Banks Complete Consumer Relief Obligations Under National Mortgage Settlement

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Intended to address widespread foreclosure abuses that occurred at the height of the housing crisis, the National Mortgage Settlement reached a milestone this week. Joe Smith, the settlement monitor, announced that all five of the named banks have satisfied their consumer relief and refinancing obligations under the agreement. In total, the banks provided more than $50 million in credited relief nationwide, which translates to $20 billion in gross relief under the joint state-federal settlement. 

Tennessee received an estimated $240 million in relief including $180 million in refinances, principal reductions, and approved short sales.  Under the terms of the settlement, the majority of the credited relief went to help homeowners lower their mortgage payments and take them out of foreclosure. Over 4,000 Tennessee homeowners received some type of assistance under the settlement with an average individual benefit estimated at over $40,000.

The settlement included the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers:  Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, GMAC/Ally Financial and Wells Fargo.  After investigating complaints about foreclosure abuses from homeowners throughout the state, Tennessee participated on the multistate executive committee for 2012 settlement. 

“We are pleased to see that Tennesseans have received substantial benefits under the National Mortgage Settlement,” says Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper.  “In working with homeowners throughout the state, we have seen firsthand how the settlement has allowed struggling homeowners to lower their monthly payments and avoid foreclosure.”

The settlement’s monitor will continue to review the banks’ compliance with the settlement’s servicing standards. The standards require the five banks to evaluate homeowners for all options to foreclosure, including the federal Making Home Affordable Program, on a fair and timely basis. With the servicing standards still in effect, the Tennessee Attorney General’s office will continue to work with homeowners who have disputes with the five banks.

The state of Tennessee has also set up a free mortgage assistance hotline for all homeowners regardless of who services their mortgage. If having trouble paying a mortgage, call 855.876-7283. For a list of free housing counselors in the area, visit http://www.keepmytnhome.org.


Local CPA Firm Announces Name Change

For 14 years, Hutchinson & Walls CPAs, PC has been serving clients in the Chattanooga and North Georgia communities. This month, the firm announces its new name, The Walls Group, CPAs. Not only will the name change but the firm is also adding licensing in Florida to current licensing in Tennessee and Georgia.   Mellanee Walls, owner and CPA with more than 20 years ... (click for more)

Baker Donelson Participates in 2015 Corporate Equality Index

The law firm of Baker Donelson has received a score of 85 in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The HRC's CEI report is a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workplace equality administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Baker ... (click for more)

6,533 Apply For Chattanooga Housing Authority Voucher Program

The Chattanooga Housing Authority closed its Housing Choice Voucher Program application process Monday at 11:59 p.m. There were 6,533 applicants. CHA will randomly select 1,000 of those names on Monday, for the voucher program waiting list. Anyone who is not selected will need to apply again in the future.  The Housing Choice Voucher program is a federal government program ... (click for more)

Times Free Press Pays Bonuses, Has Layoffs

The Chattanooga Times Free Press told employees on Monday that the newspaper had improved financial performance over the prior year quarters and employees were receiving two percent bonuses. Sources said at the same time, the newspaper announced some layoffs. Those include four people in the newsroom and an unspecified number in other departments. Bruce Hartmann, president, ... (click for more)

Shelley Andrews Will Be Missed

Shelley Andrews was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and most effective laborers in our community.  Her work with the Friends of Moccasin Bend was exemplary.  She listened, she learned and she led with dignity and class. Her brave battle with ovarian cancer was a testament to her positive spirit and commitment to her work on behalf of the people of this region. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: He’s Exempt From Drunk

I love the old story about a popular Senator who, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, was asked late one evening, “Sir, what if we get bombed?” to which came the quick reply, “I’d be absolutely delighted … I can get one of my aides to drive us home afterwards.” You think of stuff like that when word comes from Kentucky that state legislator Brandon Smith was caught driving erratically ... (click for more)