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FORECLOSURE PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION: THE IMPORTANCE OF LOSS MITIGATION STRATEGIES IN KEEPING FAMILIES IN THEIR HOMES FIELD HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND COMMUNITY OPPORTUNITY OF THE COMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED TENTH CONGRESS FIRST SESSION NOVEMBER 30, 2007 Printed for the use of the Committee on Financial Services Serial No. 110–81 ( U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE WASHINGTON 40–433 PDF : 2008 For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office Internet: bookstore.gpo.gov Phone: toll free (866) 512–1800; DC area (202) 512–1800 Fax: (202) 512–2104 Mail: Stop IDCC, Washington, DC 20402–0001 VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 5011 Sfmt 5011 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts, Chairman PAUL E. KANJORSKI, Pennsylvania MAXINE WATERS, California CAROLYN B. MALONEY, New York LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, Illinois ´ NYDIA M. VELAZQUEZ, New York MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York JULIA CARSON, Indiana BRAD SHERMAN, California GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York DENNIS MOORE, Kansas MICHAEL E. CAPUANO, Massachusetts ´ RUBEN HINOJOSA, Texas WM. LACY CLAY, Missouri CAROLYN MCCARTHY, New York JOE BACA, California STEPHEN F. LYNCH, Massachusetts BRAD MILLER, North Carolina DAVID SCOTT, Georgia AL GREEN, Texas EMANUEL CLEAVER, Missouri MELISSA L. BEAN, Illinois GWEN MOORE, Wisconsin, LINCOLN DAVIS, Tennessee ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey PAUL W. HODES, New Hampshire KEITH ELLISON, Minnesota RON KLEIN, Florida TIM MAHONEY, Florida CHARLES A. WILSON, Ohio ED PERLMUTTER, Colorado CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut JOE DONNELLY, Indiana ROBERT WEXLER, Florida JIM MARSHALL, Georgia DAN BOREN, Oklahoma SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana DEBORAH PRYCE, Ohio MICHAEL N. CASTLE, Delaware PETER T. KING, New York EDWARD R. ROYCE, California FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma RON PAUL, Texas STEVEN C. LATOURETTE, Ohio DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois WALTER B. JONES, JR., North Carolina JUDY BIGGERT, Illinois CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, Connecticut GARY G. MILLER, California SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia TOM FEENEY, Florida JEB HENSARLING, Texas SCOTT GARRETT, New Jersey GINNY BROWN-WAITE, Florida J. GRESHAM BARRETT, South Carolina JIM GERLACH, Pennsylvania STEVAN PEARCE, New Mexico RANDY NEUGEBAUER, Texas TOM PRICE, Georgia GEOFF DAVIS, Kentucky PATRICK T. MCHENRY, North Carolina JOHN CAMPBELL, California ADAM PUTNAM, Florida MICHELE BACHMANN, Minnesota PETER J. ROSKAM, Illinois THADDEUS G. McCOTTER, Michigan KEVIN McCARTHY, California JEANNE M. ROSLANOWICK, Staff Director and Chief Counsel (II) VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 5904 Sfmt 5904 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE SUBCOMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND COMMUNITY OPPORTUNITY MAXINE WATERS, California, Chairwoman ´ NYDIA M. VELAZQUEZ, New York JULIA CARSON, Indiana STEPHEN F. LYNCH, Massachusetts EMANUEL CLEAVER, Missouri AL GREEN, Texas WM. LACY CLAY, Missouri CAROLYN B. MALONEY, New York GWEN MOORE, Wisconsin, ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey KEITH ELLISON, Minnesota CHARLES A. WILSON, Ohio CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut JOE DONNELLY, Indiana BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia STEVAN PEARCE, New Mexico PETER T. KING, New York JUDY BIGGERT, Illinois CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, Connecticut GARY G. MILLER, California SCOTT GARRETT, New Jersey RANDY NEUGEBAUER, Texas GEOFF DAVIS, Kentucky JOHN CAMPBELL, California THADDEUS G. McCOTTER, Michigan KEVIN McCARTHY, California (III) VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 5904 Sfmt 5904 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 5904 Sfmt 5904 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE CONTENTS Page Hearing held on: November 30, 2007 ........................................................................................... Appendix: November 30, 2007 ........................................................................................... 1 91 WITNESSES FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2007 Albon, Michaela, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Home Loans Division, Washington Mutual ............................................................................. Arnold, LeFrancis, Vice Chair, Affordable Housing Committee, California Association of Realtors ............................................................................................. Bates, Joseph C., Director, Santa Ana Homeownership Center, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ......................................................... Blackwell, Brad, Executive Vice President, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage ......... Burnie, Evalyn, Leader, Los Angeles ACORN, accompanied by Richard Castro, NeighborWorks America ............................................................................... Cho, Hee Suk, Homeowner, Camarillo, California, accompanied by Joshua Byung An, Korean Churches for Community Development, serving as a translator .............................................................................................................. Clark, Yolanda, President-Elect, Multicultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change .................................................................................................................. Deutsch, Tom, Deputy Executive Director, American Securitization Forum ..... Frisbee, Margaret, Pacific District Director, NeighborWorks America ............... Heedly, William, Homeowner, Carson, California ................................................ Herrera, Pastor, Director, Department of Consumer Affairs, Los Angeles County ................................................................................................................... Krimminger, Michael H., Chairman’s Special Advisor for Policy, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ................................................................................ Lee, Karen, Homeowner, Los Angeles, CA ............................................................ Leonard, Paul, California Office Director, Center for Responsible Lending ....... Peters, Heather, Deputy Secretary for Business Regulation, Department of Business, Transportation, and Housing, State of California ............................ Rogan, Sean, Director, Department of Housing and Community Development, City of Oakland, California ................................................................................. Samuels, Sandor, Executive Managing Director, Countrywide Financial Corporation ................................................................................................................. Smith, Ed, Jr., Vice President, California Association of Mortgage Brokers ..... Thomas, Anna M., Homeowner, San Pedro, CA ................................................... Twomey, Tara, Of Counsel, National Consumer Law Center .............................. Villaraigosa, Hon. Antonio R., Mayor of Los Angeles, California ........................ Young, Hon. Anthony, City Council President Pro Tempore, San Diego, California ..................................................................................................................... 37 72 15 39 79 68 74 41 78 67 21 17 44 45 19 22 35 70 44 76 12 10 APPENDIX Prepared statements: Lantos, Hon. Tom ............................................................................................. Albon, Michaela ................................................................................................ Bates, Joseph C. ............................................................................................... Blackwell, Brad ................................................................................................. Deutsch, Tom .................................................................................................... Frisbee, Margaret ............................................................................................. Herrera, Pastor ................................................................................................. 92 94 99 103 108 113 121 (V) VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 5904 Sfmt 5904 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE VI Page Prepared statements—Continued Krimminger, Michael H. .................................................................................. Lee, Karen ......................................................................................................... Samuels, Sandor ............................................................................................... Smith, Ed, Jr. ................................................................................................... Twomey, Tara ................................................................................................... Villaraigosa, Hon. Antonio R. .......................................................................... Young, Hon. Anthony ....................................................................................... ADDITIONAL MATERIAL SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD Waters, Hon. Maxine: Statement of the NAACP ................................................................................. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 5904 Sfmt 5904 125 141 142 157 165 176 188 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN 190 PsN: TERRIE FORECLOSURE PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION: THE IMPORTANCE OF LOSS MITIGATION STRATEGIES IN KEEPING FAMILIES IN THEIR HOMES Friday, November 30, 2007, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SUBCOMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND COMMUNITY OPPORTUNITY, COMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES, Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., at the California Science Center, 700 State Drive, Los Angeles, California, Hon. Maxine Waters [chairwoman of the subcommittee] presiding. Members present: Representatives Waters and Green. Also present: Representatives Napolitano, Richardson, Sanchez, and Watson. Chairwoman WATERS. This hearing of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity will come to order. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to start by thanking the California Science Center for once again allowing us to use this wonderful space for our subcommittee hearing, as they did last year. In addition to the hearing, you all should be aware that resources are being made available next door to assist homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure. Please stop by if you or somebody you know is facing problems making mortgage payments, and the good folks from Neighborhood Housing Services and others can work with you. I would also like to thank Congressman Al Green, from Texas— one of our most dedicated subcommittee members—for traveling all the way from Houston to join us today. And, finally, without objection, Representative Grace Napolitano, Representative Laura Richardson, and we will soon be joined by Representative Linda Sanchez, will all be considered members of the subcommittee for this hearing, and their opening statements will be made a part of the record. I would like to thank them for participating today. They are not members of the subcommittee, but they care so much about this issue that they wanted very much to be here and they are here. Thank you very, very much. Before we hear from our panels, I would like to explain briefly why we are having this hearing and what I hope to accomplish today. Hopefully, this will help the witnesses focus on their re(1) VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 2 marks and responses to members’ questions. First, with respect to the ‘‘why’’ of holding this hearing, it would be arguably derelict of this subcommittee not to hold hearings regarding the subprime mortgage market and home foreclosure crisis. This issue is not only the biggest story in housing, in the whole housing world that this subcommittee operates in daily, it is currently the biggest economic story in the Nation, and perhaps the world. A field hearing in California is warranted, given that our State lies at the epicenter of the foreclosure wave. California’s third quarter foreclosure rate of 1 filing for every 88 households ranks second highest among all States and reflects a near quadrupling of the number reported for the same period last year; 8 of the top 20 cities in foreclosure filings are in California. Clearly, then, there is no better place to gauge the response to date by public and private stakeholders than here. And the stakes could not be higher. Having watched the turmoil in the mortgage markets unfold over the past year, it has struck me that two assessments made at various points by key prognosticators inside and outside government have yet to hold true. The first such claim is anything along the lines of, ‘‘This foreclosure crisis isn’t as big as we thought it was, and we appear to have our arms around the magnitude of the problem.’’ The second quote is, ‘‘This problem in the housing finance sector is unlikely to have tremendous impact on the rest of the economy and threaten growth.’’ Rather, at every step the scope of the crisis has proven to be larger than originally anticipated, including by the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve. And we have not yet reached the crest of the wave, as millions of adjustable rate mortgages are scheduled to reset over the next 12 months. Similarly, initial assurances that the problems of the mortgage market are unlikely to spill over into the rest of the domestic and global economy now seem wildly overoptimistic. Many of the Nation’s largest financial institutions find themselves heavily invested in mortgage-backed securities of uncertain and declining value with extraordinary ripple effects being felt across the global financial markets. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers now puts the chances of avoiding recession at less than 50 percent, unless decisive action is taken. I take this warning very seriously, as I witnessed how the S&L crisis of the late 1980’s contributed directly to the recession of the early 1990’s, which in turn brought a 20 percent drop in California housing prices during my first 6 years in Congress. I would note, further, that the financial services industry now makes up nearly twice the share of gross domestic product compared to then, meaning an unredressed crisis in that sector is far less likely to be segregated from overall economic wellbeing today. So the magnitude and urgency of the crisis clearly merits a hearing. Let me proceed, then, to my second point, namely what we are trying to accomplish with this hearing. As a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, I have obviously been involved in the committee’s many activities around the subprime crisis spearheaded by a very able chairman from Massachusetts, Chairman VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 3 Barney Frank. However, the focus of many of our hearings and legislative activities has been on preventing the next crisis. The House recently passed H.R. 3915, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007, which puts in place new Federal standards for loans designed to prevent ongoing abuses in the subprime market. While I remain concerned that the preemption provisions of this bill may inhibit States from taking on the pioneering enforcement role they assumed in the current crisis, there is no question that H.R. 3915 is a significant piece of prospective legislation. Today, though, I want to focus on the effectiveness of what is being done to address this crisis right now. To a large extent, such measures by Federal regulators and the major private sector stakeholders have had to take place under existing legal authority, though we in Congress have certainly encouraged them to interpret the authority so as to take bold rather than timid steps. This has included, for example, House passage of my FHA modernization bill, H.R. 1852, designed in part to make FHA insurance more available to assist currently distressed homeowners. Even before Senate and presidential action on this bill, HUD heard the signal of congressional intent and created the FHA Secure Program under its current authority to give the FHA a more central role in the current crisis. Simply put, the overarching question of the day is, how is it going? In other words, what has been the impact on the ground to actual borrowers of the various loss mitigation initiatives that we have heard about in Washington? This, of course, includes such national initiatives as FHA Secure and HOPE NOW Alliance between major mortgage servicers—and NeighborWorks—and State efforts like the agreement announced by Governor Schwarzenegger a few days ago. I am especially focused on the rate at which distressed borrowers are receiving timely, effective loan modifications from their servicers. I have said from the beginning of the crisis that the mortgage servicers are the key to any solution. They are literally where the rubber hits the road in a system, where a homeowner’s actual mortgage may be sitting in third tranche of a security held by an investor 6,000 miles away. I fully recognize that servicers face constraints on their actions, most obviously the pooling and servicing agreements that they have with their investors. They are under a fiduciary obligation not to just give away the store, and efforts to help a homeowner and avoid foreclosure, but not all homeowners are similarly situated in terms of the appropriate loss mitigation strategies. At the same time, however, I am concerned about reports that servicers have not been moving as quickly as they might under their current authority. Indeed, I fear we may have lost critical time as servicers and the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve have only recently begun to concede that a plodding loanby-loan renegotiating and reunderwriting process simply won’t get the job done fast enough to stem this crisis. I understand that Secretary Paulson yesterday met with a number of the servicers represented here today to discuss this very issue, and I am interested to hear more about that meeting than VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 4 may have been reported in the press today. To be clear, I enter this hearing with an open mind. I hope that servicers will tell me and the members of this subcommittee about any further obstacles to decisive action that this subcommittee might help with. And, further, that the reports we hear today from consumer groups, regulators, and homeowner witnesses, indicate things are moving in California at an appropriately rapid pace. But I would be less than honest if I did not share up front my concern that they are not. Even more distressing are reports that servicers profit from foreclosure fees far more than I think many of us suspected, adding to my eagerness to confirm that their actions underground in California are consistent with their reports to the full committee when it comes to engaging in effective loss mitigation strategies. Today’s hearing, in turn, informed the subcommittee’s legislative work in regard to mortgage servicers and loss mitigation. Indeed, during the markup of H.R. 3837, the Escrow, Appraisal, and Mortgage Servicing Improvement Act, Subcommittee Chairman Kanjorski and I agreed to focus on the question of whether some duty for servicers to engage in loss mitigation activities is called for and given current circumstances. With that, I would like to thank all of our elected officials who may be in the audience today. I know that Assemblyman Mike Davis is with us today. And I know that he is working on this very issue and will be having a hearing that is coming up, I believe, on December 8th. So we will share that information with our audience before we leave here today. With that, I would like to recognize Mr. Green, the Congressman from Houston, for his opening statement. Mr. GREEN. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. I especially want to thank you for convening this most timely hearing, and I would like to, if I may, just thank you for what you have been able to do in just a few months as Chair of the Housing Subcommittee. In a very short period of time, Madam Chairwoman, I am grateful that you have taken on some of the pressing issues, including issues of 2/28s and 3/27s, issues that would allow persons to get fixed financing for 2 years, and then variable financing for 28 years, 3 years in the 3/27s and 27 years of variable financing. I am mentioning these things because I want you to understand that I am appreciative that you have made a difference in the lives of people by virtue of being chair of this subcommittee. You have truly been the harbinger of help for the helpless and a purveyor of power to the powerless. And, friends, I think that even in subcommittee hearings like this it is appropriate to give an expression of appreciation to a Chair who is working tirelessly to make life better for the least, the last, the lost, and those who are trying to fulfill the American dream. So I come today, and I am honored to be here, with an understanding that Dr. Martin Luther King imparted to us. He reminded us that life is an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. What impacts one directly impacts all indirectly. