My name is Chris Wyatt and before becoming a homeowner’s advocate I spent 21 years in the mortgage loan servicing business.
Ocwen Loan Servicing has emerged as one of the largest mortgage servicers in the United States in recent years, offshoring approximately 90% of the day-to-day mortgage loan servicing responsibilities to employees Mumbai and Bangalore, India.
Over the past several months, I have been attempting to assist a number of Ocwen homeowners’ who have, among other things, been unsuccessful in obtaining copies documents related to the servicing of their loan, Ocwen has failed to appropriately and timely apply payments to their loan, assessed unwarranted fees to their mortgage loan, failed to timely review loan modification requests, or wrongfully denied a loan modification request. This type of behavior highlights the fact that Ocwen is intentionally preventing homeowners and regulators from uncovering significant and widespread servicing issues that exist within Ocwen’s servicing platform.
For example, a current case dramatizes the on-going problems that homeowner’s face when trying to obtain accurate information from Ocwen “customer care” representatives.
Specifically, in a recent call, (with my client’s permission) I attempted to get an Ocwen “customer care” representative to answer a few questions. Now, I helped this borrower get a loan modification in December 2013. On January 1st, he made his first payment. In February he tried making his payment through the Ocwen website, but failed despite eight attempts (the website would not accept the payment).
After he finally succeeded in making the February payment over the phone and avoid the $19+ pay by phone fee, the Ocwen representative then claimed that the homeowner owes a property inspection fee for January stating that this fee is valid. IT IS NOT. The deed of trust does allow for property inspections if the loan is in default but since this borrower was current, no fees should have been assessed.
The property inspection is a major issue because servicers are not allowed to assess these charges on current loans.
Then the Ocwen representative suggests he apply for a new modification claiming he can now get better terms which begs the question: Why were these “better terms” not offered on the modification he received two months earlier?
The Ocwen representative also acknowledges that the servicer had not been applied in a timely manner claiming the borrower had made the January payment on the thirteenth when in fact he had made it on the first (and has the documentation). When confronted the Ocwen representative does acknowledge this. Additionally, he is told that his February payment will not be applied for twenty four hours.
A servicer is required to post a homeowner’s payment on the day it’s received not within the one to twelve day period indicated by this Ocwen customer representative.
The call is a powerful example that Ocwen’s servicing procedures still do not conform to both the spirit and the letter of consent agreements reached with several regulatory agencies including the CFPB. Additionally, I believe that New York Department of Financial Services head, Ben Lawsky, was thoroughly justified in halting the transfer of 42 billion dollars of mortgage servicing rights (so-called “MSR’s” from Wells Fargo to Ocwen earlier this month.
As we all know, the OCC and the Federal Reserve issued Consent Decrees to many banks and mortgage loan servicers as a result of the foreclosure and robo-signing scandals that erupted in 2010. These settlement agreements did little or nothing to prevent homeowners from losing their homes. In fact, these settlement agreements have aided the Banks in being able to conducted foreclosures utilizing the same old wrongful practices with little or no actual oversight to stem the flow of these banks continuing with the same old wrongful servicing practices.
As a result of the CFPB investigation, Ocwen has been able to obtain a similar sweet heart deal that allows homeowners to be screwed over yet again by offering little in the way of compensation or protections to homeowners going forward. Rest assured that regulators will be unable to provide appropriate oversight to ensure homeowners are being treated in a fair and reasonable manner related to servicing of their loans.
Now is the time for homeowners to unify in a strong coalition to present a unified agenda to the CFPB and other regulators that demands homeowners become a full partner to any settlements, investigations, and monitoring of the servicing practices of mortgage loan servicers going forward.
First, the agenda should be focused on whether the settlement agreement with Ocwen is fair and reasonable to homeowners that lost their homes as a result of the wrongful servicing practices of Ocwen, (e.g. is a payment of likely $300 fair to a homeowner that lost their home as a result of Ocwen’s wrongful practices?).
Second, the agenda should be focused on whether homeowners that were not foreclosed suffered damages as a direct result of Ocwen’s inappropriate servicing practices and are entitled to just compensation for the wrongful servicing practices of Ocwen.
Third, the agenda should demand that homeowners be granted authority to provide insight, guidance, and review of mortgage servicing practices. In addition, the ability to independently monitor servicing functions of Ocwen to ensure homeowers are being dealt with in a fair and reasonable manner and that Ocwen adhere to prudent servicing practices.
Fourth, Ocwen should be required to cease and desist from any futher foreclosures until a fair and reasonable settlement is negotiated and Ocwen has fully implemented prudent servicing practices.
Fifth, Ocwen be required to streamline their loan modification process by cutting the red tape (i.e., requiring tax returns, bank statements, affidavits, etc.), reducing the debt to income ratio of an affordable monthly payment to 28% of net income of the homeowner, no more trial payment modifications, and requires Ocwen to adhere to a 30 day review and approval process. If Ocwen fails to meet the 30 day approval process, Ocwen is required to pay stiff financial penalites to the homeowner.
In view the foregoing, I request that Ocwen, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and State Attorney General Offices immediately void the settlement agreement with Ocwen and provide an opportunity for the Homeonwner Justice Coalition to assist in the negotiation of a fair and reasonable settlement, provide guidance and insight for mortgage servicing practices, and that homeowners be allowed to independently review and monitor Ocwen's servicing practices going forward.
If you have any questions concerning the petition, interest in becoming a member of the Homeowner Justice Coalition, please direct your inquiries to Chris Wyatt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @cwyatt71.
HOMEOWNER JUSTICE COALITION