD Grants $42M to Housing Counselors

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced Friday the distribution of $42 million in grants to 468 housing counseling agencies nationwide. In his announcement Friday, Donovan called housing counseling programs nothing less than indispensable. After national funding for housing counseling was cut last year, Donovan said, ""We fought hard to persuade Congress to restore funding for housing counseling in HUD's budget and now we're working to make these important resources available as quickly as possible.""

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Oklahoma Sets Deadline for Mortgage Settlement Relief

Oklahoma residents seeking restitution under the state's mortgage settlement with the nation's largest mortgage servicers must apply for benefits by September 13, 2012. The agreement between Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Bank of America, Citigroup, Ally's GMAC, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo gives the state $18.6 million, all of which will be used to compensate residents wronged in the foreclosure process. Under the nationwide settlement, Oklahoma would have received an estimated $10.2 million, and most of it would have been ""paid"" in the form of credits for loss mitigation activities fulfilled by the servicers.

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New York Reaches $25M Settlement Over MERS Actions

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman secured $25 million from three of the nation's top servicing shops after filing a lawsuit early last month regarding foreclosures he says were improperly processed through Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS). Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo will each pay the state of New York $5.9 million, according to settlement documents obtained by Reuters. MERS itself has faced a number of lawsuits regarding its participation in the foreclosure process, and results have been mixed from state to state.

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