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 5 And that is why this subprime crisis is one that everyone must be concerned with. Those who say, ‘‘Let them suffer. They made their beds hard, let them lay, let them lie, let them stay,’’ friends, they are mistaken. This problem is not one that will be localized. There are many prime homes in areas where subprime loans have been made. And when the for sale signs are up, the value of property goes down. When the value of property goes down, taxes are smaller. When property taxes are smaller, schools, roads, and infrastructure don’t get the repair that is needed. So you cannot conclude that because I did not get a subprime loan that may go into default that I don’t have a problem. This is an American problem, and we all must be involved in the solution to the problem, especially the Housing Subcommittee and the United States Congress. If the President decides that he is going to call together some business persons and try to work out a system, a solution, I think that is wonderful. If the courts rule appropriately in certain cases, the Judiciary Branch of government, I think that is wonderful. But I think people expect the Housing Subcommittee to do what we are doing today, and that is to hold hearings to try to find out how we can be of assistance to homeowners across the length and breadth of this country. And when we do this, we are interested in not knowing that we have some catchy slogan, like ‘‘Hope Now,’’ which is a good one, and I don’t want to demean the process, but I understand that people really want help now. HOPE NOW is a great way to impart a desire for people to continue, but the people that I talked to, they want help now. And they understand that the details are where you either are going to have more hope that will lead to help or you are going to find that you are stalled in a process that does not lend itself to your getting the help that you need. Again, this is not something that is isolated to any community or any given neighborhood. It is something that is happening across the length and breadth of this country. I also want to acknowledge and appreciate very much what is being said by members of the Administration with reference to their desire to be of help, but I do wonder if they are aware that we have already passed legislation through this subcommittee to do much of what they are saying they want Congress to do. And it may be time for people to become truthful and say they want certain aspects of Congress to act that have not acted, because this subcommittee has been moving tirelessly to make sure that homeowners will have the opportunity to keep their homes. So I look forward to hearing from the witnesses who are here today, and I assure you that I will have some questions that I think will be of interest to them and to me and to the constituents that I serve, given that we have about 2.5 million adjustable mortgages that will adjust by the end of next year, and that is about $600 billion. That is going to have a tremendous impact. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has indicated that at least 1.4 million homes will enter into foreclosure next year. That is going to have a significant impact. The size of the problem is large, but it is one that we can manage. We only have to decide that we are willing to work together. This chairwoman has been willing to work VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 6 with whomever will work with her, and I join her, and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, for your time. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Thank you. Next, I would like to recognize one of my colleagues that I work very closely with—and we are so lucky to have such a wonderful group of elected officials in this overall area—Grace Napolitano representing the 38th Congressional District. Mrs. NAPOLITANO. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. I will keep my remarks short and brief. But I echo Congressman Green’s sentiments about Chairwoman Waters, because any time I have an issue on public service or on fairness and justice, I know I can call her and she is sitting right there next to me trying to fight for the ones who do not have a voice. This is something that affects the economy of the United States. It affects the heart of our people. People have a home, they have roots, they have the ability to educate their children, they have the ability to own businesses. This is economy. This is the future of what we have been striving for, and to lose it for many will be catastrophic. And we want to ensure that anybody who has an issue can understand that this Chair and this subcommittee has been putting forth the propositions, and hopefully they will get out of the Senate to be able to address what has been happening throughout the United States. And understand that a lot of what is—I have seen and heard is that foreign corporations are buying us up. We cannot afford to have them do that. Land is ours. It is our people. And as you can see, it is a very diverse America that we must continue to be able to support in moving forward to protect our families and our communities. So thank you for allowing me to be part of your hearing. I may not be able to stay the whole time, because I have other commitments, but this is a very serious matter for my area also, and I am sure for the rest of California and the Nation. And I thank you for your leadership and hope my colleagues will consider coming into my area some time within the not-too-distant future, because we need to spread the word about what is really happening and how we can work together to address that. So thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and I am very happy to be here. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. We will be joined shortly by Ms. Sanchez, who is on her way here and has been caught up in traffic. But next we are going to hear from one of our newer Members of Congress. We are so pleased and proud that Laura Richardson has joined us in the Congress of the United States of America. She hit the ground running, and she is focused on this issue. I think she may have cut short a trip that she was involved in to get back here, so that she could be at this hearing today. Thank you, Congresswoman Laura Richardson. I will recognize you for your opening statement. Ms. RICHARDSON. Thank you, Chairwoman Waters, for holding this very important hearing today. Domestically, I cannot think of another topic that is more important to all of the citizens of Cali- VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 7 fornia and the United States when you look at it nationwide than the current crisis that is occurring in the housing market. It was just less than 5 years ago that lenders across the country were recording record sales, and countless Americans were experiencing the joy of becoming new homeowners as they took out subprime loans and adjustable rate mortgages to finance their dreams. However, as the old saying goes, ‘‘If something is too good to be true, it probably is.’’ Preying on wide-eyed aspirations of many low-income first-time homebuyers, some lenders disregarded industry-wide lending standards for an opportunity to take advantage of a booming housing market that saw home prices increase dramatically at the turn of this century. With teaser rates that are now set to explode, the dream that many families set out to achieve has become, in less than 2 years, an absolute nightmare. The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that 8.4 million neighboring homes in California will experience devaluation because of foreclosures in California. The same study reveals that the foreclosures can bring down the values of not only that person’s home, but their neighboring area as well. As was stated by Representative Green, when you have the decrease in overall property value for a particular neighborhood, that reduces the tax base, and the local government then that depends upon those dollars is unable to adequately fund for police, firefighting services, garbage pickup, and public schooling. This clearly illustrates that this is a community problem that we are all affected by. It is painfully obvious that we cannot sit back and do nothing, not when the foreclosure crunch is being felt by more Californians than in any other State in the Nation. As I get ready to close, I would like to speak to you a little bit about my district. Statistics from the 37th Congressional District, which includes Watts, Compton, Long Beach, Carson, and Signal Hill, are alarming to say the least. Thirty-six percent of the loans originated in my district were subprime loans. One in five of these subprime loans will end in foreclosure. That means that the 37th Congressional District, of more than 225,000 surrounding homes, will be affected by the price declines as a result of these foreclosures. As a Member of Congress, we recently passed legislation, H.R. 3915, that was recently stated, but you need to know on something that I feel quite passionate about that if we were to look at this situation related to a disaster, similar to the recent fires or what happened in Katrina, stronger efforts probably would have been taken. And I am here to say that just because there is not a fire, just because there is not a flood, this must be addressed in our community. Again, I want to thank Congresswoman Waters. You should all know, sometimes when we are involved in local government you hear something that a person is a chair of a particular committee, and you may not understand the magnitude of that. Congresswoman Waters has had a long history of advocacy regarding many issues, but in particular of housing and the work that was done in Katrina was something that was needed. We are fortunate that she VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 8 happens to represent us here in California, but she is spearheading this issue across the Nation. I am more than happy to stand with her and the other members of this subcommittee as we have this hearing to figure out what additional solutions can be brought forward to address this very serious problem. Thank you, Chairwoman Waters, for your leadership. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you so very much. The other member who will be with us today, working with us today, just arrived. And, again, as I said, we are so fortunate here in Southern California to have such strong advocates for people, for working people, for poor people, and such a representative is Ms. Linda Sanchez from the 39th Congressional District. Thank you so much for being with us today, and I will recognize you for an opening statement. Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. My apologies for my tardiness, but the traffic and the rain are a bad combination in Los Angeles. Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Ms. SANCHEZ. I am pleased to be here this morning, and I really want to thank Chairwoman Waters for organizing today’s hearing and for inviting me to participate in it. Her leadership on this critical issue has been a key part of Congress’ effort to develop solutions for working and middle-class families who find their American dream at risk of becoming a nightmare. The subprime mortgage crisis has inflicted severe stress on our national financial system and has even triggered concerns in our global economy. Falling real estate prices and a reduction in the availability of loans are making it more difficult for overstretched homeowners to either refinance their way out of trouble or even to simply sell their homes. In 2006, 1.2 million foreclosures in the United States were recorded. That is almost double the number that existed in 2005. By this year’s end, foreclosures could reach the 2 million mark, and statistics of this magnitude haven’t been seen in this country since the Great Depression. The subprime mortgage crisis has hit our economy hard and will continue to spiral downward if we don’t address it with swift and discernible action. If changes to the mortgage lending system are not made, an astounding $400 billion worth of mortgage defaults will occur in the United States between now and 2008. In my Congressional District alone, where 31 percent of home mortgages made in 2005 and 2006 are subprime loans, that means that one in every five of those families will likely receive a notice of foreclosure. One in every five. Challenges posed by the subprime mortgage crisis don’t end with those who lose their homes. Even those who are fortunate enough to pay their mortgages on time and be able to maintain their homes will be affected. Foreclosures reduce property values of nearby properties and induce lenders to tighten credit, making borrowing credit more expensive even for those with good credit. Approximately 198,000 homes in my district face price declines amounting to about $2.4 billion in home equity loss due to the fallout from the foreclosures. So even if you don’t have a subprime VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 9 mortgage, don’t think for a second that this crisis isn’t going to affect you. We must all do what we can to help prevent additional foreclosures and to ensure that lenders no longer have incentives to lend carelessly to subprime borrowers with shaky credit. The Emergency Home Ownership and Mortgage Equity Protection Act of 2007, which I introduced in September along with our colleague, Brad Miller of North Carolina, is just one of the measures that we are working on in Congress to protect American families during this financially turbulent time. This bill would protect homeowners whose situations are so dire that they have no other option but to declare bankruptcy. This legislation would help at least 600,000 U.S. families and homeowners affected by the subprime lending crisis to avoid losing their homes as a result of foreclosure. It would allow bankruptcy judges to restructure home mortgage debt as they concurrently do for mortgages on investment properties, vacation homes, and family farms. Currently, the law allows bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages for families who are fortunate to own a second home, such as a vacation home or an investment property, but denies judges the ability to do the same for working class families whose only property is the home they live in. And that simply doesn’t make sense to me, given that most Americans only own one piece of property, and that is the home that they live in. All homeowners should be treated similarly and have access to the full range of financial support and options available, whether they have multiple vacation homes or just one cozy cottage. The Emergency Home Ownership and Mortgage Equity Protection Act provides that relief and simultaneously lessens the pressure on the mortgage market and the broader economy. With even more subprime loans scheduled to reset at higher interest rates in the next 18 months, mortgage servicers and Congress must act now to prevent the current wave of foreclosures from turning into a tsunami of foreclosures. I want to thank all of our distinguished witnesses in advance for taking the time to be here, and I look forward to their testimony. I thank the gentlewoman, and I yield back the remainder of my time. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Thank you. Before I introduce our first panel of witnesses, I would like to thank all of you who have taken time to come here today, particularly in the rain. I had not expected such a turnout. You do me proud. Thank you very much. Give yourselves a big round of applause. Ladies and gentlemen, we are expecting the Mayor, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to join us. He has a very tight schedule, and we will try and put him on as soon as he comes in the room. Now I would like to introduce our witnesses for the first panel: the Honorable Anthony Young, city council president pro tempore, from San Diego, California; Mr. Joseph Bates, Director, Santa Ana Homeownership Center, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Mr. Mike Krimminger, Chairman’s Special Advisor for Policy for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Ms. Heather Peters, deputy secretary for business regulation, Depart- VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 10 ment of Business, Transportation, and Housing, State of California; Mr. Pastor Herrera, director, Department of Consumer Affairs, Los Angeles County; and Mr. Sean Rogan, director, Department of Housing and Community Development, City of Oakland, California. I would like to thank all of you for appearing before the subcommittee today, and without objection, your written statements will be made a part of the record. You will now be recognized for a 5-minute summary of your testimony. I will start with the Honorable Anthony Young. Thank you for being here. STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ANTHONY YOUNG, CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA Mr. YOUNG. Thank you, Chairwoman Waters. And before I begin, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the work that you have done. The individuals in San Diego have recognized that, and they sent me to tell you thank you for all of your work. I have watched all of your careers, and I just want to say thank you for all the work that you have done. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you. Mr. YOUNG. On behalf of the City of San Diego and the CityCounty Reinvestment Task Force, I would like to thank you again for your invitation. We appreciate your interest in a topic which for the City of San Diego, the State, and the country is having a profound impact on people’s lives and our economy. The impact is being felt by all segments of the population, including our military. In the first 9 months of this year, 15,582 homes have received notices of default from their lenders in San Diego County alone. Forty percent of those end up in foreclosure. Between January of 2007 and September, foreclosures have increased by 100 percent in San Diego County. We project this rate to increase and continue unabated for the next 2 years based on the volume of subprime loans dumped into the local market. And I say ‘‘dumped’’ onto our local market because the majority of those loans have come from mortgage brokers who are no longer in business. Over 70 firms in San Diego County in our region are either— have either gone bankrupt or are selling off over the past 2 years. We have been victimized by an industry that functions without regulations, with minimal supervisions, that can appear and disappear without penalty and without responsibility for the damage that they inflict on people’s lives in this economy. It troubles me to think that our servicemen and women who are currently fighting and putting their lives on the line to protect our country are particularly being preyed upon. Historically, in San Diego, crises in the housing market are caused by a combination of external or economic factors. In this case, the foreclosure epidemic has been caused by unregulated funds from new State licensed mortgage lenders, most of whom are no longer in business as I said before, home mortgage brokers being paid double and triple commissions for subprime and predatory loans targeted to low-income, and particularly ethnic borrowers, lack of State supervision or authority to regulate interest rates and loan terms in the absence of supervision over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their policies related to securities’ pur- VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 11 chase of subprime and predatory home loan products, and lack of national regulations related to securities, and leveraged finance obligations for Wall Street investments. The City-County Reinvestment Task Force, which I chair, has been following this issue for the last 2 years. We have filed comments on pending legislation with Federal bank regulators, the Banking and Finance Committee of Congress, the State, and directly to a number of major regulated financial institutions, many of them who actually sit on the Reinvestment Task Force that I chair. Seeing little if any action at any level has resulted in our adoption of local strategies to attempt to manage this serious economic problem. For the last year, this task force has held hearings in order to define the problem and engage in finding tangible solutions. We have created a list of recommendations that were presented and adopted by the City Council at the City of San Diego. Some of the recommendations and actions were to direct the City and county lobbyists to aggressively support Federal and State legislation which provides increased funding of nonprofits for foreclosure counseling, that establishes rules and regulations for unregulated mortgage companies and brokers, that the Reinvestment Task Force will work in partnership with nonprofits and State coalitions to negotiate with major lenders for reasonable workout programs and loan products for customers. And we recommend that the city, county, and State legal authorities develop an enforcement strategy for interdicting, reducing, and removing predatory mortgage lending practices in the region, including review of potential security violations. We also requested that the city and county establish an ordinance regarding inspection and monitoring of foreclosed properties for code violations and ongoing maintenance. That the FNMA and the Veterans Administration modify loan limits to compensate for the cost of housing in the San Diego market, which I also believe that is an issue here in Los Angeles. We encourage the FNMA and the Veterans Administration to develop specific foreclosure alternative products, including refinancing and engaging in aggressive marketing efforts to our veterans. Many of our communities are now sitting with vacant properties—five to six on a block—depressing the local market and inviting blight and criminal behavior to normally pleasant communities. Following the lead of a City just south of us, Chula Vista, which has been hit particularly hard, we have an ordinance that requires banks to maintain these empty, vacant properties under the threat of penalty. We want them off the market before they infect the vitality of communities that have had to struggle for years—over the years to become— Chairwoman WATERS. I need you to wrap up. Mr. YOUNG. I will. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you. Mr. YOUNG. Yes, ma’am. Basically, what I would say to this subcommittee—and thank you for the time that you have allotted to me—is that this is a national problem, even an international prob- VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 12 lem. But I would also say that local agencies really have to be a part of this. Home counseling, aggressive marketing to individuals, letting people know that they do have options, and then one of the things I would say to this subcommittee is allow the use of CDBG funds that cities already have to be able to—to be used for the home counseling that is so important now. The last thing I would say, Ms. Waters—and thank you for giving me this extra time—is to also understand that there is going to be something happening after this. And there is a tsunami that Ms. Richardson talked about that we are in the middle of. But after the tsunami, there are some things that we should do, including finding opportunities for individuals to get back in their homes. Thank you for the opportunity to speak. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Mr. YOUNG. I appreciate it. