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By Lindsay Lorenz
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – As of March 31, more than 2,000 homeowners in Rhode Island have received some type of relief through the National Mortgage Settlement, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced Tuesday.
According to reports compiled by Joseph A. Smith Jr., monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement, 2,064 Ocean State homeowners have received relief in the form of first and second lien modification forgiveness, short sales, principal refinancing and other forgiveness programs, with an aggregate amount of benefit of $150 million, or a $72,708 average benefit per homeowner.
The reports also show that Rhode Island has approximately 1,000 additional homeowners who are currently in the approval and/or trial phase of first lien modification relief programs. The data used in the report was provided by the five banks that are parties to the settlement.
“While this report shows real relief for many homeowners in Rhode Island and recent data show some recovery, the housing market continues to be very fragile, heavily reliant on the state’s overall economy and employment levels,” Kilmartin said in prepared remarks, adding that the issue is still a work in progress.
“Based on calls from frustrated homeowners, I know there are areas in which some of the banks still have work to do to be in compliance with the servicing standards outlined in the settlement. My office continues to report these issues to the monitor, and I will continue to hold the banks accountable to ensure they are in full compliance with the terms of the settlement,” Kilmartin said.
Kilmartin has additionally proposed legislation to bring more relief to Rhode Island homeowners through a foreclosure conciliation program and statutory changes to the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. in Rhode Island.
According to the reports, nationally, 621,712 borrowers benefited from some type of consumer relief totaling $50.63 billion, which, on average, represents about $81,437 per borrower. This figure includes both completed consumer relief and active first lien trial modifications.
Nearly $30 billion of the overall completed consumer relief has come in the form of principal forgiveness and refinancing. Because of the settlement, the principal reduction helps borrowers stay in their homes, lowering monthly payments on over 310,000 loans and actually reducing struggling homeowners’ loan balances by more than $83,000 on average.
Come June, the monitor plans to submit the first required reports to the court concerning his review of the banks’ compliance with the settlement’s servicing standards. The monitor is also developing one or more discretionary metrics, or tests, to better measure the banks’ performance on certain servicing standards, which are expected to be announced and implemented this summer.