Joseph Smith, the Monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement, has issued his Final Compliance Update. He writes,
I have filed a set of five compliance reports with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia as Monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS or Settlement). The following report summarizes these reports, which detail my review of each servicer’s performance on the Settlement’s servicing reforms. This report includes:
• An overview of the process through which my team and I have reviewed the servicers’ work.
• Summaries of each servicer’s performance for the third quarter 2015.
Pursuant to the Settlement, the requirement to comply with the servicing standards ended for Bank of America, Chase, Citi, Ditech and Wells Fargo as of the end of the third quarter 2015. Accordingly, this is my last report under the NMS for these servicers. Like all mortgage servicers, they are still required to follow servicing-related rules issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). (2)
The Settlement has improved the way these servicers treat distressed borrowers, and, under its consumer relief requirements, the banks provided more than 640,000 borrowers with $51 billion in debt forgiveness, loan modifications, short sale assistance and refinancing at a time when families and the market were subject to distress and uncertainty.
I believe the Settlement has contributed towards the rebuilding of public trust and confidence in the mortgage market and hope that it will inform future regulation of financial institutions and markets. I look forward to further discussions on these topics among policymakers, consumer advocates and mortgage servicers. (13)
I have blogged about the Monitor’s earlier reports and have been somewhat unhappy with them. Of course, his primary audience is the District Court to which he is submitting these reports. But I do not believe that the the reports have “contributed towards the rebuilding of public trust and confidence in the mortgage market” all that much. The final accounting should be accurate, but it should also be understandable to more than a select few.
The reports have been opaque and have not give the public (even the pretty well-informed members of the public, like me) much information with which to contextualize their findings. I hope that future settlements like this take into account the need to explain the findings of decision makers and court-appointed monitors so that the public can have a better sense of whether justice was truly done.