The five banks involved in a sweeping national mortgage settlement reported providing $350 million in mortgage relief to about 7,600 borrowers in North Carolina through the end of last year, according to a report released Thursday by the settlements monitor.
But less than 10 percent about $35 million of the total has come from principal forgiveness on homeowners primary mortgages, the report shows. The largest amount, more than one-third, has come from short sales, which require borrowers to leave their homes.
Another third now comes from second-lien extinguishments for example, when a bank wipes out a home equity loan. Nearly 3,000 homeowners in the state had their second liens extinguished, the bulk of which came in the last three months of the year.
The relief provided and the number of people receiving aid increased by about 75 percent in the last three months of the year.
The pattern was largely borne out at the national level, where the banks reported $45 billion in total relief, up from the $26 billion in the last report. About $19.5 billion came from short sales, where the property is sold for less than the outstanding mortgage. An additional $11.6 billion came second-lien extinguishments and modifications, and about $7.4 billion has come from principal forgiveness.
About 5,300 South Carolinians have received $278 million in relief.
I am pleased, frankly, with the consumer relief progress weve made, at least in dollar terms, said settlement monitor Joseph Smith, who previously was the North Carolina commissioner of banks, in an Observer interview.
This was Smiths third progress report since the settlement went into effect March 1 between state attorneys general, federal agencies and five large mortgage servicers, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Combined, the banks are required to provide $25 billion in cash payments and mortgage relief.
The dollar figures in Thursdays report do not reflect total progress toward the requirements. Not all forms of relief receive dollar-for-dollar credit to the $25 billion total. Some forms, including some short sales, can receive at little as 20 percent credit.
Banks must provide 30 percent of their final totals through first-lien forgiveness to complete their requirements. Since this form of relief generally gets the most credit, the percentage will likely be higher than represented in the report.
Its just a little early to see how it all will play out, Smith said. He also said that in many cases, short sales and second-lien forgiveness are the best outcome for a borrower.
The monitor announced last week that Ally Financial had been determined to have completed its $200 million in required relief. A few other banks have asked to have their relief certified by the monitor. Smith would not say which banks they were.
Bank of America has the largest obligation under the settlement, and had provided by far the most relief in North Carolina and nationally.
Nationwide, the Charlotte-based bank has provided nearly $27 billion in relief, according to the report. About $12 billion of that has been through short sales, and about $10 billion through second-lien extinguishment.
In a news release, Bank of America said that it has made significant progress in its national mortgage settlement programs, providing real and meaningful relief.
That the bank would have a surge in second-lien extinguishments is not a surprise. In September, Bank of America said it was sending letters to 150,000 homeowners with loans owned and serviced by the bank that were qualified to have the second liens canceled automatically. Most were delinquent, and many were on a home that also had a delinquent first mortgage.
About 142,000 were completed, according to the report.