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End is near for filling out Oklahoma mortgage settlement applications

by Richard Mize Published: September 5, 2012
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The deadline is nearing for Oklahoma homeowners who believe they were wronged by unfair or illegal mortgage and foreclosure practices to seek damages from the state's settlement with five big lenders.

The cutoff comes Sept. 13, but people should act sooner because many require follow-up and more documentation than people think, said Diane Clay, director of communication for the attorney general's office.

Go to www.oag.ok.gov/oagweb.nsf/mortgageinfo.html to apply for compensation, or call (404) 521-2029.

Must show harm

Oklahoma will receive $18.6 million in its settlement with Bank of America, Citigroup, GMAC, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The attorney general's Public Protection Unit, which is handling the money, is working on an index to use to distribute the settlement money based on each homeowner's showing of actual harm.

Officials had no estimate of individual compensation, but said it will be greater, and come faster, than under the national agreement.

“These funds are intended for homeowners who were harmed by specific unfair and deceptive practices. When applying for compensation, homeowners should provide all documentation of these practices in their specific case,” the attorney general's office says in a fact sheet on its website.

People harmed by “robo-signing” and “dual tracking” are the attorney general's first priority.

Robo-signing had signatures automatically attached to documents rather than after personal review by bank employees, as the law required. With dual-tracking, banks advised homeowners to go delinquent on their loans, claiming it would trigger a loan review and adjustment and save them from foreclosure, while at the same time preparing to foreclose regardless.

State settlement

The state struck a separate deal from the national settlement involving the other 49 states after Attorney General Scott Pruitt withdrew from the national negotiation with the lenders in early 2011, saying it had become politicized. Pruitt argued that the national deal implemented policy in an attempt to “fix the housing market” by requiring loan modifications and principal reductions rather than merely seeking damages for fraud and unlawful practices.

When the state settlement was announced in February, Pruitt said he thought the national settlement overreached the power of state attorneys general, inappropriately benefited homeowners who stopped making house payments over those who kept paying even after the housing crash sent them underwater, and would harm community banks.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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