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you. [The prepared statement of Mr. Young can be found on page 188 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Ladies and gentlemen, I mentioned that we would be joined by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He is now here. We thank you for being here, Mr. Mayor. We know how concerned you are about this housing crisis that we have, so we will recognize you for the next 5 minutes. STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ANTONIO R. VILLARAIGOSA, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA Mayor VILLARAIGOSA. Madam Chairwoman, it is good to be here with you. Congressman Green, and Congresswomen Napolitano, Sanchez, and Richardson, it is good to be with all of you. Thank you for holding this hearing here in the City of Los Angeles. We believe that it is important to put a light on the widening crisis of home foreclosures here in the City. In the last year, we witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of foreclosures; 2007 has been the worst year on record here in the City of Los Angeles. In the first quarter of 2006, there were 115 foreclosures in the City of Los Angeles. By the first quarter of 2007, foreclosures had increased 6-fold with 716 families losing title to their homes. Since then, we have seen the crisis escalate in its scope and scale. Foreclosures rose to 850 in the second quarter and 1,177 in the quarter ending in September. Most alarmingly, we see the foreclosure crisis hurting people in our most economically vulnerable neighborhoods. In these neighborhoods, as was mentioned a few minutes ago, we are losing dozens of homes a day. The 10 zip codes with the highest foreclosure activity, notices of default, foreclosure notices, foreclosure sales, were located in either South Los Angeles or the Northeast Valley. We also see that the crisis has a distinct face. The vast majority are subprime loans. The loans with the highest rates of foreclosure have been made to African-American and Latino households. There is gathering evidence that the corrosive effects of the foreclosure crisis is spreading, and one of the most pernicious side effects of widespread foreclosures is the increase in broken windows and neighborhood blight caused by abandoned buildings. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 13 Already in Los Angeles, we are seeing an increase in the number of abandoned building referrals to the Department of Building and Safety and a rise in the number of nuisance building cases referred to our Abandoned Building Task Force. The crisis is simply too big for half-measures and tinkering at the margins. And I do want to take a moment to go off script and acknowledge the leadership of Congresswoman Waters on this issue. This is not an issue that the Congresswoman first raised during this mortgage lending crisis. I remember being with her some 5 or 6—maybe it was 7—years ago with ACORN talking about this issue here in South Los Angeles, and I want to acknowledge you for that effort over the years. As you well know, we need a concerted well-organized campaign to demand adequate resources to address the misery that has been caused to ensure that the needed reforms take place. For this reason, I am calling on fellow California mayors to join me in a coalition to demand State and Federal legislation to bring necessary resources to our communities and to reform lending practices. We did not cause this crisis, but we are on the front lines of it. Our constituents are the ones who have suffered because those who have had the power to stop fraud and predatory lending were asleep at the switch. A strong, collective voice is needed to make sure this never happens again, and together with my fellow mayors, I intend to raise that voice. We also need local lender accountability. For this reason, I will shortly convene a meeting of our City’s largest lenders and mortgage servicers and create a program of local lender accountability. Lenders and mortgage servicers have signaled their desire to work with borrowers, and we believe that many of them are. However, we also believe that much can be done and much more should be done. As the crisis grows, the need for a streamlined, transparent process for loss mitigation will grow even more urgent. We need lenders to publicize their loss mitigation programs, and the criteria they use to decide how they can help distressed borrowers. We need lenders to tell us how they intend to manage foreclosed homes that are vacant, so that they do not contribute to urban blight. We need lenders to begin a meaningful discussion about creating a process to offer foreclosed properties to the City and to nonprofit organizations, so that these properties can be converted into community profit and affordable housing. Here in the City of Los Angeles, for 2 years running, and for the first time ever, we fully funded our Housing Trust Fund at $100 million, half of that money dedicated to permanent support of housing for the homeless. We believe that it is incumbent on these mortgage lenders and banks to participate with us in an effort to convert this housing into affordable housing. We cannot allow these properties to be snapped up by speculators. What we need now is support for the foreclosure counseling and legal aid agencies that help home buyers at risk of foreclosure. Here in the City of Los Angeles, we have committed $100,000 for foreclosure counseling, but as you know much more money is needed to expand these services. Incredibly, at the State level, these funds were cut to $2 million for the current fiscal year. An infusion VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 14 of Federal funds specifically designated for foreclosure counseling and legal assistance would not only help to avert future predatory mortgages but also help avert foreclosure of mortgages that are currently at risk. For this reason, we strongly support the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007, and would urge immediate Senate passage of your bill. Furthermore, we have to address the needs of borrowers who are currently at risk of losing their homes, and we have to challenge the banking industry to accept their responsibility to be a part of the solution. Here in California, Governor Schwarzenegger is demonstrating what is possible. A recent agreement announced between his office, Countrywide, GMAC, Litton, and HomeEq should serve as a model for the entire Nation to follow. Working in partnership with the mortgage industry, the Governor is forging a commonsense solution. We intend to work with him to build on that here in the City of Los Angeles. Finally, I also want to acknowledge the work of assembly speaker Fabian Nunez and assembly member and chair of the Assembly, Committee on Banking and Finance, Ted Lu. The speaker and Mr. Lu have put together a much-needed package to address foreclosure prevention measures, banning such things as prepayment penalties, no documentation loans as well. Requiring that lenders consider the borrower’s ability to repay the loan over the entire period is also crucial to protecting California borrowers. I am here today in support of this hearing, and intend to work with you, all of you. I have worked on many issues in the past on this very, very important issue. [The prepared statement of Mayor Villaraigosa can be found on page 176 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Well, Mr. Mayor, I would like to thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to be here today. Clearly, based on your testimony, you certainly know what is going on, and some of the proposals that you have just made and talked about are extremely important. You are absolutely correct. We need to get more money to the cities for counseling. We have $200 million that is in conference right now. The President is threatening to veto it. We hope not, because the cities just don’t have enough money to allocate toward this counseling and educating of our citizens. The Honorable Anthony Young from San Diego recommended that we use more CDBG money to do it, but you are so limited in your CDBG money, and there is such competition for it until it would put a real strain on the City’s use. We need new resources and new money, and we are going to fight for it. But we would hope that we get the message out there to encourage the President of the United States to sign the legislation that would put $200 million out into the cities very soon. I know that your time is limited. We thank you so much for appearing here today, and we look forward to working with you. Mayor VILLARAIGOSA. Well, thank you. Thank you, Chairwoman Waters. And I want you to know that on behalf of the City of Los Angeles, I recognize that though this hearing is being held here, if it is necessary for me to be with you anywhere, including Washington, D.C., on this issue I certainly am VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 15 prepared and willing to join you in this effort to ensure that the Federal Government is responsible and assisting in this effort. Thank you very much. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you so much, Mr. Mayor. Mayor VILLARAIGOSA. Thank you. Chairwoman WATERS. Ladies and gentlemen, I mentioned that we have such a strong group of Members of Congress in this area, and we are very blessed to have been joined by Congresswoman Diane Watson who is representing the 33rd Congressional District. Thank you very much for joining us today, Congresswoman Watson. We are going to move on with our witness panel, and then we will return to our members here to ask questions. I have something that I must do. There are so many rules of Congress when you run these committees. I must say that Representative Diane Watson will also be considered a member of this subcommittee for the duration of this hearing. Without objection, such is the order. We will move now to Mr. Joseph Bates, the Director of the Santa Ana Homeownership Center, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. STATEMENT OF JOSEPH BATES, DIRECTOR, SANTA ANA HOMEOWNERSHIP CENTER, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT Mr. BATES. Thank you. Chairwoman Waters and the distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to testify today on the efforts made by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the areas of foreclosure prevention and intervention. I am Joseph Bates, Director of HUD’s Santa Ana Homeownership Center. The significant effects of foreclosure on our national economy and on the world markets brings us here today. Congress and the Administration have for some time been looking at legislative and regulatory options for minimizing foreclosures. At HUD, I can report that we are working on both in our efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of this market correction on borrowers. One of the strongest tools we have to protect both borrowers and markets is the Federal Housing Administration, FHA. As you may know, HUD helps individuals secure credit by providing mortgage insurance through a private sector distribution network that makes owning a home more affordable and safe, and, therefore, a reality for many borrowers who might otherwise go underserved. HUD Secretary Alfonso Jackson has stated in previous testimony before Congress that he has firmly believed for some time that many of those who ultimately entered the subprime market would have been better off with an FHA-insured loan. Many may still be eligible to refinance today. Although we cannot go back in time to ensure that each borrower had made the best decision when obtaining a mortgage, we can provide refinancing options to many subprime borrowers, and we can do more to help people make better decisions going forward through both innovative products and counseling support. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 16 This week HUD released informational video footage containing foreclosure prevention tips and information for homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgage. Among other things, the video includes a list of 10 tips on how to avoid foreclosure. I suggest that anyone who owns a home or who is in the market to buy a home visit HUD’s Web site at www.hud.gov for more information. Secretary Jackson has commented that the dramatic rise in single-family foreclosure starts is fueled in great part by the proliferation of subprime loan products, including hybrid ARMs. More than 2 million subprime ARMs are expected to reset to higher interest rates by the end of 2008, and many of those borrowers, unable to afford the higher payments, will be forced into foreclosure unless the industry takes immediate and aggressive action to provide alternatives. In September, FHA announced one such alternative. FHA Secure is one of our refinance options designed specifically for conventional and subprime borrowers who default on their mortgages solely because they can no longer afford the payments on their ARM loan after the interest resets to a higher rate. Through this very new program, over 800 FHA lenders are already using FHA Secure to rescue delinquent borrowers from the potential loss of their homes. Since September, more than 100,000 conventional borrowers have applied for FHA Secure refinance loans. On October 10th, HUD Secretary Alfonso Jackson and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson announced the HOPE NOW Alliance, an unprecedented alliance of the Nation’s largest mortgage servicers, housing counselors, and real estate investors, all committed to one common goal—to help as many homeowners as possible avoid foreclosure and retain homeownership. One of the goals of the HOPE NOW Alliance was to develop and fund a nationwide advertising campaign to encourage delinquent borrowers to seek help through the 888–995–HOPE network of HUD-approved housing counselors. The 888–995–HOPE line is up and running with 122 experienced counselors nationwide. Another 50 are currently being trained and more are being recruited. Throughout this year, HUD staff and senior officials nationwide have sponsored and participated in more than 125 homeownership retention events including fairs, targeted mailings, and joint task forces that reached a combined audience of 25,000. The Santa Ana Homeownership Center, in cooperation with the Southern California Congressional Representatives and HUD field offices have put together a series of seven town hall foreclosure summits to spread the word on foreclosure prevention. Participants besides HUD include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the IRS, local congressional representatives, and representatives from Wells Fargo and Countrywide, both of whom are major local mortgage providers in California and participants in the FHA Secure refinance program. Attended by over 1,000 participants, these meetings have also featured on-the-spot housing counseling with HUD-approved counselors from 1 or more of our 15 Southern California nonprofit agencies employing an estimated 125 certified counselors. In addition to these town hall meetings, the Santa Ana Homeownership Center VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 17 has attended several banking and Realtor conventions and meetings as part of our outreach effort to help publicize FHA Secure. The recent National Association of Realtors Convention in Las Vegas was attended by an estimated 5,000 Realtors who lined up at the FHA booth to obtain information on the work we do. As you can see, the Department has taken several steps to address foreclosures, but there is much work still to be done. Thank you for your time this morning, and I look forward to your questions. [The prepared statement of Mr. Bates can be found on page 99 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Next we will hear from Mr. Mike Krimminger, Chairman’s Special Advisor for Policy, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. STATEMENT OF MICHAEL H. KRIMMINGER, CHAIRMAN’S SPECIAL ADVISOR FOR POLICY, FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION Mr. KRIMMINGER. Good morning. Chairwoman WATERS. Good morning. Mr. KRIMMINGER. Chairwoman Waters, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of the FDIC. As you know, the rising level of foreclosures across America is of great concern to FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair. I would like to focus my oral remarks this morning on her plan for modifying the more troubling of these exotic mortgages known as 2/28 and 3/27 subprime hybrids, which are forcing many homeowners into default and foreclosure. As you know, poor lending standards and weak consumer protections are at the root of the problem. After a huge run-up in these 2- and 3-year adjustable rate loans that began after 2003, they now make up more than half of the $1.3 trillion in subprime mortgage loans outstanding. Now, some 1.5 million or more of these loans will reset by the end of 2008, and another 375,000 will reset in 2009. Without a doubt, we are just now getting into the thick of the problem. California’s exposure to subprime mortgages is especially significant. The large numbers of subprime hybrid ARM loans with approaching resets in California places many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of California borrowers at risk between now and December 2008. These borrowers had hoped to refinance their homes as prices rose to pay off the loans before reset and avoid crippling monthly payments. And let me point out one important fact: The lenders and investors also expected these borrowers to refinance the loans. No one expected them to pay the reset payments. Unfortunately, housing prices now are declining, closing off these options for many. California’s subprime mortgage problems also are spreading, affecting home builders, suppliers and others, resulting in layoffs, lower tax revenues, and higher foreclosure rates. We believe that all of this calls out for creative solutions to keep people in their homes by restructuring their loans on a long-term and sustainable basis. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 18 Now, some of the borrowers who have the 2/28 and 3/27 subprime loans will be able to refinance at better rates. Today, unfortunately, that is probably a fairly small number. Some others have been seriously delinquent, even at the starter rate, and even if their loans are modified there may be limited prospects for keeping their properties. Another group, however, has generally remained current. Chairman Bair’s proposal focuses on this last group. Her proposal is simple and effective, but often misunderstood. It is this: For owner-occupied homes where the borrower is making timely payments, but clearly cannot afford the reset payments, we think those loans should be converted to fixed rate loans at the starter rate. At a minimum, the starter rate should be continued for a long-term sustainable period of 5 years or more. This could keep hundreds of thousands of people in their homes and stabilize our mortgage markets. Chairman Bair is urging loan servicers to do this in a streamlined way. Renegotiating the terms of the loans, loan-by-loan, as some are doing, is costly and time-consuming. A standardized approach is urgently needed. We believe there is an emerging consensus among policymakers and servicers that this is the best way to start dealing with the subprime meltdown. For example, as you noted, Governor Schwarzenegger announced last week an agreement with four major subprime lenders to work with homeowners unable to afford escalating mortgage payments. In line with Chairman Bair’s proposal, the servicers agreed to maintain the initial lower interest rate for subprime borrowers who occupy the homes, have made their payments on time during the starter period, and have proved they cannot afford payments at the higher reset rates. We support this agreement and believe it will spur other servicers to adopt this approach and speed up the pace. We also would urge the homeowners who cannot afford their mortgages to please contact their lenders or servicers as soon as possible to look for a workout solution before the reset date. I underlined that, because I think that is a critical factor in making sure that there is a relationship and a conversation between the homeowners and their servicers. Now, to the critics who say such a large-scale approach is untested and unworkable, we say these and other loan servicers are already doing it successfully. Not only is it feasible, the servicers say that it is saving them time and money and keeping people in their homes. We think that just about anything beats foreclosure, which, as you noted very accurately, runs down neighborhoods and costs up to half of the initial loan amount. Chairwoman Waters, the FDIC is committed to working with you to find solutions to the growing mortgage crisis, not only here in California but for all of those subprime borrowers who are living the American dream, but in need of better deals so they can continue to do so. Thank you very much. [The prepared statement of Mr. Krimminger can be found on page 125 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 19 Next we will hear from Ms. Heather Peters, deputy secretary for business regulation, Department of Business, Transportation, and Housing, State of California. STATEMENT OF HEATHER PETERS, DEPUTY SECRETARY FOR BUSINESS REGULATION, DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS, TRANSPORTATION, AND HOUSING, STATE OF CALIFORNIA Ms. PETERS. Good morning, Chairwoman Waters, and members of the subcommittee. My name is Heather Peters, and I am the deputy secretary for both business regulation and for housing for the State of California. I am also the chair of Governor Schwarzenegger’s Interdepartmental Task Force on Non-Traditional Mortgages. We appreciate the interest of the subcommittee, and the interest of the chairwoman in bringing the subcommittee here to California to hear this very important testimony today, because by all measures we can agree that California has been disproportionately impacted by the crisis in the housing and mortgage foreclosure arena. I commend the subcommittee for putting together such a distinguished panel of witnesses today, and for recognizing the multi-dimensional challenge that we are facing here and realizing that there is no silver bullet. To make an impact here, we need the cooperation of Federal, State, and local authorities, we need the cooperation of private lenders, brokers, servicers, and investors, and we also need the cooperation of the public, the consumers, and the homeowners who are losing their homes and losing the American dream. Together we can come up with solutions to this most daunting crisis. I will skip over the statistics in my testimony, because we can all agree that the magnitude of the problem has reached epic proportions. Governor Schwarzenegger is a man of action, not a man of words, and he agrees that we need help. Early this year, in January, he appointed me to unify leadership of our various departments in business transportation and housing that have various responsibilities for regulating aspects of the mortgage industry. In March of this year, we put together a task force to make sure that we were putting our best and our brightest together and getting us on the same page and moving forward. The task force consists of the department heads from our Department of Financial Institutions, which regulates banks and credit unions, the Department of Corporations, which regulates non-depository lenders such as Countrywide, the Department of Real Estate, the Department of Real Estate Appraisers, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and CAL HFA. Very quickly we realized that regulation alone was not going to be able to solve this problem, and that there was a huge consumer component to this. So we added the leadership from State and consumer services agencies, Secretary Morin, as well as the Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs. We have all been working together very closely all year on this issue, and the subcommittee has asked us to address the factors that contributed to the crisis as well as what the State is doing about it. There are numerous factors. The first is the lack of affordability of housing in California, which has been a problem for us for many VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 20 decades. According to the Building Industry Association, only 12.6 percent of the housing in California is affordable to income earners in the median income range; that is versus 42 percent nationwide. It has been a massive problem here. This year we have passed, and the Governor has signed, AB–929, which increases the amount of affordable housing in California by raising the total debt the California Housing Finance Agency can carry by $2 billion. Additionally, the Housing Community Development Department is working diligently to implement the $2.85 billion housing bond that was passed by the voters in California last year, which is estimated to generate over 118,000 new affordable housing opportunities and rental opportunities. However, we cannot do this alone, and we need your help. The Governor has written to the leadership of both the House and the Senate, and he has urged increases in both the FHA and the GSE loan limits. Currently, the FHA loan limit is $362,790, and the GSE loan limit is $417,000. The median cost of a home in California is well over $500,000, reaching toward $600,000. Clearly, these programs are not relevant in California anymore. Unfortunately, the FHA loan volume in California has dropped from 109,000-plus loans to a mere 2,599 loans in the entire State of California. Now, that is a decrease, a loss of $13.6 billion in funding through FHA. Reform is crucial, and clearly the lack of safe, affordable financing through these programs in California has been a contributing factor to homeowners being forced to go through non-traditional financing. Chairwoman WATERS. I need you to wrap it up. Ms. PETERS. Additionally, we have passed regulations that are some of the strongest in the Nation, assuring that underwriting standards make sure that people can afford the loans they are getting into. We have a brand-new disclosure form in five languages that illustrates to the consumer very early in the process what the worst-case payment could be if all the resets adjust to their worstcase scenario. We have made appraisal fraud a crime. We have had the agreement referred to by the FDIC with the lenders that is a nationwide leader and is being picked up by the Federal authorities. And we work closely with them and applaud their efforts. We applaud the chairwoman for her leadership and reform in this area. And yesterday the Governor was in Riverside to announce a $1.2 million public outreach campaign. He will personally be involved in PSAs to reach out to homeowners to ask them to call the Hope Hotline, to call their lenders, that there is help available. But, unfortunately, more than half of the people who lose their homes to foreclosure never contacted their lender. