1 YEAR LATER: AG Pruitt’s Oklahoma Mortgage Settlement Spurs Oklahomans’ Recovery

Phase II deadline for direct payments to homeowners is Dec. 31

OKLAHOMA CITY – October 11, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — One year after Attorney General Scott Pruitt delivered the first $20,000 check to a Tulsa family, the Oklahoma Mortgage Settlement Fund continues to fulfill its goal of helping Oklahomans recover from harmful banking practices, and keeping families in their homes.

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In March 2012, Oklahoma was the only state to forge its own settlement with five of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers rather than joining a national settlement. General Pruitt made the decision because the national settlement had transformed into an attempt to create new housing policy rather than holding banks accountable and helping homeowners harmed during the mortgage modification or foreclosure process.

General Pruitt’s decision secured direct payments to homeowners that are approximately 13 times larger than what Oklahomans would have received under the national settlement, and at a much faster pace. So far, more than $7.89 million has been committed to provide direct relief and legal assistance to Oklahomans who were harmed. Oklahoma’s settlement also allows the state to help homeowners who are currently facing foreclosure or mortgage default to get assistance before they lose their homes.

“We had many doubters at the beginning of this process because we were the only ones to take this stand, but we have kept our promise that this money would go to the people who were harmed and that the checks would be far more substantial than what families would have received from the national settlement,” General Pruitt said. “I am proud of what we’ve done for Oklahoma and the tremendous effort we have made, all within our office, to create a settlement that didn’t just throw money at a problem, but provided meaningful relief to help Oklahoma families get back on their feet.”

In May, General Pruitt re-opened the settlement fund for those who missed the original deadline to apply. The deadline to apply for Phase II is Dec. 31 for Oklahoma families who were harmed during the mortgage modification or foreclosure process. The new phase also extends the time frame for when harm occurred to include 2012. An updated application is available at www.oag.ok.gov or by calling (405) 521-2029.

“Fortunately for Oklahoma, we are the only state in a position to help our homeowners with direct meaningful relief,” General Pruitt said. “By launching a Phase II for compensation, we can help those families who may have missed the deadline last year or who were not aware of the opportunity.”

Oklahoma was the only state to craft its own agreement with Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, GMAC and Wells Fargo, which allowed the Oklahoma Attorney General to provide direct compensation. In some states, funds from the national settlement were used for non-housing related issues such as balancing budgets, funding economic development programs, and infrastructure projects.

In October 2012, the AG’s Public Protection Unit, which manages the state settlement, mailed the first installment of checks to more than 100 Oklahomans. The amount awarded to Oklahoma families ranges from $5,000-$20,000, which is as much as 13 times higher than the $1,400 payments residents in other states received under the national settlement.

“I have heard from dozens of homeowners who are very grateful for the compensation,” General Pruitt said. “Oklahoma families are using this assistance to pay off debt, to put a down payment on a new house or to get a new start. While the assistance provided can’t replace a home lost in foreclosure, it’s rewarding to know our mortgage program is providing Oklahoma families with meaningful help to claim a fresh start.”

More than 700 Oklahomans applied for relief from the Oklahoma Mortgage Settlement Fund during Phase I, with an average payment so far of $11,173.

For Oklahomans who are still in their homes and need help to avoid foreclosure, the Attorney General’s Office created the Resolution Oklahoma program which provides free legal assistance.

The first part of Resolution Oklahoma is in partnership with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma to provide free legal assistance for lower income and older Oklahomans. The program is funded by a grant from the Oklahoma Mortgage Settlement Fund. To contact Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, call (888) 534-5243 or go online to www.oklaw.org.

The second part of Resolution Oklahoma is for homeowners who do not qualify for income-based assistance. These homeowners can apply for a voucher worth up to $5,000 in legal services through the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.

The voucher application must be completed by homeowners and their attorneys of choice and submitted to the AG’s Public Protection Unit for approval. Once approved, the attorneys will provide the services needed and submit invoices to the Attorney General’s Office for payment. All homeowners can apply for assistance through Resolution Oklahoma, no matter their mortgage company. Voucher applications are available online at www.oag.ok.gov, by e-mail at PublicProtection (at) oag.ok (dot) gov or by calling (405) 521-2029.

Along with direct payments to residents from the Oklahoma Mortgage Settlement Fund, Oklahomans may qualify for additional assistance under portions of the national settlement. The national settlement requires banks to work with homeowners on short sales, principal write-downs and mortgage modifications and Oklahomans are not excluded from those benefits. In fact, eligible borrowers in Oklahoma so far have received an average of $30,737 in mortgage-related assistance under this settlement. In addition, a national settlement between mortgage servicers and the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency provides for direct payments of $300 to homeowners who qualify.

For more information on the national settlement, call (888) 952-9105 or go online to www.occ.gov/topics/consumer-protection/foreclosure-prevention/correcting-foreclosure-practices.html.

To access the main national settlement, contact your mortgage servicer at one of the following numbers:

· Bank of America: (877) 488-7814
· Citigroup: (866) 272-4749
· GMAC: (800) 766-4622
· JPMorgan Chase: (866) 372-6901
· Wells Fargo: (800) 288-3212

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