Several years ago, the United States economy experienced a burst in the housing bubble, leading to a sharp decline in the housing market and increase in foreclosures. In 2012, five banks took part in a broad settlement of $25 billion to remedy some questionable home loan and foreclosure procedures, such as robo-signing, improperly notarized documents, and other deceptive or improper practices.

What Does the Mortgage Settlement Offer?

Key parts of the mortgage settlement include:

  • New servicing standards effective until 2015.
  • Providing cash payments to many wrongly foreclosed upon homeowners.
  • Availability of loan modifications, short sale opportunities, and other relief.
  • Appointing a monitor to oversee the banks to make sure they complied with the settlement terms.

Am I Eligible for Help?

It depends. As a general matter, the banks have already been deemed to banks have met their obligations under the National Mortgage Settlement. However, some states are getting wrapped up in litigation over how those funds were used and whether banks are still liable for certain things. For example, in California consumer groups have filed suit against Governor Jerry Brown demanding the return of about $369 million to that fund. The money was intended to go to distressed homeowners and foreclosure relief, yet this lawsuit alleges the funds were diverted to plug holes in the state budget and pay down housing bonds.

Therefore, while the office handling the national mortgage settlement may no longer be able to offer assistance, an attorney may.

Should I Seek Legal Advice?

Foreclosure is a daunting prospect. Due to the fact that a large portion of the settlement is in dispute, if you are a distressed homeowner, have undergone foreclosure, or are unhappy with the amount you received under the settlement, you should contact an experienced real estate lawyer immediately.