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Ms. PETERS. Thank you. Chairwoman WATERS. Next, we will hear from Mr. Pastor Herrera, Director, Department of Consumer Affairs, Los Angeles County. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 21 STATEMENT OF PASTOR HERRERA, DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS, LOS ANGELES COUNTY Mr. HERRERA. Good morning. I am Pastor Herrera, Jr., the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs. And let me echo my congratulations to you, Congresswoman Waters, for really taking the initiative and leadership in this area. It is an issue that is on everyone’s radar screen, whether it is here in California, in Washington, north or south of this country, and definitely we see that there is no end in sight. Here in L.A. County, we know that approximately 5,000 notices of default are filed monthly, and that to me is staggering. That indicates that there is definitely a problem here in Los Angeles County, and it is probably reflective not only in California but throughout the country. I hope that my comments this morning will assist the subcommittee to develop some additional recommendations, and from a Department of Consumer Affairs perspective, an agency that deals with consumers day in and day out, a more consumer-friendly business practices, not only in this area but other areas that impact consumers. I will summarize my comments today; my written comments have been submitted. The Department of Consumer Affairs here in Los Angeles County is very unique. It is, of course, supported and funded by the Board of Supervisors, and we are very proud of that, because unfortunately many, many communities do not have a Department of Consumer Affairs, which is their first point of contact when they may be victims of consumer fraud. We are very fortunate that we have a unit, a program, that is, the Real Estate Fraud and Information Program, which I will get into momentarily. But we also have an Identify Theft Unit, a Consumer Fraud Unit, an Elder Fraud Prevention and Education Unit, Small Claims Court, and also a Volunteer and Internship Program. And we serve over 750,000 consumers a year. Our Real Estate Fraud and Information Program does assist consumers and homeowners, particularly in the area of real estate fraud and information. It serves and helps them in areas such as foreclosure prevention, review and recorded documents, buying a home, reviewing refinance loan documents, and assisting first-time buyers. The Department also, and this unit in particular, accepts complaints for investigations and mediations. We receive complaints against foreclosure consultants, predatory lending, fraudulent recorded deeds, and refinance transactions. Last fiscal year, for example, our real estate unit assisted over 29,000 consumers with real estate fraud issues. Approximately 650 of those 29,000 of those homeowners needed assistance with a foreclosure problem. That was an increase over last year of 33 percent. Last year, the Department handled on a case-by-case basis 100 homeowners who were facing a foreclosure problem, and our Department was able to stay, delay, or cancel a property from being sold in a foreclosure sale. The Department’s success rate was approximately 65 of those cases. Unfortunately, it was not 100 percent. Some of the other things that we do as far as prevention, we work very closely with the media, which is a very good outlet. In VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 22 fact, 50 percent of our referrals to our Department come from the media. We also work with prosecutory agencies when we deal with a foreclosure consultant. We deal with legal services, nonprofits, and do a very, very good job here in Los Angeles County. We do speaking engagements, participate in community forums, and our Web site is also very, very definitely in tune with this issue. We have information on foreclosure, predatory lending, evictions, and we also have an opportunity for consumers to ask questions. Interesting enough, the inquiries for real estate-related questions have increased by 85 percent. And that represents an increase of 85 percent; 35 percent were in the area of foreclosures. Chairwoman WATERS. Could you wrap up your testimony, Mr. Herrera? Mr. HERRERA. Very good. Of course, the challenges are funding, the challenges are how do we get homeowners to get information and seek counseling. And, of course, the other issue is financial institutions. They need to identify a point of contact in their organization, so that we can negotiate and resolve foreclosure type of issues. And, of course, we need to reach out to homeowners. Very quickly, some of the recommendations, pooling and servicing agreements limit sometimes the servicer’s ability to engage in loss mitigation strategies. Other recommendations are in my written testimony. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you, and we will have all of your testimony in the record— Mr. HERRERA. Thank you very much. Chairwoman WATERS. —for review by all of the members. [The prepared statement of Mr. Herrera can be found on page 121 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Mr. Rogan, director, Department of Housing and Community Development, the City of Oakland, California. STATEMENT OF SEAN ROGAN, DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, CITY OF OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA Mr. ROGAN. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and subcommittee members. On behalf of Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and the City of Oakland, I am happy to be here today to give testimony and speak to some potential solutions as we look forward to solving this foreclosure crisis. The City of Oakland has been greatly affected by foreclosures brought on in large part by the subprime lending practices. Record numbers of foreclosures are occurring weekly. Over 345 notices of default have been recorded in the month of October alone. East Oakland, made up predominantly of people of color and of low income, is currently experiencing a 14.9 percent foreclosure rate. Lenders and investors have been unwilling to discuss workout options with borrowers. This is greatly impacting families and neighborhoods as foreclosure activity continues to grow. And additional consequence includes lenders foreclosing on rental properties and locking out tenants in good rent standing and with legitimate rental agreements. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 23 Immediate action is needed to curb the number of foreclosures and assist families who were given loans with terms that they either did not understand or did not qualify for. Actions that the City of Oakland would like to see implemented include the following: Extend time notices of default from 90 days to 150 days; extend time period for notice of trustee sales from 30 days to 60 days to allow more time for counseling and workouts; provide additional funding for counseling agencies to help work with borrowers facing foreclosures; and work with lenders and investors on rate and terms of mortgages, so that borrowers in good standing with pending interest rate hikes can continue mortgage payments at lower rates for up to 3 years. Additionally, future legislation should be written so that qualifying borrowers should be based on documented income and at a highest adjusted rate during the loan term, provide clear disclosure of any balloon payments or interest rate adjustments, and strengthen anti-predatory lending legislation. Interestingly enough, Oakland at one time had adopted anti-predatory lending legislation, which was then overturned by the State. And we certainly question where we would be today if some of that legislation had in fact been implemented. Additionally, lenders and investors need to partner—and this has certainly been echoed throughout this testimony this morning—but the lenders and investors, in particular the Wall Street investors, need to partner with the local, State, and Federal Government to set guidelines and regulations so that borrowers and lenders and servicers know how to accomplish the workouts. And then, finally, as I was driving here this morning in the wonderful L.A. traffic, and I was speaking with a colleague of mine, he brought up an issue which really hasn’t been discussed today, and I think it is important for the Members of Congress here today to hear. You know, an impact that affects these borrowers who have been foreclosed on is depending on the difference between what the bank collects and what their mortgage is, they end up with an IRS price tag in some instances $30-, $50-, to $100,000 that then gets stated as income. I certainly believe that with the folks here today that is an additional point that should be taken under consideration. Again, I thank you for your time today, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you. I would like to thank all of our panelists for being here today, and we are going to start with our question period where our members will each be afforded 5 minutes to ask questions. I will begin. I would like to focus first on Mr. Mike Krimminger’s recommendation, because I like what I hear. I don’t know what took place in a meeting I think that was held yesterday on this very subject, but I am very, very interested in the idea that instead of trying to solve this problem one loan at a time that we can come up with a policy that would allow the servicers to automatically extend the reset period. Is that what you said? Mr. KRIMMINGER. Yes. What Chairman Bair has recommended is to extend the starter rate period. Her preference was clearly, if the borrower can make—has been making payments at the starter VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 24 rate, but cannot make the payments at the reset rate, extend the starter rate, for the life of the loan preferably, but certainly for a long-term period. Chairwoman WATERS. For the life of the loan? Mr. KRIMMINGER. Certainly for a long-term sustainable period that will give the borrower an opportunity to do the normal refinancing. Five-plus years might be an appropriate period to do that. Chairwoman WATERS. That is very significant. That is very significant, because the folks who got in the ARMs and the adjustable rate mortgages received teaser rates, and those teaser rates were something they could afford. But then, when they reset and they quadruple, then they certainly cannot afford, and particularly if you are on a fixed income. Or even if you are working a regular job, your cost of living increases just don’t increase that fast, and you are certainly going to lose that house. But if this is a recommendation that the reset be extended for a long period of time, or for the life of the loan, I really do think that is an absolute viable way by which to save these homes from foreclosure. I would like to say to Mr. Young, I appreciate your recommendation on CDBG. CDBG is those funds that we give to our local governments to help out in so many ways with poor people and working people and programs. And we are working hard to extend it. I heard your recommendation about the use of CDBG to be of assistance in counseling and education, and we will certainly take that into consideration. Mr. YOUNG. Madam Chairwoman? Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Mr. YOUNG. If I may, and the reason why I recommended CDBG initially, because at this point in time local agencies, local municipalities, that is really their only funding that they have at their disposal right now. And that is what we are doing at the City of San Diego, but we certainly do appreciate the opportunity to get additional monies to do that home financing. Chairwoman WATERS. Well, we know that we have $200 million in conference that we are trying to get, but let us find out from our representative here, from Governor Schwarzenegger’s efforts, she mentioned that there would be some funding perhaps, about $1.2 million, that would be used to help in this situation. Where does that money come from? When will it be in process? And who will have access to it? Ms. PETERS. Great question. Thank you for asking. There are actually two sources of funding coming out of the State currently. Several months ago—I believe it was back in September, speaking of CDBG—our Housing Community Development Department issued a notice that $1.16 million in CDBG money that is flowing through the State, not directly from the Federal Government, would be made available for consumer counseling. Additionally, we put out an advisory quite along the lines that the councilman has already suggested, that some of the areas that receive funding directly from the Federal Government may likewise be able to reallocate some of the funds they have on hand. And our Department is happy to work with any local governments on how we can maximize the access to that. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 25 The second source of funding that I mentioned in my testimony was just announced yesterday by Governor Schwarzenegger. This is a $1.2 million campaign that is a public awareness campaign to get homeowners to call for help. And people are absolutely terrified. We have heard horror stories of homeowners who believe that they can be arrested for failing to pay their mortgage. Chairwoman WATERS. So basically this is for public service announcements, for advertising. Ms. PETERS. Right. And that is coming from our existing budgets within my departments at BT&H, and we are putting together a proposal today— Chairwoman WATERS. That is great. Ms. PETERS. —to expedite availability. Chairwoman WATERS. While we are talking about that, could you explain to us the agreements that the Governor made to Countrywide, for example? Ms. PETERS. Yes. Chairwoman WATERS. What is it he asked them to do, and what have they agreed to do? Ms. PETERS. Thank you for asking. The Governor announced with—an agreement with four of the major loan servicers—Countrywide, GMAC, HomeEq, and Litton Loan Servicing—which together nationwide represent 25 percent of the subprime loans. They have agreed to reach out proactively to borrowers well before the loans reset. We are talking several months, maybe 6 months before the loans reset, to let them know that the reset is coming. They have agreed to streamline the process by which they determine whether the borrowers can afford that reset payment as the chairwoman mentioned, and, if they are unable to afford it, to fix the initial rate for a sustainable period of time. Now, there is more discussion to be— Chairwoman WATERS. So basically— Ms. PETERS. —had on the details of this. Chairwoman WATERS. —basically what you are saying is early notice the reset is coming, and after you do that notice the homeowner will have an opportunity to get a workout and try and do a rearrangement of that loan. And did these four major subprime lenders agree that they would be involved in the kind of proposal that we just heard that would have to extend the low rate that they got in with? Ms. PETERS. Yes. Chairwoman WATERS. Will they— Ms. PETERS. That is exactly what they have already agreed to. Chairwoman WATERS. Is this in writing somewhere? Ms. PETERS. It is on the Department of Corporations’ Web site, which is— Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Good. Ms. PETERS. —corp.ca.gov. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you. Ms. PETERS. Additionally— Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Ms. PETERS. —there is an important element to that, which is accountability, because we hear a lot from consumer servicers, con- VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 26 sumer counselors, that they talk the talk, but they are not walking the walk. The Department of Corporations will be releasing within this coming month the results of a survey of the lenders that quantifies exactly how many of these workouts they are doing, so that we can follow up. And if consumers are not receiving the help that the lenders have agreed to do, we want to hear about it, and we want them to call us. Chairwoman WATERS. That is exactly what we are going to do, and we thank you for that. And, FHA, since in the bill that I introduced—and we got passed—we were very concerned about being able to use FHA to refinance. We are very proud about that possibility. Now, what is this Hope program that you are talking about? And what does it do? Mr. BATES. Well, the HOPE NOW Alliance is a grouping of the large lenders, Freddie and Fannie, four of the national intermediary counseling agencies, and others, to kind of develop a measured and appropriate response to the subprime problems. And the— Chairwoman WATERS. I want to know specifically, because we want Fannie and Freddie really involved in this solution, but I have not heard anything specific about what they are going to do. Mr. YOUNG. Well, the first thing is, of course, they have the hotline, and they have the housing counseling agencies in place. Chairwoman WATERS. So they have a hotline and people can call and say, ‘‘I am in trouble.’’ And then, what are they going to do? Mr. YOUNG. And then, they are working on trying to establish a standard for workouts or loss mitigation measures that would be taken in response to people’s difficulties. Chairwoman WATERS. Did you hear Mr. Krimminger’s proposal? Mr. YOUNG. Yes, I did. Chairwoman WATERS. Can they adopt that? Mr. YOUNG. I don’t know whether they can adopt that. Chairwoman WATERS. They can dispute that. Mr. YOUNG. But I would be happy to get with the Chair on that. Chairwoman WATERS. Would you get a copy of that proposal, since we are all here and working together? We have FHA, we have FDIC. You are talking to some of the same subprime lenders. Everybody should get on one track on this. There is no reason why we should have a Hope program that is talking about convening and getting them together. But, rather, you know, we should all do—and it should be substantial. We talk about a sustainable period of time. I like the idea of just converting that into a permanent long-term, 30-year, 40year loan so that we can make sure we can afford it. So you all get together. We will be following up with you to see if we can get everybody on the same track. Thank you all very much. This panel is dismissed. Excuse me. Before you go, you are not dismissed. We have questions from the other members. We have several other panels that we are going to do, but our members get a chance to ask you all questions today. Let us start with Mr. Green. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 27 Mr. GREEN. