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Economic News

Big banks to review complaints alleging illegal foreclosures

After a bitter fight, homeowners are finally being compensated for big banks illegally foreclosing, but in a cruel twist, the government is firing independent complaint reviewers and asking the banks themselves to determine if they were abusive.

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Big banks back in the self-review business

Before the housing crash, big banks wrongfully foreclosed on thousands of American homeowners, and after a lengthy legal battle between banks and state and federal governments, financial institutions were required to revamp their entire system, pay homeowners billions, and stop robo-signing foreclosure documents without a human reviewing them for accuracy, which is what led to many illegal foreclosures.

On one end of the reparation spectrum is state governments failing to actually use the funds to help homeowners, rather are using the millions for general budget shortfalls, often having nothing to do with housing or wronged homeowners.

At the other end of the reparation spectrum is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency which has now done away with the requirement of independent third-party reviews, as they attempt to distribute the cash to wronged homeowners, putting these homeowners in a bad position not only having been abused by the big banks, but having their funds misused by states, and back in the hands of the very banks that wronged them.

According to Deal Book, “To accelerate the payments, the comptroller’s office decided to cut out the middlemen, the consultants, from the reviews. In a conference call last week, the government outlined a plan to use the lenders instead, according to people with direct knowledge of the discussion. The big banks will now have to assess each loan for potential errors, which will help determine the size of the payments to homeowners.”

The mortgage settlement indicated homeowners would begin receiving payments last year, but this spring looks to be the earliest that might happen.

The fine line between cost savings and a slap in the face

[ba-pullquote align=”right”]“The whole process has been a slap in the face to homeowners and a slap on the wrist to banks. The latest development shows how there has been no accountability.”[/ba-pullquote]The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency cites that the independent reviews have been extremely costly, and having only reviewed a tiny portion of the nearly 500,000 complaints filed by homeowners in just over a year, already costing $2 billion in fees, not to mention that some reviewers’ competency and objectiveness has been called into question.

As a result, the Comptroller has opted to put it back on big banks, which is akin to a court ordering an abusive parent to give themselves counseling and training, or ordering a recovering alcoholic to bartend at a rehab facility as punishment for her third DWI.

“The whole process has been a slap in the face to homeowners and a slap on the wrist to banks,” Isaac Simon Hodes, an organizer with the community group Lynn United for Change told DealBook. “The latest development shows how there has been no accountability.”

Compromised decision making skills victimized homeowners nationwide, and giving the abusers discretion to decide whether they were abusive or not is puzzling to many, yet funneling billions into consultants who are very slowly reviewing the complaints at an extremely high cost isn’t an effective method either.

Worry not, the Comptroller says, because they will be randomly checking the reviews. “Regulators will verify and test the work of servicers to slot borrowers into broad categories and then regulators will determine the amount of payment for each category,” explained Morris Morgan, the deputy comptroller in charge of supervising large banks.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Agi Anderson, ePro

    February 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    It has and continues to appall me that lenders are getting away with mortgage murder!!!

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Economic News

Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?

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NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination

When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”

At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?

The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.

In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…

>>>>>Click to continue reading…

#CarsonHUD

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Economic News

Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement

The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.

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Job openings hit a high point

To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.

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The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.

Good news, bad news, depending on your profession

That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.

Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.

What’s next

If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.

If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.

Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.

#JobOpenings

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Economic News

Gas prices are down, so are gas taxes about to go up?

Do low gas prices mean higher gas taxes are on the way? Budgeting for 2015 just got a bit more complicated, if some politicians have their way.

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Gas taxes and your bottom line

Many industries rely heavily on time in their vehicle, not just truck drivers and delivery trucks. Sales professionals hop in their vehicles throughout the day, as do many other types of professionals (service providers like plumbers, and so forth). For that reason, gas prices and taxes are a relevant line item that must be budgeted for 2015, but with politicians making the rounds to push for higher gas taxes, budgeting becomes more complicated.

Gas prices are down roughly 50 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, which some analysts say have contributed to more money in consumers’ pockets. Some believe that this will improve holiday sales, but others believe the timing is just right to increase federal taxes on gas. The current tax on gas is 18.40 cents per gallon, and on diesel are 24.40 cents per gallon.

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Supporters and opponents are polar opposites

Supporters argue as follows: gas prices are low, so it won’t hurt to increase federal gas taxes, in fact, those funds must go toward improving our infrastructure, which in the long run, saves Americans money because smoother roads mean better gas mileage and less congestion.

Gas taxes have long been a polarizing concept, and despite lowered gas prices, the controversial nature of the taxes have not diminished.

While some are pushing for complete abolition of federal gas taxes, others, like former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell (D) tell CNBC, “Say that cost the average driver $130 a year. They would get a return on that investment” in safer roads and increased quality of life, he added.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Mooney points out that federal gas taxes have been “stuck” at 18 cents for over 20 years, last raised when gas was barely a dollar a gallon and that the tax must increase not only to improve the infrastructure, but to “green” our behavior, and help our nation find tax reform compromise.

Is a gas tax politically plausible?

Mooney writes, “So, this is not an argument that a gas tax raise is politically plausible — any more than a economically efficient tax on carbon would be. It’s merely a suggestion that — ignoring politics — it might be a pretty good idea.”

Rendell noted, “The World Economic Forum, 10 years ago, rated us the best infrastructure in the world,” adding that we “need to do something for our infrastructure, not in a one or two year period, but over a decade.”

Others would note that this rating has not crumbled in just a few years, that despite many bridges and roads in need of repair, our infrastructure is still superior to even the most civilized nations.

Regardless of the reasons, most believe that Congress won’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole, especially leading up to another Presidential campaign season starting next year.

“I think it’s too toxic and continues to be too toxic,” Steve LaTourette (the former Republican congressman best known for his close friendship with his fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner) tells The Atlantic. “I see no political will to get this done.”

Whether the time is fortuitous or not, and regardless of the positive side effects, many point to a fear of voters’ retaliation against any politician siding with a gas hike, so this matter going any further than the proposal stage is unlikely.

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