Maryland officials expect the settlement to help 40,000 current or former homeowners. That number could go up or down depending on how many eligible homeowners — especially those who have already lost their homes — are identified.
Gansler's office plans to launch an outreach and marketing campaign to help banks locate eligible homeowners, officials said.
Mark Kaufman, Maryland's commissioner of financial regulation, said the new requirements addressing shoddy mortgage servicing practices were important.
As part of the settlement, banks agreed to numerous steps to improve the servicing and foreclosure process.
"The ability to regulate the standards and elevate the conduct in the industry is significant for us," said Kaufman, a member of the executive committee for the national settlement effort. "It will help everyone. It's a long time coming."
The inquiry by the attorneys general began in October 2010 amid revelations of widespread "robo-signing" — the mass production of foreclosure court documents with forged signatures and bogus notarizations.
In exchange for the settlement, Gansler and other state attorneys general agreed to give up civil liability claims against the banks for mortgage origination and servicing misconduct. Homeowners who participate in the settlement would still have the right to sue the banks for improper acts during the foreclosure process, however.
The deal does not prohibit states from going after banks for the improper packaging of mortgages into securities that later went bad, nor does it prevent officials from pursuing criminal cases, Gansler said.
•Homeowners whose loans are serviced by Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup or Ally Financial may be eligible for mortgage relief, loan modifications or refinancing help.
•Borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011, may qualify for a cash payment of up to $2,000.
•Homeowners whose loans are owned or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are not eligible.
•Homeowners will not know immediately whether they qualify because it will take time to launch the three-year rollout of the settlement, officials say.
•Over the next 30 to 60 days, settlement negotiators are expected to select an administrator to oversee the deal's logistics.
•Over the next six to nine months, the administrator, attorneys general and mortgage servicers will work to identify eligible homeowners. Those eligible will receive letters.
Source: http://www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com; federal and state officials
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