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. As is usually the case, when the Chair finishes, there is not much left to be said. But I do want to make a couple of comments and make a couple of inquiries. Mr. Krimminger, I greatly appreciate your comments, but I do want to just remind you that, when you indicated no one expected the buyers to pay the adjusted rates, some of these lenders did. And let me explain why. Many of them had prepayment penalties that coincided with the teaser rate, which means that you are either going to pay a lot of money to avoid the adjusted rate or you are going to end up paying—with a prepayment penalty or you are going to pay the adjusted rate. Now, look, I appreciate what you have said. I just want to point that out—that not all of them were acting with the same amount of good faith as many of them were. Yes, sir. Mr. KRIMMINGER. I would just say that we have certainly noted that there are prepayment penalties on some of the adjustable rate mortgages. In fact, many of the 2/28s and 3/27s do have prepayment penalties. Chairwoman WATERS. Please talk right into the microphone. This is very important. This is about prepayment penalties. Mr. GREEN. And speak quickly, please, because my time is running. Mr. KRIMMINGER. I will be very brief. We have certainly noted that many of the 3/27 and 2/28 mortgages have prepayment penalties. Chairwoman WATERS. Can you hear him in the back? Okay. Bring it closer, and don’t be shy. Speak up. Mr. KRIMMINGER. We have noted that many of the 2/28 and 3/ 27 mortgages do have prepayment penalties. Most expire just before the reset period, but we have certainly been very critical of some loans that do have prepayment penalties that extend out until just before the reset date. Mr. GREEN. Let me intercede quickly and say this. When you said ‘‘just before,’’ define ‘‘just before,’’ because usually that is about a month or two before, which doesn’t give the person enough time—the buyer who is acting in good faith—to secure the kind of loan in the environment that we have now that will protect the buyer. Mr. KRIMMINGER. And we fully agree with you. Mr. GREEN. Okay. Mr. KRIMMINGER. We think that is far too short of a period of time. Chairman Bair has advocated that if you are going to have a prepayment penalty at all—and we would prefer not in the subprime market—then it certainly should expire 180 days before. Mr. GREEN. Okay. Now, after we go through the 3/27s, the 2/28s, the prepayment penalties, the no-doc loans, the yield spread premium—yield spread premium, for those who don’t know, that is the kickback that the originator gets for getting a person to take a loan that is higher in interest rate than they qualified for. Now, some people may not know this, but that kickback is legitimate, but we are working on that. The Chair is going to help us with that. But once you go through all of these things and steering into higher interest rates than people deserve, what it boils down to is VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 28 people were qualified for teaser rates, and they were not qualified for the adjusted rates. And if that is the cause of the problem, and we have now about $600 billion at risk, we are talking about millions, possibly $2.5 million adjustable mortgages that are going to reset by the end of 2008. I don’t see how we can possibly manage the problem on a caseby-case basis. It really defies logic to think that we can do this on a case-by-case basis. It does. So now, if it defies logic to do it on a case-by-case basis, we have to find a way to transform Hope Now into Help Now. Really, that is what we have to do. And, Mr. Bates, no disrespect to you, I think you have articulated what is happening quite clearly. But what has to happen is what the chairwoman has suggested. We have to find a way for the lenders to acquire something called enlightened self-interest. Enlightened self-interest. And sometimes people have to be pushed to that point. On other occasions, they can acquire it by some sort of revelation. But, clearly, enlightened self-interest would dictate that they not let these properties go into foreclosure, and that a teaser rate is much better than no rate at all. And that is what we have—you have to take that message back, if you would, to the folk who can help us out and make a distinction between Hope Now and Help Now, or Help is on the Way because we are at a point now where help has to arrive. And, Madam Chairwoman, I thank you for allowing me the time, and I will yield back, given that we have so many members. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Congresswoman Grace Napolitano? Ms. NAPOLITANO. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and I sit here with great interest. Since I don’t sit on the subcommittee, a lot of it just goes over my head in terms of terminology, but let me tell you the result is the same. What I hear is a lot of talk about things we need to do, things we are going to be doing, but what is being done? Because this is not just something that happened yesterday, it has been happening for several years, and yet we are still not at a place, as you say, that we can turn around and say to our constituency, ‘‘Okay. Here is where you can go. Call my office, call the City Council, call’’—have you engaged the media, anybody? Have you talked to being able to have them be the purveyors of information to get people to know where the heck they have to go for assistance? You talk about CDBG. Does that need any legislative approval to be able to channel those funds? Or can it be done without having to go through the process of legislative approval? Then, we have Mr. Bates, and, again, you talk about tips, you talk about a Web site. Who the heck knows where to go? What if they don’t have a computer? What about if they—you know, you talk about HOPE NOW, and I will submit some questions for the record, Madam Chairwoman, because I— Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Ms. NAPOLITANO. —my time is short, and I have a lot of things I want to get out. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 29 The HOPE NOW, how many people are aware? You said that there were the tips. The Chair has not seen them, I have not seen them. At least we should be able to have this Financial Services Subcommittee know where it is, so we can impart that to our constituency, so they know where to go and how to access those services. But lo and behold, and I know you have a constraint funding issue, but please use what you have at hand—the media, the net, the public access channels, the Council of Governments, the COGs, all of those need to be partners in getting the word out to the constituents, because if we lose, they lose. If the subcommittee loses, the COGs lose. So unless we work together, all of it in tandem, then we are all just spinning our wheels separately. Financial servicers—have they been informed of some of those programs you are talking about? Because the Chair here says, ‘‘I didn’t know that.’’ So somehow there is a disconnect within our own agencies to Members of Congress in the subcommittee. That is another one. Credit unions—what role can they play? Because they have at the local level a very strong sense of community, and they will help their own. But are we allowed—again, do we have to go through legislative approval to allow them to be able to help their local folks? I don’t know. I am running out of breath here. Have all of you brought the financial institutions together and asked, ‘‘When are you starting? Where are you starting? And how can we channel our folks, so they can get help through you?’’ I mean, we talk great, and, I am sorry, the wheels of government move very slowly. But we need to move faster than that, and be able to put things on the table now, yesterday, not tomorrow, not next month, not next week, but now. That is something that is just missing in what I hear. Everybody has great ideas, and certainly since I don’t sit on the subcommittee, I am grateful to be able to find out a lot. My area is devastated. I have three of my members working in real estate. I hear it from them, and I hear in my office people calling in and, ‘‘Where do I go from here? What can I do to save my home?’’ But have we made an intense effort to be able to tell people, ‘‘Don’t wait until your date is set before you go for help?’’ I have heard it in Washington, I have heard it in our circles, but I don’t hear the people—how many of you—just give me a show, how many of you knew that? Anybody who is out there, how many of you actually knew that you could call your financial institution and ask for help prior to your reset date? There you go. They don’t answer the phone. So how do we get the people who need to have the information ahead of the game? The lack of knowledge of where to go, institutions unwilling or unable to institute these expansion of the mortgage. Many are— about 5 or 6 years ago I held a predatory lending forum, and I was very concerned because in some areas there is that—was that practice very prevalent, and it was taking advantage of people who didn’t know any better. So we brought it out, and we started putting it into the general area to allow people to vent. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 30 And I asked one of the lenders, ‘‘Why don’t you go to a 30-year mortgage?’’ He said, ‘‘Oh, no, there is no difference between a 20or 25- to 30-year mortgage.’’ I replied, ‘‘I beg your pardon, because that amount of money can help send somebody to school, to college. That amount of money can help somebody be able to move forward in education, and purchase, or a business,’’ whatever. But they didn’t want to do it. So have we changed that mindset of the lending institutions to expand those mortgages so people cannot lose their home, and then we don’t have that impact at the local level of buildings that are going to the dogs. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you. Ms. NAPOLITANO. Thank you very much, and I would like to submit questions for the record, Madam Chairwoman. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Congresswoman Richardson, for questions? Ms. RICHARDSON. Yes, thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Ms. Peters, you spoke pretty boldly of saying our Governor is a man of action. Well, I am not too impressed with the movies and the machine guns and all of that, so I hope that some of what is being said today will in fact be translated to action. We heard Mr. Rogan here from the City of Oakland give some specific request, and I was wondering if you could take to our Governor, the man of action, asking him to do two of these points, and they were quite simple. Number one, to extend the time notices of default from 90 days to 150 days, and the second request was to extend the time period for notice of trustee sales from 30 to 60 days to allow for more time for counseling and workouts. So as our Governor is negotiating these private side agreements—and I could give you a whole dissertation on what I think about some of the private side agreements that have been done in the past—but as he formulates these with the lending institutions, if you could request that these two items be included as well. Ms. PETERS. I will take that back to him, yes. Ms. RICHARDSON. Thank you. My second comment is for Mr. Bates. I was quite alarmed when I read Ms. Peters’ testimony that said that the access to FHA loans have decreased to such the amount that she stated. In fact, she said that they have dropped from 109,000 to just 2,600, which represents in California a 98 percent decline. Do you know that to be true? Mr. BATES. With some caveats about the exact numbers, yes, essentially that is true as it pertains to forward mortgages, which is what we are talking about here. We do a fairly decent business in California on reverse mortgages, which are the home equity conversion mortgages which seniors can use to get equity out of their property. But in terms of forward—now we have to adopt the term ‘‘forward mortgages,’’ the standard mortgages people think of to buy a house or to refinance a house, yes, we have had a vast falloff. Ms. RICHARDSON. And why is that? Mr. BATES. Well, when it began in 2003, when I first started noticing it, I could attribute it almost entirely to the loss of refinance business. But then, it just kept going and going and going. And in VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 31 conversations with our counterparts, part of it would be, well, FHA hasn’t kept up with the market in terms of having flexibility. Some of its requirements were dated and not important anymore, and the mortgage limit issue. And so what happened I think is, as we became less and less a part of a lender’s business, there might have been a tipping point to where they just didn’t go to the trouble of doing any FHA business, even if there were many borrowers who still could get an FHA mortgage, even in California. Ms. RICHARDSON. Are there any discussions to change that? Mr. BATES. Well, I think Chairwoman Waters has been very assiduous in pursuing FHA modernization, which is a big part of what the Administration I think is advancing, and I think is something that would be essential to bringing FHA back as a viable alternative in California, high-cost States like California. Ms. RICHARDSON. Well, my request would be that you would take the message back that this hearing—we completely support the chairwoman of this subcommittee in requesting FHA to take a second look at their role in the marketplace. When you talk about a 98 percent decline, from the time that I have had an opportunity to become a homeowner, clearly when FHA was more involved with the average borrower, we didn’t see some of these creative financing and some of these other issues. FHA I think took a greater responsibility to ensure that people were getting the right loans, and, if problems occurred, were I think better prepared to assist those borrowers as well. So clearly there has to be a better commitment to get back into this marketplace, because I think that you can assist in bringing the stability that our borrowers need. So that would be the message I would like to see brought back, that from this hearing the chairwoman has our complete support in asking for that change to occur. Mr. BATES. Thank you. Ms. RICHARDSON. Thank you. I yield back my time. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Let me just say, if I may, for a moment, the whole idea of revitalizing FHA was to get it back in the business, Ms. Richardson. And what I really do believe happened is the financial institutions, the loan initiators, with the subprime market just forced them out of the market, because they came along with all of these exotic products. And basically what they said is, ‘‘You can get in with this teaser rate.’’ They were not vetting these qualifications to make sure people could afford them. They had no-doc loans, no-documentation loans. FHA couldn’t compete with a financial institution or a loan initiator that was saying, ‘‘We will give you a loan without documenting your income.’’ They couldn’t compete with these teaser rates that would reset within, you know, 6 months or 2 years or so. So we are revitalizing FHA. We passed that bill out of committee off the floor, and I just don’t know what is happening on the Senate side. Where is my bill? We understand they are working on it. I am told that they have hotlined it. It may not be the same version. Staff, let us get up to date with what is happening on the Senate side with our bill. That is extremely important. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 32 Yes, sir. Mr. KRIMMINGER. Chairwoman Waters, I would just like to make one note that I would be derelict in not noting. Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Mr. KRIMMINGER. For the benefit of the subcommittee, as well as members of the public, in responding to Congressman Green’s questions about the prepayment penalties, I think one important thing to look at in terms of Chairman Bair’s proposal for real modifications on a streamlined basis is that the prepayment penalty provision would not apply to the loan modifications. It does apply when you are talking about refinancing, but it would not apply to the loan modifications because you are not doing a prepayment of the loan. So I think that is an important thing to keep into consideration. Chairwoman WATERS. Oh, very important. Mr. KRIMMINGER. I think that is very important for the public to know as well, which is, again, I would re-urge, in response to your comments as well, Congresswoman, for the people to reach out to their servicers. I think that it is critical for them to do that in advance, so that something can be done before the reset, because obviously if they can’t make the payments after reset, there are going to be dire consequences to their credit history and to other obligations they may have. Chairwoman WATERS. All right. We are going to move on. Our constituents would reach out, if they thought it was going to do any good. Most people just don’t believe the bank is going to be kind, that they are going to do anything for them, and I have not seen the same people who are initiating the loans doing the outreach to tell them to call. I am watching the ads every day, and I am going to ask some of our financial institutions about them. They are saying, ‘‘Come on, we want to give you a loan.’’ They are saying some of the same things they said that got us in trouble before, and I don’t get it. So if they would spend some money advertising that they want people to call, so that before these loans reset, then people will feel a lot more comfortable in calling that telephone line that never answers. Okay? Thank you very much. All right. We will move on now to—Ms. Watson, thank you very much for being here today, and I know this is an issue you are very concerned about. You have 5 minutes for questioning. Ms. WATSON. Thank you so very much, and I want to thank the chairwoman for calling this hearing. I cannot think of anything we could do during this period of time, but all come together—at the local level, State level, and Federal level—to look into the fraud that has been perpetrated on this Nation through subprime and other gimmicks. And I want to say this—mine is more a statement than a question because I do have to go on—but I pledge to work together with all of those who represent the public to do something from the top. What we haven’t focused on is that these are gimmicks that come out of the financial institutions, and they change all the time. Someone sits in the back room and figures out how they can make a bigger profit and give back to their shareholders. So what we are doing is running after the caboose. We are trying to solve indi- VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 33 vidual problems. We will never be able to do that. We have a whole list—and I am sure the chairwoman has it—of community agencies, that this hearing is to mitigate the loss in L.A. County, California. I want to go one step above that and into the Federal Government. I believe that the State ought to hold a conference and set up a commission that will look at all of the lending institutions. And we need to have some ground rules to prevent these kind of products from being perpetrated on those who are seeking the American dream. So I would propose that, because if there are a million people in this room, a million people have a different problem with how they are going to save their homes. And so what we have to do is go higher, and in the Federal Government we need to look at—we have all of these different agencies that intend to help homeowners avoid foreclosures. But we can be doing this year after year after year. Let us set some standards for the State of California, City of Los Angeles, the county included, and some Federal standards, that control the kinds of products that are offered to those who are seeking to buy property and to have their homes for a lifetime if they wish. So what I want to do is say to all of you presenters and to this panel, and the one that comes up after ours, I would like you to come together and look at ways the State of California can set up regulations for the kinds of financing of homes that come out of their various institutions. Then, I am going to ask the chairwoman to call us together where we can talk about some Federal guidelines that will cover all kinds of financial institutions that do home loans and that introduce products that really are perpetrated to make a profit and not necessarily there to keep people in their homes. And I want to say this in closing, that the American dream has to be supported by those who represent you. And if it is a real dream, it will become a reality. And the banks don’t want your homes. What are they going to do? They want to sell them off, but they certainly are calling in your loans. You can’t pay those increased payments. So we really need to deal with this at the top, we need to speak loudly and clearly to the institutions that finance these loans and tell them, ‘‘We will not tolerate the fraud that has been perpetrated on those seeking to own homes and sustain their homes.’’ So with that, Madam Chairwoman, thank you so much for letting me sit with you these few minutes, and I am ready to join with all of us to protect not only our constituents but all people who seek the American dream. Thank you so very much. Chairwoman WATERS. You are welcome. Ms. WATSON. And what I would like to do is submit to you a proposal that we have to assist in the foreclosure. I will put it in writing and give it to you. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you. As you know, Congresswoman, we have H.R. 3915— Ms. WATSON. Right. Chairwoman WATERS. —that was introduced by our chairman and passed out of our committee. Did it pass on the floor? It passed on the floor. This is the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 34 Lending Act of 2007. You did support that. We had good support from our side of the aisle on this, and we took a lot of action in this bill on the Federal duty of care. And we have another title that set minimum standards for all mortgages. We have a signee securitizer liability, and on and on and on. The biggest fight with this bill was something called preemption, and this is always a big fight in Federal Government. Oftentimes, we will run into problems like the one that we have now on foreclosures. Some States have tougher laws than the Feds will ever have, because when you are dealing with the Feds, you are dealing with all of the States and all of the interest groups, all of the entities that are represented in Congress, and they come with different ideas. So we try to support the States when they have stronger laws, but I want you to know this is when the big boys roll out big time. They roll out big time with the money, with the lobbyists. Sometimes they hire two, three, four lobbyists to every individual who serves on the Financial Services Committee, and they back these efforts because what they would like to have are Federal laws that are basically minimum standards. They would like it to apply to everybody, and we are trying to preserve the right of States to be even tougher than the Federal Government would ever get. So it is an ongoing struggle and an ongoing fight that we have to engage in. Ms. WATSON. Yes. And in response, that is why I would address Ms. Peters that you go back and carry the message that California always is in the lead. We go above those standards, and I think it becomes an obligation for the State to protect its homeowners. And so, again, I want to thank you, and we know we are kind of concentrating on Los Angeles, but we are dealing with a problem that is so overwhelming it means the loss of the American dream. So I commend you for those efforts, and we will work together to have better regulations and better laws. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you so very much. Ms. PETERS. We have new regulations this year. We actually have new regulations this year in California that are some of the toughest in the Nation. Ms. WATSON. Yes. