MAY 21, 2013 2:40pm ET

Banks Surpass Mortgage Settlement Relief Expectations

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The consumer relief data sent to the mortgage settlement monitor, Joseph A. Smith Jr., show that within the first year since servicers signed the agreement they have distributed $50.63 billion in direct relief to customers.

Nearly $30 billion of the overall consumer relief money consisted of principal forgiveness and refinancing reducing monthly payments on over 310,000 loans by more than $83,000.

HUD secretary Shaun Donovan applauded servicers for surpassing expectations and delivering “the broadest and most robust principal reduction program in the nation’s history.”

Through March 31, settlement money has provided more than $81,000 in benefits to over 620,000 homeowners reaffirming, according to Donovan, the simple truth that “large-scale principal reduction is an important tool in preventing foreclosures.”

Data sent by the banks to the monitor include both completed consumer relief and active first-lien trial modifications at the state level. It is the fourth quarterly self-reported consumer relief progress reporting since the settlement.

Bank of America leads the pack assisting the highest number of borrowers. The megabank reported it has delivered $29.2 billion “in aggregate relief across all settlement programs” that assisted 320,000 borrowers.

By March 31, B of A approved first-lien principal forgiveness modifications or forgiveness of previous principal forbearance to 46,000 customers that surpassed $7 billion in total principal reduction. In addition it offered “life-of-loan interest rate reductions” on monthly payments to an additional 46,500 “underwater” homeowners who are making timely payments on loan balances that exceed the current value of their property.

Chase reported that it has completed its consumer relief requirements under the settlement “two years ahead of time” delivering $11 billion to assist 126,000 homeowners in just 13 months, and consequently earning $4.2 billion in credits.

During that period Chase provided $2.9 billion in principal forgiveness on first-lien mortgages and refinanced $3 billion of loans to current, underwater borrowers.

According to the monitor, Wells Fargo has fulfilled an estimated 90% of its $4.3 billion consumer relief obligation. The bank reported it has assisted 93,000 borrowers of which 31,046 benefited from the $2.2 billion in principal forgiveness on first and second lien trial and completed loan modifications.

Smith, who so far has only credited ResCap, said he plans to release a consumer relief progress review for the other four banks in the coming weeks. “At that time, I look forward to engaging in a public conversation about their progress.”

In June the monitor also plans to submit his first review of the banks’ compliance with the servicing standards and also will evaluate “if there are gaps that require future testing.”

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