California secured the $18 billion agreement as part of a national multistate settlement to penalize robo-signing and other bank servicing and foreclosure misconduct. The agreement comes after California departed from the multistate negotiations last September when the estimated relief to California was $4 billion. Attorney General Harris insisted on more relief for the most distressed homeowners, meaningful enforcement, and the ability of California and other states to pursue investigations into misconduct.
California's participation in the settlement also increased the amount of relief other states will receive by approximately $6 billion.
To speed investigations and strengthen prosecutions of these mortgage cases, California will expand its Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, adding to the more than 42 members already working on the team. The state will continue its investigative alliance with Nevada, that allows the sharing of resources, information and strategies, and will look to collaborate with additional states focused on a law enforcement response to the wave of mortgage fraud.
The national multistate agreement and California commitment will provide substantial relief for thousands of Californians whose mortgages are owned by the five banks in the settlement, but thousands more will still need help as they struggle to stay in their homes.
"I will continue to fight for principal reductions for the approximately 60 percent of California homeowners whose loans are owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Attorney General Harris added.
Attorney General Harris will propose a comprehensive legislative agenda to protect homeowners in the mortgage market. This legislation will build on the three-year reforms agreed to as part of the California commitment, including a single point of contact for mortgage-holders and an end to the unfair and confusing system of dual-track foreclosures.
"This is an historic amount of relief for California homeowners, but it is one piece of a broader focus. We will continue our crackdown on mortgage fraud and quickly move to pass legislation that will simplify, reform and upgrade our broken mortgage system," Harris added.
The financial benefits of this historic agreement extend to homeowners whose loans are owned or serviced by one of the five largest mortgage lenders. Benefits include:
- - More than $12 billion is guaranteed to reduce the principal on loans or offer short sales to approximately 250,000 California homeowners who are underwater on their loans and behind or almost behind in their payments.
- - $849 million is estimated to be dedicated to refinancing the loans of 28,000 homeowners who are current on their payments but underwater on their loans.
- - $279 million will be dedicated to offering restitution to approximately 140,000 California homeowners who were foreclosed upon between 2008 and December 31, 2011.
- - $1.1 billion is estimated to be distributed to homeowners for unemployed payment forbearance and transition assistance as well as to communities to repair the blight and devastation left by waves of foreclosures, targeted at 16,000 recent foreclosures.
- - $3.5 billion will be dedicated to relieving 32,000 homeowners of unpaid balances remaining when their homes are foreclosed.
- - $430 million in costs, fees and penalty payments.