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. And we were waiting for Ms. Sanchez. I think she had to leave, and so now is the proper time to dismiss this panel. Thank you all very much for your participation. Thank you for responding today, and we anxiously await to see the results of Chairman Bair’s recommendations. We think that is an answer. Okay. With that, let me introduce our next panel as they come forward. Let me just say that the Chair notes that some members may have additional questions for this panel which they may wish to submit in writing. So without objection, the hearing record will remain open for 30 days for members to submit written questions to these witnesses, and to place their responses in the record. Thank you very much. Panel number two consists of: Mr. Sandor Samuels, executive managing director of Countrywide Financial Corporation; Ms. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 35 Michaela Albon, senior vice president and general counsel, Home Loans Division, Washington Mutual; Mr. Brad Blackwell, executive vice president, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage; Mr. Tom Deutsch, deputy executive director, American Securitization Forum; Ms. Anna Thomas, a homeowner in San Pedro, California; Ms. Karen Lee, a homeowner in Los Angeles, California; and Mr. Paul Leonard, California office director, Center for Responsible Lending. Without objection, your written statements will be made part of the record. I will recognize each of you for 5 minutes. We are going to try and keep each of you to your 5-minute presentation. We would ask you to summarize and submit for the record, so that we can move on with all four of our panels today. And we are going to ask our members to keep their questions to 5 minutes, so that we can complete this in a timely fashion. I would like to welcome all of you who are serving on panel two, and we will start with Mr. Sandor Samuels, the executive managing director of Countrywide Financial Corporation. STATEMENT OF SANDOR SAMUELS, EXECUTIVE MANAGING DIRECTOR, COUNTRYWIDE FINANCIAL CORPORATION Mr. SAMUELS. Thank you, Chairwoman Waters. In addition to my position at Countrywide, I also serve as the chairman of the board— Chairwoman WATERS. Let me see if I can get a little bit of— Mr. SAMUELS. Okay. Chairwoman WATERS. —attention for you here. Some people are moving out, some people are moving in, and it is creating quite a bit of conversation. So if you will just hold your conversation to a minimum and quiet down, so that we can hear our panelists, I would appreciate it. For those of you who are standing back in the doorway on the side walls, we do have plenty of seats. Please feel free to occupy any of them. Thank you. We will start again with you, Mr. Samuels. Mr. SAMUELS. Okay. Thank you, Chairwoman Waters. Chairwoman WATERS. You are welcome. Mr. SAMUELS. In addition to my position at Countrywide, I also serve as chairman of the board of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, and I am also on the board of the Los Angeles Urban League and the Housing Preservation Foundation. As you may know, I testified earlier this month before the full committee about the recent expansion of our foreclosure prevention efforts, a $16 billion home preservation program to assist as many as 82,000 Countrywide hybrid ARM customers facing unaffordable ARM resets, and about our ground-breaking partnership with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, or NACA, as well as with other consumer groups. Today I want to update you on our progress with those initiatives and provide additional information on our activities here in California. California borrowers represent about 17 percent of our almost 9 million customers. More than 64 percent of our California borrowers are located here in Southern California. As the largest group in our servicing portfolio, California borrowers will benefit VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 36 significantly from our home retention programs and will remain a major priority of our outreach efforts. Last week we endorsed the home retention principles announced by Governor Schwarzenegger. These principles are also consistent with those articulated by Treasury Secretary Paulson, FDIC Chairwoman Bair, OTS Director Reich, and other Federal banking regulators, calling for a systematic and scalable approach to home retention that is up to the challenges ahead. We believe that we are ready for these challenges and already can point to results that show loan modification activity is sharply increasing. Although the majority of our efforts will result from direct contact with our customers, nonprofit organizations are also critical to our efforts. On a national level, we recently entered into a groundbreaking partnership with NACA, as I mentioned. NACA has more than 30 offices around the country, including two very effective branches in California, one here in Los Angeles and one up north in Oakland. In just 5 weeks since the partnership was announced, more than 177 home save solutions have been completed or are in process. The NACA partnership is a model that allows us to leverage the unique capabilities of some of the best nonprofit counseling agencies on the ground in many of the communities we serve. Countrywide also is working with the L.A. Neighborhood Housing Services. We participate in the Foreclosure Solutions Task Force and support home preservation fairs like the one being held here as we speak. We are collaborating with Lori Gay and the LANHS to expand our relationship and strengthen our ability to help more borrowers preserve homeownership and avoid foreclosure throughout the L.A. area. I look forward to providing you and the subcommittee with additional details on this collaboration in the near future. Countrywide also has sponsored homeownership preservation seminars in 30 communities around the country, including events in Anaheim, Fresno, Oakland, Ventura, and earlier this month in support of the ACORN event here in Los Angeles at the St. Vincent School. We plan to significantly expand these efforts in 2008. Most importantly, Countrywide’s initiatives are producing results that help borrowers avoid foreclosure and preserve their homes. Congressman Green, we are providing help now. Through today, in 2007, Countrywide has helped over 55,000 borrowers stay in their homes through loan modifications, repayment plans, and other home retention solutions, and we have about 100,000 borrowers in some stage of a workout transaction. To give you some sense of how our more recent initiatives and partnerships are paying off, in October we completed 11,000 home retention transactions, workouts where the family stays in the home. That is more than twice our previous monthly high. And more than 9,000 of these, 82 percent, were loan modifications, meaning that they involved a change to a loan’s interest rate, principal balance, or maturity date, or a combination, designed to provide longterm affordable payments. By comparison, about 28 percent of our workouts in 2006 involved loan modifications. These trends reflect not only the changing nature of the market, and the causes of loan defaults, but also the efforts of servicers, investors, and regulators, with substantial help from this sub- VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 37 committee, to secure the needed clarifications of accounting standards and other barriers to ensure that loan modifications can be done whenever they present a better alternative to the mortgage holder than a foreclosure. In short, unlike what you may have read in the press, loan modifications have become a primary tool for keeping borrowers in their homes. I have offered a lot of statistics in my comments, but I also want to offer you two assurances. First, we understand that this is a human problem, not simply a numbers problem. Second, Countrywide readily acknowledges that these are dynamic times, and we fully understand that additional initiatives may be needed as events unfold. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, for your leadership and for your continuing efforts to help borrowers sustain the dream of homeownership. [The prepared statement of Mr. Samuels can be found on page 142 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Ms. Albon, senior vice president and general counsel for Home Loans Division, Washington Mutual. STATEMENT OF MICHAELA ALBON, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL COUNSEL, HOME LOANS DIVISION, WASHINGTON MUTUAL Ms. ALBON. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and members of the subcommittee. My name is Michaela Albon, and I am senior vice president and general counsel of the Home Loans Division of Washington Mutual. I am pleased to be here today on behalf of WaMu to discuss our efforts in helping our borrowers find alternatives to foreclosure and the ways they can overcome financial obstacles to keep their homes. Clearly, the housing market is currently experiencing a sharp downturn. These events are painful for homeowners, lenders, investors, and our communities alike. This is especially true in markets such as California, which are coming off an extended period of rapid home price appreciation. Moreover, delinquencies and foreclosures are increasing as fewer borrowers are able to refinance or quick sale their way out of financial trouble. While California remains a key concern, as you have already noted, this is a national issue. Simply put, we view foreclosure as a last resort, and we work very hard to keep our customers in their homes and keep them as customers. We fully recognize that no party wins—in fact, all parties lose—if a lender is forced to foreclose. Our firm belief is that early intervention, as has been noted earlier today, combined with expanded options is instrumental to helping our customers avoid foreclosure. To that end, we are applying particular emphasis on reaching out to our adjustable rate mortgage customers at least 6 months prior to the first reset date through direct mail, dialing campaigns, and state messaging. Overall, we have sent almost 5 million pieces of outreach mail year-to-date and we will continue to work with our borrowers requesting assistance up until their reset dates and beyond. In April, we announced a $2 billion assistance program, which is focused on VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 38 helping our subprime customers who are current in their payments but who are feeling the effects of this challenging environment. We are reaching out to our customers and encouraging them to contact us if they are concerned about making their new mortgage payment as a result of a payment adjustment on an adjustable rate loan or for other reasons. Our offers of assistance include refinancing or modifying their mortgage into a fixed rate loan at a discounted interest rate. To date, we have refinanced or modified approximately $720 million in loans, and we expect this number to increase sharply in the coming months. For those borrowers who have already become delinquent and are in need of additional assistance, we are offering expanded forbearance and loan restructuring plans, including permanent reductions in rate, extended terms, and even partial forgiveness of debt. To the latter end, WaMu has publicly supported the initiative to reduce or eliminate the income tax on forgiven debt. WaMu maximizes the opportunities to meet with our customers by reaching out to them via mail, phone, and personally inviting them to attend homeownership preservation events, even to the extent of offering $100 gift cards if our customers will attend and talk to us about their loans. These homeownership preservation events are held throughout the United States, in the homeowners’ own communities, so borrowers may meet face-to-face with WaMu employees to work out a solution to keep them in their homes. WaMu recently participated in events held in Anaheim and Ventura, both of which were considered quite successful. With regard to the percentage of home loans currently in foreclosure, we do not publicly disclose this information, but we give borrowers every consideration as we work to assist them while making prudent lending decisions and adhering to investor and regulatory requirements. Despite the efforts of lenders and servicers to help borrowers avoid foreclosure, the industry does face challenges. It has already been noted today that the terms and the conditions of applicable pooling and servicing agreements, as well as tax law and accounting rules, determine the requirements regarding the loans we service on—to some extent the requirements regarding loans we service on behalf of securitizations and third party investors. Declining home values, subordination of junior liens, and securitized seconds are also impacting our ability to help some customers. Perhaps our biggest challenge, however, is simply reaching the borrowers who are most in need. If we can’t reach them directly or indirectly, such as through community organizations, we cannot help them. In addition to WaMu’s own efforts as a lender and servicer, we partner with local, regional, and national nonprofits to combine raising rates of borrower delinquency and default. We have found that these organizations can be very, very effective in reaching customers who may not feel comfortable contacting us directly. We are a member of the HOPE NOW Alliance that has been mentioned some this morning, and we recently participated in the HOPE NOW outreach efforts. And our employees, including myself, VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 39 are active participants in all of the working groups, including the groups responsible for expanding and funding counseling initiatives as well as advancing our ability to do more workouts and loan modifications. The final area I would like to briefly cover today is our industryleading measures we have taken to help borrowers through the ongoing origination process. In late September, WaMu co-sponsored a national conference on consumer education that was held at our training center in Seattle. In October, we introduced a requirement in our wholesale channel that we hope will soon become industry standard practice. Chairwoman WATERS. Could you wrap it up for us, please? Ms. ALBON. I am sorry? Chairwoman WATERS. Could you wrap up your presentation? Ms. ALBON. Yes. Basically, we have increased the disclosures that must be provided by brokers on loans that they broker to us, including more clear disclosure of their compensation. [The prepared statement of Ms. Albon can be found on page 94 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. We have to move on Mr. Blackwell, executive vice president, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. STATEMENT OF BRAD BLACKWELL, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, WELLS FARGO HOME MORTGAGE Mr. BLACKWELL. Chairwoman Waters, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the invitation to testify. I am Brad Blackwell, executive vice president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage’s National Sales Force. Chairwoman Waters, we commend your leadership on housing issues. Wells Fargo is proud to have spoken at numerous national forums of this nature, as we believe collaboration with you and other Members of Congress is critical. We, too, are concerned about foreclosures, particularly in parts of California where the market correction continues to depress housing prices. It is important to note that, culturally, Wells Fargo is committed to lifetime customer relationships. Our vision is to satisfy all of our customers’ financial needs, not just their mortgage needs, and to help them achieve financial success. This includes ensuring all customers have access to and can sustain homeownership. Working with organizations like Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services, Operation Hope, the West Angeles Community Development Corporation, and the East Los Angeles Community Corporation, we have introduced a number of innovations to help homeowners, including conducting seminars to help borrowers review loan documents and training local lawyers to give aid to people facing foreclosure. In your congressional district alone, Madam Chairwoman, Wells Fargo has contributed over $19 million toward low- and moderateincome housing investments. When faced with the tension that can naturally exist between doing what is right for the customer and generating a profit, responsible lenders do what is right for the customer. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 40 Unlike many in our industry, Wells Fargo chose not to offer negatively amortizing option ARM products. In 2006 alone, these loans generated close to 40 percent of the industry’s revenue. We know that having fair and responsible lending principles makes a difference. The subprime loans originated by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage have foreclosures half that of those not originated by our company. Our principles include focusing on the customer’s ability to repay, providing information to make fully informed decisions, making only those loans that provide a demonstrable benefit to the customer, and doing all we can to keep people in their homes by providing experts, tools, and services that help customers manage their credit. While we believe we have made good decisions that align with our responsible lending and servicing practices, like most others we did not predict the extreme confluence of market events currently affecting customers. So we have stepped up our efforts to find more ways to help at-risk customers. Wells Fargo has weathered the current subprime crisis well, relative to our competitors, because we respect that what is good for consumers and what is good for investors are inextricably linked. Selling mortgages into the secondary market makes homeownership possible for millions, including minority and low-income consumers, and we are careful to avoid practices that could limit responsible access to funding. To ensure the future health of the housing industry, it is very necessary to preserve liquidity and capital from the secondary market. We must find a good balance between upholding investor obligations and meeting consumer needs. Since the vast majority of subprime loans we service are held by investors, an ongoing industry dialogue organized by the American Securitization Forum has helped us develop solutions that take into account our secondary market obligations. Over the past few weeks, we have been working closely with Treasury Secretary Paulson, the Federal banking regulators, and the ASF on more systematic solutions, as you have been discussing earlier, for segments of subprime consumers who share similar credit characteristics. Now, HOPE NOW, which Wells Fargo was instrumental in creating, is another great example of how industry and government have come together in nationwide solutions. This alliance harnesses the strengths of mortgage servicers’ counselors to capital markets in the U.S. Government to help consumers get budget guidance. A critical component—and this was not discussed in the last panel—is encouraging customer contact, since it is the biggest obstacle we face in helping customers. HOPE NOW is already beginning to prove that when we come together and mobilize to help consumers we can have great impact. To gain further insights on the best ways to help more customers, we analyzed our 2007 subprime ARM servicing portfolio, considering the life of the loan and current market trends. About 3 percent of the 7.9 million real estate-backed loans Wells Fargo services are subprime ARMs that have or are expected to reset by the end of 2008. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 41 At this time, it appears we can find workable solutions for the vast majority, 80 to 88 percent. These customers will pay in full, they will refinance, manage the higher loan payment, or benefit from a workout solution. We either seek refinancing solutions or modify all loans for customers who can afford the modification and are willing to manage their mortgage payments. If a repayment or modification will not be successful for the customer, we turn to foreclosure avoidance options to protect the customer’s credit standing. As the Nation’s leading FHA lender, we appreciate Congresswoman Waters spearheading FHA reform in the House, as we believe this will provide yet another conduit for helping customers. Six months in advance of a reset, we contact borrowers. Chairwoman WATERS. Could you wrap it up for us, please? Mr. BLACKWELL. Thank you. I will. And by working—so we make sure we contact those borrowers to see what we can do to help them with the reset. By working together, our industry, government, capital markets, consumer groups, and not-for-profit counseling agents can help people stay in their homes, and it takes the effort of all of them. Together, we must get all customers facing difficulty to call their servicers or credit counselor, and we must explore refinancing, modification, and workout options. We are there for the help of our customers. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Mr. BLACKWELL. And we thank you very much for your time. [The prepared statement of Mr. Blackwell can be found on page 103 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Mr. Deutsch? STATEMENT OF TOM DEUTSCH, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN SECURITIZATION FORUM Mr. DEUTSCH. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. I am honored to be here on behalf of the American Securitization Forum, as well as the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. As indicated before, the ASF represents members, over 375 members, including all of the major servicers in the securitization marketplace, all of the major originators, as well as the institutional investors, to purchase these mortgage-backed securities as well. Our mission and goals can be succinctly summarized as: first, providing good market standards and practices in this area; second, advocating on behalf of our members; and, third, providing a good education as to how securitization works and the different incentives market participants have. Before I address the specifics of the securitization process, and some of the many initiatives that we are working on right now, I would like to make one fundamental observation about the current mortgage market. That is, no one—no one—benefits from foreclosures, not the mortgage servicers, nor pension funds, nor mutual funds or hedge funds who ultimately invest in these mortgagebacked securities benefit from foreclosures at all. It is often the costliest outcome for both the borrower as well as the investor in VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 42 those mortgage-backed securities. And let me just put a placeholder in there and come back to that towards the end of my testimony. Fundamentally, the process of securitization, though, allows originators of consumer and commercial credit to pool hundreds of like obligations and securities, which often generates stable and predictable cashflows for the investors in those mortgage-backed securities as borrowers pay their principal and interest payments. Recent developments in the current subprime residential mortgage place has generated a number of significant concerns, and have impacted both the borrowers in those mortgage-backed securities as well as all of the securitization market participants. Given these market conditions, servicers of the mortgage loans, whether they are held in portfolio by the different banks, or whether in securitization trust, have redoubled their efforts, as you have just heard by all of the testimony from some of the servicers here, to help borrowers avoid foreclosure and minimize the losses to the securitization investors. This is a very key point. The securitization investors are the ones who keep capital flowing into this marketplace. Refinancing is the number one option for many borrowers in these homes, not everyone, and let me speak to a couple of the general tenets that we have been discussing through numerous discussions both with various industry participants as well as the various Federal regulators and the Administration. For many of those who are coming up on their reset date, and they have generally been current in their introductory mortgage payments, and have built up some equity in their home, refinancing opportunities continue to exist and to be accessible to borrowers even in the current marketplace. But for some borrowers with significantly impaired credit, or little equity in their home, these refinancing opportunities may not be available, and this is an area where the servicers as well as the industry have taken particular note and focus, especially over the last few months. For borrowers who have been able to stay relatively current in their introductory rate—again, showing their ability and willingness to pay in that current introductory rate—servicers are and will continue to employ the full tool kit of loss mitigation options, including, but not limited to, loan modifications to try to help that borrower to stay in their home, again coming back to the point. For those leaving their home, whether it is through foreclosure or even short sales, it is often not the best outcome for anybody in the securitization process. So let me just talk a little bit about the securitization pooling and servicing agreements that have been discussed a little bit today and get to some of the recent industry developments. As many of you are aware, all of the securitizations are covered by pooling and servicing agreements that are effectively the contract, if you can think about it, between the servicer and the investor of the mortgage-backed securities, various provisions that allow servicers to do a wide range and open up the full tool kit of what servicers can do. Given current market conditions, the American Securitization Forum has taken particular note of that. And as far back as June of this year, we instituted a statement of principles, recommenda- VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 43 tions, and guidelines for the modification of securitized subprime residential mortgage. That is attached to my testimony as Exhibit A. This document concludes that loan modifications—and this was back in June—that are in default, for subprime loans that are in default or for which default is reasonably foreseeable, an important serving tool as part of the full servicing tool kit to often help borrowers avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes. I would also like to note that the development of the ASF statement was a first and important step towards industry collaboration and coordinated solutions. Since the ASF and SIFMA have also been pleased to be involved with the HOPE NOW Alliance that was formed on October 9, 2007, under the leadership of Treasury Secretary Paulson and HUD Secretary Jackson, this HOPE NOW coalition again brings all of the counselors, servicers, investors, and other mortgage market participants to maximize the outreach to borrowers and to help develop industry solutions. On that same day, we also released a statement allowing for the reimbursement of borrower counseling expenses to be viewed as servicing advances, effectively Help Now. That is, that servicers can deduct out of securitization trust cashflows many of the expenses that they reimburse for counseling expenses, something we spent a great deal of time working with both servicers and investors to develop this. Finally, I believe that brings me to the work that we are currently working on now with Federal policymakers, including the FIDC, FASB, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, and other Federal bank regulators to identify the loss mitigation obstacles and promote best servicer practices throughout the industry. Fundamentally, the ASF believes, and is continuing to pursue, streamlined methods of segmenting borrowers with various types of characteristics including loan-to-value ratios, credit scores, and, most importantly, payment history at the introductory rate. We believe that streamlining this approach by doing this very quickly, as servicers have been doing and working on over the last few months, will achieve very measurable outcomes and ultimately help even that many more borrowers stay in their homes. We are pursuing these efforts in great earnest, and hope to report out the progress of these efforts in the very near future. Madam Chairwoman, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, I thank you for the opportunity to participate in today’s hearing. The ASF and SIFMA stand by to assist you. [The prepared statement of Mr. Deutsch can be found on page 108 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much, Mr. Deutsch. Now we will hear from some homeowners. First, Ms. Anna Thomas, a homeowner from San Pedro, California. Thank you for being here. STATEMENT OF ANNA THOMAS, HOMEOWNER, SAN PEDRO, CA Ms. THOMAS. Thank you. Thank you. It is exactly a year ago that I got into a bad loan with Freemont Investment and Loan, almost to the day, and they did nothing to help negotiate or modify my loan. Over 6 months, I paid them $5,190.35 for my mortgage. I had VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 44 help to do that. I had family members in my home, and I was able to do it for 6 months. And it turned out, towards the sixth month, I realized my family members were not there any longer, they had to go back to New York, and I could not make those payments. Freemont Investment and Loan would do nothing to help me. I heard mentioned today that the consumers don’t know where to go, and I didn’t know where to go either. I got a book, this Consumer Action Handbook. I found the Department of Consumer Affairs, their Real Estate Fraud Unit, a lady, Dawnnesha Smith called me right away to see how they could help. They got on the phone with Freemont—now, I had been negotiating with them for over 6 months now. They would not take any partial payments. They wanted me to sell my home. Investigator Gutierrez spoke with them at length on one particular day. She called me at work and said, ‘‘I have been talking with them all day. I am sorry, they are not bending. You are going to—on the 16th of November, they will file foreclosure notice, and you are going to have to move out of your home. And as a matter of fact, within 72 hours you would have to vacate your home.’’ I was devastated at that news, and I felt the compassion in her voice. There was somebody that I was able to call. I don’t know what she said to them, but she called me back 15 minutes later and said, ‘‘Ms. Thomas, I am on a conference call with Freemont Investment and Loan, and this gentleman would like to speak with you.’’ So within a 15- to 20-minute period, I went from devastation to elation. He told me he would modify my loan at 6 percent. Would I be able to pay them a fee of $5,190.35? I said yes, I would. I didn’t have it then, 6 months ago. I don’t really have it now either, but my friends and relatives got that money together. I sent it in to them, my payment now is approximately $3,700. I asked if they could put that $5,000 maybe onto the loan, so that I would not have to pay that money on the 16th of November, and then go back on the 1st of December now with $3,700, but that is another hurdle that I will have to make. I am here—hopefully other consumers will get in touch with our agencies, especially the Consumer Affairs Department and the people who helped me—perhaps they, too, can save their homes. I am a survivor of this foreclosure crisis. I am happy to say that at this point. Going forward, I have learned a lot of things, and I would like to thank you for having this panel and hopefully preventing this from happening to other people. Thank you. Chairwoman WATERS. Well, you are so very welcome, and we thank you for being here. Ms. Karen Lee, also a homeowner, from Los Angeles. Thank you for being here today. STATEMENT OF KAREN LEE, HOMEOWNER, LOS ANGELES, CA Ms. LEE. Thank you. It is my pleasure to be here and share my story. I feel like I am one of the lucky ones, because I was not losing my home at the time I think I had—my health went down, so I had to quit work. My husband wasn’t in the greatest health either, and he was on the verge of retiring. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 45 So we discussed what we would do, since we knew we didn’t have a lot of money coming in, and we had refinanced before a couple of times for our children’s education. So we, therefore, did not even consider what would happen to us once we retired or if something drastic like my health going down the tubes would affect our lives. I had been getting a lot of literature through the mail about reverse financing. I didn’t understand it. There was a seminar that we attended, and we still didn’t give it a lot of thought. But then, as the time got nearer for my husband to retire, then I started thinking, well, gee whiz, I am ill, my house note was $1,300 a month, and maybe to some people that is not a lot of money, but for us raised in South Central Los Angeles, it was a lot of money. So I couldn’t imagine how, if something should happen to him, how I could get this money together if I should miss a payment or whatever. So we discussed it, and I am very pleased to say that we were happy with the decision that we made to go ahead on and do something about it before anything happened. So we went on and we applied. I have a new that is with the HUD Corporation, and he was instrumental in giving us advice and putting us with the right people to give us the right understanding, and now we can breathe easy and it is a good feeling. I appreciate you allowing me to come and share my success story. [The prepared statement of Ms. Lee can be found on page 141 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Well, thank you very much. Mr. Paul Leonard,California office director, Center for Responsible Lending. STATEMENT OF PAUL LEONARD, CALIFORNIA OFFICE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR RESPONSIBLE LENDING Mr. LEONARD. Madam Chairwoman, thank you and the other members of the subcommittee for coming out today. I can’t help but say the timing of this hearing couldn’t have been better given the landscape that we are facing now, the Governor’s intervention, the discussions that are happening in Washington around expanding the scale of modifications. It is critical. I am Paul Leonard, the director of the California office of the Center for Responsible Lending. We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy organization working to eliminate financial abuses in the marketplace. We work with a lot of other civil rights, labor, consumer groups. We work closely with the NAACP, and the National Council La Raza, at the national level as well as here in the State. We are also affiliated with Self-Help, which is a credit union, so we are a lender to people who have imperfect credit in North Carolina directly. And through a national lending program, we have bought some $5 billion and helped finance more than 41⁄2 million homeowners and small businesses. I would be remiss if I didn’t reiterate the fact that California really is the epicenter of the national foreclosure crisis. Last year we put out a report that projected there would be 2.2 million foreclosures as a result of subprime lending that occurred in 1998 and 2006. We estimated that close to 500,000 of those would be right VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 46 here in California, and some 45,000 here in L.A. County specifically. As others have mentioned, this is a problem that is disproportionately focused on minority communities and minority borrowers. Both African Americans and Latinos are much more likely than similarly-situated, similarly credit quality white borrowers to get high cost subprime loans and to experience foreclosures. You know, not too long ago the problem for homeownership lending used to be redlining, that minority folks couldn’t get a lender to say yes to a loan. Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung way too far to the other end where the saying in the industry is is that if you could fog a mirror, you could get a loan, and the whole issue is now not about whether you can get a loan but how much you are going to pay for it and what the terms of those loans are. And, unfortunately, far too many people got into loans that they fundamentally are not going to be able to repay, and that the lenders didn’t evaluate their ability to repay beyond the initial starter rate period and didn’t verify their income as to determine their ability to repay. The costs of this are staggering, not just for the borrowers, for whom it is a tragedy for them to lose their homes, but also for the neighbors, as several of the members mentioned. We have done some analysis. Here in L.A. County, we estimate that 3 million homeowners will experience price declines in their homes totalling some $31 billion as a result—specifically as a result of foreclosures that are happening to their neighbors. And as others have mentioned also, the problem is going to get worse. We are going to see a spike in subprime ARM borrowers who are facing resets for the first time over the next 12 to 18 months. Unfortunately, for the last 6 to 9 months, we have heard a lot of what I call ‘‘happy talk’’ from the lenders, promises of efforts to reach out, staff up their loss mitigation efforts, contact borrowers and offer a full range of loss mitigation tools, including loan modifications. Unfortunately, that rhetoric has often been hollow. Moody’s did a survey of the largest servicers in the country a couple of months ago, and they found that only 1 percent of borrowers at reset were getting modifications. And when we have scratched below the surface and looked at the types of modifications that are being provided, often they are of a very short-term nature, not the long-term affordability that Chairman Bair is seeking in her approach to loan modifications. Now, why isn’t this happening despite the obvious economic appeal and the point that Mr. Deutsch made that nobody really benefits from foreclosures? Well, we think there are a few reasons. One is that the financial incentives for the servicers may very well be mismatched with the incentives of the investors. There was a recent quote in an Inside Mortgage Finance from a Deutsche Bank official who said, ‘‘Just this week, servicers are generally disincented to do loan modifications because they don’t get paid for them, but they do get paid for foreclosures.’’ This official went on to indicate that it costs servicers between $750 and $1,000 to complete a loan modification. So we have to dig beneath the surface and really get into the guts of these operations to understand where the financial incentives are internally, even if VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 47 the outcomes of foreclosures are clearly worse off for investors and for borrowers. There are other issues. Clearly, the servicers haven’t had the capacity to deal with the wave of folks who are facing problems. There are potential lawsuits from investors that are tying the hands of how many modifications, at least that the lenders suggest that they can do. And, finally, there are some complicated incentives with many loans that have second mortgages, which make it difficult to offer these loan modifications. Well, what is needed to make this work? I think there really are three things. First of all, we wholeheartedly endorse the proposal put forward by Chairman Bair to essentially identify quickly and in a streamlined fashion those borrowers who are not going to be able, who are current and occupying their homes, current at the time of reset and aren’t going to be able to afford it. And let us just, as she said, get on with it, convert these loans to the starter rate for the life of the loan. I would also point out that we should expand the universe of those folks who are affected, because there are many people who have already passed their reset date and who have fallen behind on their loans but were current before, and they have fallen behind on their loans because they couldn’t afford this reset that they have already experienced. Those folks, too, should be included in the universe that we are looking for for this streamlined, simple modification process. The second thing that I think is really, really important is there has to be transparency about who is going to qualify for these streamlined modifications. I have talked to a lot of housing counselors and borrowers who you have already heard today have trouble finding the right person, have trouble knowing what their clients are eligible for in terms of a loan workout, and so we have to make it simpler and easier to understand for borrowers and for the lenders alike. And perhaps most importantly, we need regular reporting of data, because right now—Madam Chairwoman, you know, you were intimately involved in the effort to get—expand the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, which has shed a light on and provided a real democratization of data around home lending practices. We need similar data collection right now for the servicing activities, so that we can know and measure the lenders up to the standards that they have set for themselves, that if they are providing the long-term affordable loan modifications that they are talking to, they will make this data—readily make this data available for you and me and everybody else to see, so that we can know that people’s homes aren’t being lost. Two final points that I think are important to sort of level the playing field to help current borrowers. One is Ms. Sanchez’s proposal for bankruptcy reform. It is a critical, critical component, because right now, as she said, the first home mortgage is the only asset that a bankruptcy judge can’t rework the terms of their loan. Second home, vacation home, a nice yacht, or an RV, even credit card debt, all can be restructured in a bankruptcy process. First home mortgages isn’t one of those items. And if we don’t do that— VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 48 if we do that, we are actually giving the borrowers a whole lot more leverage in their ability to negotiate with their lenders today. The one final point I want to say is requiring mandatory loss mitigation activities on behalf of the lenders, establishing some requirements as are required by FHA today that would require lenders to reach out and document their loss mitigation efforts before they came move to foreclosure we think would be a strong Federal policy that should be adopted. Thank you very much, and I am happy to answer your questions. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very, very much. Thank you very much. Again, I would like to thank all of the panelists for their testimony. It was indeed tremendously informative, and we have a few questions to raise of our panelists. Let me just say to the lending institutions who are here today that I know oftentimes you don’t feel comfortable coming to these kinds of hearings, and particularly when it is chaired by Maxine Waters. You think you are going to get beaten up. And we don’t want to do that. We want to make you feel as comfortable as we possibly can, but we have to ask you some tough questions. The first question I would like to ask is something you alluded to, Ms. Albon. Can each of you tell me how many foreclosures are in your portfolios? Let me start with Countrywide. What is the total amount of foreclosures that you are working with at Countrywide? How many foreclosures have you had? Mr. SAMUELS. Could you start with someone else? Let me just review— Chairwoman WATERS. All right. We will start with WaMu. Ms. ALBON. Yes. We do not publicly disclose that data, so I— Chairwoman WATERS. I am sorry. Would you please give her the microphone? Ms. ALBON. We do not publicly disclose that data, so I do not have it with me today. Chairwoman WATERS. All right. I know that you said that. I just wanted to get it into the record, because we have to talk about what we do about that. What about Wells Fargo? Mr. BLACKWELL. Wells Fargo’s foreclosures currently represent .66 percent of our portfolio. Chairwoman WATERS. What is that— Mr. BLACKWELL. That was as of the end of the third quarter. Chairwoman WATERS. What is that in raw numbers? Mr. BLACKWELL. I am sorry. I don’t know that number. Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Mr. BLACKWELL. We have— Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Mr. BLACKWELL. —roughly 7.9 million loans in our portfolio. Chairwoman WATERS. All right. Mr. SAMUELS. Ours is .89 percent of our portfolio of almost 9 million. Chairwoman WATERS. Almost 9 million? Mr. SAMUELS. Yes. Chairwoman WATERS. All right. For Wells Fargo, do you have— do you own other companies that initiate loans for you? Any VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 49 other—do you own any other banking or mortgage companies that do loan initiation for you? Mr. BLACKWELL. Thank you, Chairwoman Waters. I think I understand the question. Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Mr. BLACKWELL. Do we own any separate companies, not under the— Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Mr. BLACKWELL. —Wells Fargo umbrella— Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Mr. BLACKWELL. —that originate mortgages? Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Mr. BLACKWELL. The answer to that is no. We do originate loans under the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage name, and under the Wells Fargo Financial name. Both are wholly-owned subsidiaries. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is actually a unit of Wells Fargo, and Wells Fargo Financial is a wholly-owned subsidiary. Chairwoman WATERS. Are all of your loans initiated by loan officers that work in these entities? Mr. BLACKWELL. If you mean are all of our loans originated as in the loan officer takes the loan application— Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Mr. BLACKWELL. —the answer to that is no. We have—and our primary origination source is retail, in which loan officers take the loan applications. But we also have a wholesale unit which originates loans through mortgage brokers who can deliver loans to us. And we have a correspondent unit that buys loans from mortgage bankers, and those three units all do mortgages for Wells Fargo. Chairwoman WATERS. What percentage of your loans, your subprime loans, are originated by mortgage brokers? Mr. BLACKWELL. I am sorry. I don’t have that information. I can tell you that more than half of our loans were originated through our retail channels, but I do not have the percentage of loans that were done through our wholesale channels. Chairwoman WATERS. What about you, WaMu? Ms. ALBON. We also do business through licensed brokers, and a large percentage of our subprime loans that we currently service were originated through mortgage brokers, and then some were purchased from sellers. Chairwoman WATERS. What percentage again? Ms. ALBON. I don’t have that number on me, but I can go back and get that information. Chairwoman WATERS. Can either of you tell me—can you trace whether or not your foreclosures are more tied to or related to the loans that were initiated by your banking operation or by the operations of the mortgage brokers and the mortgage bankers, others that were initiating for you? Ms. ALBON. We would internally have that data. Chairwoman WATERS. Well, I know you would have it internally, but can you tell me? Ms. ALBON. I do not have it with me right now. Chairwoman WATERS. But is this something that you can publicly disclose? Ms. ALBON. I will go back and check on that. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 50 Chairwoman WATERS. Yes, sir. Mr. BLACKWELL. I apologize. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I do know that the performance of our portfolio originated directly by our loan officers is better than that originated by mortgage brokers that delivered in to us. Chairwoman WATERS. At any point in time leading up to this crisis, did you know and understand that? Mr. BLACKWELL. I do not have the answer to that personally. Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Let me just move on to Mr. Deutsch. Mr. Deutsch, did you say what I heard Mr. Leonard say? Was it true that you said that the servicers don’t get paid for doing the workouts on foreclosures? Mr. DEUTSCH. I am sorry. As much as I would like to have the resources of Deutsche Bank, I think that is who he was referring to, not Tom Deutsch. Mr. LEONARD. That is correct. Chairwoman WATERS. Oh, okay. Mr. LEONARD. It was a Deutsche Bank official that— Chairwoman WATERS. Oh, okay. Mr. LEONARD. —I was quoting. Chairwoman WATERS. All right. I am sorry. Mr. LEONARD. Not Mr. Deutsch. Chairwoman WATERS. I just saw Deutsch there, and— Mr. LEONARD. You have seen one Deutsch, you have seen them all I think. Chairwoman WATERS. That is right. That is right. So but since you are an expert in this area, is this a problem? Mr. DEUTSCH. Could you repeat the question? Chairwoman WATERS. The question is, because you understand and know you are the forum, and you have under your umbrella all of these servicers, have you heard or have you learned that they do not get paid for doing workouts? That it is too costly, it is too time-consuming, that it is not—you don’t have any incentives for doing these kinds of modifications or workouts. Have you heard that said before? Mr. DEUTSCH. I have heard that said before, and personally having, for better or for worse, drafted many of these pooling and servicing agreements, quite familiar with many of the provisions that are applicable, I guess I would respond I guess with two notes. Is that, first, the servicer does have an incentive to continue servicing and not foreclose or create some sort of short sale arrangement, because they are continuing to receive a servicing fee for servicing that loan ongoing. So if they were to—to say that they are not paid to actually do a loan modification misses the point that they will continue to receive a servicing fee for servicing that loan going forward. Secondly, is that they— Chairwoman WATERS. No, no, we understand that. Mr. DEUTSCH. Sure. Chairwoman WATERS. We understand that if they continue to service the loan they are going to get paid. So that is the incentive for wanting to service rather than—well, you said it. If you do the workout, and it stays on the books, then you do get paid for it. So what point were you making, Mr. Leonard? VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 51 Mr. LEONARD. I was simply sort of reiterating this comment from my friends at Deutsche Bank as opposed to Mr. Deutsch that— Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Mr. LEONARD. —that, in fact—that from this person’s perspective that the incentives were not necessarily aligned and moving in the direction of making sure that the servicers were going to be striving for to deliver modifications rather than foreclosures. And combined with the risk of investor lawsuits and other complications, the default may very well still be easier to do—to accept a foreclosure, have the loan off the books, than it is to go through the effort of doing a workout. Chairwoman WATERS. Mr. Deutsch, are you guys worried about liability? Is there something that needs to be done to relieve you of that concern of liability based on the contracts that you have with the investors? Mr. DEUTSCH. Absolutely, liability has been raised as an issue, and I would respond with two notes, is that servicers have indicated a concern if they do too few loan modifications that investors and mortgage-backed securities could sue them for that, but they have also noted—servicers—in the same breath that if they do not enough loan modifications that investors could also sue them for not doing enough loan modifications, because they haven’t modified to an extent that would maximize the net present value of the trust. Chairwoman WATERS. They could be. Do you know of any servicers who have been sued? Mr. DEUTSCH. I am not personally aware of lawsuits that have been filed. Most of those would be private litigation that I— Chairwoman WATERS. But in a forum where you are looking to make sure that you strengthen the industry and protect your investors and do the work that they—you would know whether or not there was a rash of— Mr. DEUTSCH. Certainly, there has been, as far as I am aware, no rash of suits as of yet. But I would note that it is—there is always litigation risk. Absolutely. But that is— Chairwoman WATERS. In life. Mr. DEUTSCH. —life in the capital markets. Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Mr. DEUTSCH. Servicers, when they sign up for these agreements, they do have to take those risks, the risks associated with— Chairwoman WATERS. Have you made available—maybe my staff would know—a copy of these kinds of service agreements that are worked out between the investors and the servicers? Have you seen these kinds of agreements? Mr. LEONARD. My colleagues have reviewed these pooling—a sampling of these pooling and servicing agreements, as well as many other Wall Street firms that have reviewed them and— Mr. DEUTSCH. Ms. Waters, I might note you can go to the sec.gov Web site, and within that Web site is a filing of all pooling and servicing agreements on publicly-issued securities, so you can look at any particular issue through that Web site. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you. And I would instruct my staff to do that. We are going to gather those and take a look at them and see what you are talking about. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 52 One last thing. You mentioned that in these workouts that we are still trying to find, you know, all of these workouts that have been done. Mr. DEUTSCH. Sure. Chairwoman WATERS. But one of the things you look at is whether or not there is impaired credit. Mr. DEUTSCH. Correct. Chairwoman WATERS. Now, don’t forget these are workouts that are being done by people who have already been extended credit. Mr. DEUTSCH. Correct. Chairwoman WATERS. They got into a teaser loan. Mr. DEUTSCH. Correct. Chairwoman WATERS. So did the credit become bad after they gave them the loan, or when did they have such bad credit that they can’t do a workout to remedy the risk that they are now involved in? Mr. DEUTSCH. Sure. I might distinct out between credit and payment on their mortgage payment. I think it— Chairwoman WATERS. Well, they have been in this for 6 months. Mr. DEUTSCH. Okay. Chairwoman WATERS. They got a teaser rate. Mr. DEUTSCH. Okay. Chairwoman WATERS. They are in for 6 months. It is going to reset. Are you saying the credit went bad in 6 months? Mr. DEUTSCH. No. What we would—what we are proposing, and through I think all of the different proposals that you have heard, both from Chairman Bair as well as others, is that if they are current in their introductory rate, and their credit hasn’t taken a significant or drastic slide, that they would be eligible for either refinancing when they come up upon their reset, or that upon that reset they would receive a loan modification. Chairwoman WATERS. So you do support Chairman Bair’s recommendation to freeze the ARMs at the starter rate? Mr. DEUTSCH. I think there is a lot of nuances associated with that statement. Chairwoman WATERS. Well, just the general idea. Do you support that? Mr. DEUTSCH. As a general idea, the American Securitization Forum has come out in our statement in June noting that loan modifications are extremely important and should be done on a loan-by-loan basis. But let me quality that. By streamlining the process of evaluating the borrower characteristics—and there is many different metrics that can be done to make that a very efficient and fast process, and I think over the—in the very near future you will see the industry working hand in hand with the Federal regulators— Chairwoman WATERS. Well, let me just say that we are way past 101 Loan Modifications. It is too slow, it is too time-consuming, the consumers are not getting the information, we don’t see the kind of outreach that we are hearing about today. Chairman Bair has a proposal to say, ‘‘Let us do it in a significant way. Let us just come up with an agreement that we are going to freeze these ARMs at a starter rate.’’ You are telling me you are not prepared to say you support that today? VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 53 Mr. DEUTSCH. I think one could— Chairwoman WATERS. Yes or no. Mr. DEUTSCH. One— Chairwoman WATERS. I want to be nice. Mr. DEUTSCH. I agree. I think the statements that Chairman Bair has made have indicated on a specific basis that loan-by-loan analysis, even under her proposal, still needs to be done on a loanby-loan basis, but that systematic criteria can be used. I think they are the exact same approach, but different nuances in the words have made them seem as if they are different approaches. Chairwoman WATERS. Well, I would hope that at some point in time our subcommittee, and perhaps our entire committee, is going to make it very clear where we stand on the idea, and we are not going to nuance it. We are going to want some real action. I know I have taken a lot of time here, but you are extremely important to solving this problem. And I have been wanting for us to get to you guys to see what you were doing, what you were initiating. I am concerned about the liability issue, and I am concerned about any other obstacles to doing these workouts that would freeze these ARMs. And so we have a lot of work to do, as I can see, but you could be very helpful in helping us to understand how best to do it, and supporting a real proposal by which to get it done. Now, having said that, I am going to wrap up, so that my colleagues can get their questions in. How many of you in your outreach, not your national town hall meetings, but you know—Countrywide, for example, you hold most of your paper, is that right? Mr. SAMUELS. Yes. Chairwoman WATERS. So you are doing your own servicing, is that right? Mr. SAMUELS. Yes, ma’am. Chairwoman WATERS. So your people are sending out the notices every month? Mr. SAMUELS. We are not only sending out notices, but we are also calling. Chairwoman WATERS. When the notice goes out, for whatever reason, on that loan, what is your organized systematic way of making sure that everybody is getting an invitation, either notifying them that— Mr. SAMUELS. Right. Chairwoman WATERS. —the loan is going to reset— Mr. SAMUELS. Right. Chairwoman WATERS. —or that they are in trouble already and come in and they can get a modification consideration? Mr. SAMUELS. As I mentioned, we have several notices that go out—180 days, 90 days, 45 days—before the reset. And we do several things on the notice. We say, ‘‘If the interest rates at the date of the reset are what they are today, this is what your payment would be.’’ So somebody could see, compare what their existing payment is, to the payment reset. And we say, ‘‘If you have an issue with what is going—you know, with this reset, please call us, please call the Housing Preservation Foundation, NeighborWorks,’’ you know, one of those organizations. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 54 And we also call—we also call these borrowers, because sometimes when an envelope comes, as you know, we get a lot of junk mail. When an envelope comes, sometimes people may not pay attention to it. So in order to try to make sure that people are aware of the coming reset, we also make phone calls. Chairwoman WATERS. You made an arrangement with a nonprofit organization to help you to do what? Mr. SAMUELS. Yes. That is—well, we have a number of arrangements, but the one that I think you are referring to is— Chairwoman WATERS. NACA? Mr. SAMUELS. Yes, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. Chairwoman WATERS. What is that arrangement? Mr. SAMUELS. The arrangement that we have there is where people come to NACA. What NACA does is they do counseling. Chairwoman WATERS. How do they get to NACA? Mr. SAMUELS. They get to NACA a variety of ways. they—well, we are actually doing some advertising, are going to be doing some advertising. Chairwoman WATERS. How much money have you put into paid ads? Mr. SAMUELS. To paid— Chairwoman WATERS. On television. You know, the same kind of ads where you say, ‘‘Come to Countrywide and get this loan.’’ Mr. SAMUELS. Right. Chairwoman WATERS. How many of those have you done that say, ‘‘Come to Countrywide and get this loan modification?’’ Mr. SAMUELS. We haven’t done any of that yet. Chairwoman WATERS. Well, that is what I thought. And not only have you not done any, but you are still spending money on ads to say, ‘‘Come and get this loan,’’ and you are still doing direct mailings. And those mailings look like some of the same mailings that went out prior to this crisis that has created this problem. I don’t get it. Mr. SAMUELS. Well, Congresswoman, we are still—we still want to make loans to people who can qualify for loans, and we think that that is still important. Chairwoman WATERS. No. We want you to do that. Mr. SAMUELS. Yes. Chairwoman WATERS. Except we don’t want you to do it the same way that you have done it. It was described here earlier that we were at a time and point, in minority communities in particular, where we were redlined. And we worked awfully hard—awfully hard—to open up these doors. Now we are being accused of not being appreciative, that we opened up the doors and you allowed us to get all of these loans, and it is not your fault that we are defaulting. However, everybody has to take some blame in this, and certainly the initiators have to take some blame in this, because what you did was you extended exotic products to people who thought they were able to realize the American dream and get a loan. They didn’t understand these exotic loans and these teaser rates and these interest only and these no-doc loans. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 55 And what I think I see is you are still advertising and soliciting on these exotic products. Mr. SAMUELS. No, we are not doing that. That is not—we are not doing that anymore, no. Chairwoman WATERS. What are you doing in your solicitations that is different? Mr. SAMUELS. Well, we are not doing—we are not doing 2/28s and 3/27s anymore. So these products—our subprime, you know, we are—our subprime products have been very, very significantly reduced from what they were. But I want to— Chairwoman WATERS. Do you have a way that you can document how many modifications you have done? Mr. SAMUELS. Yes. In fact, I have—I think we have been— Chairwoman WATERS. Is it public information? Mr. SAMUELS. Yes, absolutely. And we have been very—I think of all the lenders, we have been very, very forthcoming in terms of how many we have done. And it is in our written testimony, and I have also mentioned it in— Chairwoman WATERS. So you have made 18 million phone calls. Mr. SAMUELS. Yes. Chairwoman WATERS. And you have done what with 30,000? Did you do workouts? Did you do successful workouts? Mr. SAMUELS. We did 50— Chairwoman WATERS. Did you talk with 30,000 people? What did you do? Mr. SAMUELS. We have done—since the beginning of the year, we have done 55,000 workouts, meaning people stay in their homes. It is not—we do not include— Chairwoman WATERS. Does your workout include a modification? Mr. SAMUELS. Yes. Of the— Chairwoman WATERS. All of these have been— Mr. SAMUELS. No, not all of them have been modifications. There are other— Chairwoman WATERS. So you talked with some people— Mr. SAMUELS. But there are other kinds of workouts that are— Chairwoman WATERS. Yes, there are. There are a lot of them. There are some that result in modifications and some that don’t. Mr. SAMUELS. Yes. And in October— Chairwoman WATERS. How many modifications have come out of this 18 million phone calls? Mr. SAMUELS. Well, I will tell you, in October we have done 11,000 workouts, and 9,000 of those 11,000 were modifications. Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. All right. I said I wasn’t going to get too tough with you guys, but, you know— Mr. SAMUELS. And we are prepared to be very open with the— you know, our figures as to— Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Mr. SAMUELS. —what we are doing in terms of our— Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Mr. SAMUELS. —workout transactions. Chairwoman WATERS. I do appreciate that. This is such a serious problem. Mr. SAMUELS. Yes. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 56 Chairwoman WATERS. And so many homeowners are at risk. We recognize and appreciate that the industry is in business to make money. We don’t deny that, and that is okay. But we cannot be in a situation where we find that people have gotten involved over these exotic products and these loans, and they are going to lose the homes. Everybody tells us it is not in the investor’s best interest. Everybody tells us it is not in the lending institution’s best interest. Mr. SAMUELS. That is correct. Chairwoman WATERS. Then, why don’t we just fix it. Mr. SAMUELS. We are trying. Chairwoman WATERS. Why don’t we— Mr. SAMUELS. Yes. Chairwoman WATERS. —do something that is significant. For example, I bet you, Countrywide, you spend millions of dollars on ads on television. Put some of the money into soliciting people to come back to you and get these workouts. Think about it. You don’t have to answer me, but just think about it. With that, let me just move on. I can’t ask another question. Congressman Green, they belong to you. Mr. GREEN. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Does everyone agree that there were some lenders who took advantage of borrowers? If you agree that there were some, would you raise your hand, please, so that we can have you on record? Okay. Some lenders who took advantage of borrowers. All right. Now, if you did not raise your hand then, raise your hand now. That way we will—so everybody agrees. I ask this because when you ask a person to go back to the person that took advantage of you, sometimes it is difficult to negotiate that when you are saying, ‘‘Come back to me, and I am going to help you now.’’ Well, maybe you are, and maybe you aren’t, is what happens in the minds of many people. And I am not saying that you—do not personalize it. I am trying to give some notion of why people are not rushing back to the place where they perceive that they got into trouble. Why would you run back to trouble? People just don’t do that. Let us examine a couple of things. Is it better to allow the borrower who can afford the teaser rate, but who cannot afford the adjusted rate, to maintain the loan with a teaser rate? If you think it is better to allow the borrower who can afford the teaser rate, meaning he or she can continue to pay that rate, but they cannot afford to pay the adjusted rate, to let that borrower keep that teaser rate and stay in that home. Is it better to do that? Is that the better thing to do? If you think it is, raise your hand, please. Okay. Everybody seems to agree. Now, if you think that is the better thing to do—and I don’t want to just pick on one person, but Mr. Deutsch, why did you have such difficulty with the chairwoman’s question? Because that is in essence what she is asking. Why can’t you simply allow borrowers who can afford the teaser rate, but cannot afford the adjusted rate, to keep the adjusted rate? Mr. DEUTSCH. We absolutely agree with your statement. The issue is determining whether or not they can afford the reset rate or not, and that is not an easy thing to do. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 57 Mr. GREEN. Can I give you one example of how you can find out whether they can afford it? Mr. DEUTSCH. Sure. Mr. GREEN. They go into foreclosure. That is a pretty good indication. Mr. DEUTSCH. Absolutely. Mr. GREEN. People don’t want to lose their homes. So at the point that they start to go into foreclosure, because what we want to do now is get to people before they get there, but clearly when they get there that is pretty good evidence that they can’t afford it. So why not, at that point, at least suggest that, ‘‘Let me let you keep this teaser rate and keep this home.’’ Mr. DEUTSCH. I guess the answer is if you don’t do any kind of determination whether they can afford it or not, you go back to a characterization of a categorical loan modification, that everyone would get a loan modification— Mr. GREEN. I understand. Mr. DEUTSCH. —across the board. Mr. GREEN. I understand. But, look, let us assume now that you have done your due diligence. After due diligence, are you saying then that you would do this? This has— Mr. DEUTSCH. Absolutely. Mr. GREEN. After due diligence. Mr. DEUTSCH. Absolutely. Mr. GREEN. Okay. Now, let us examine the statement that no one benefits from foreclosures. The real question is, who really loses in foreclosures? Because we keep saying no one benefits, and that seems to give some air of comfort to certain institutions. But the question is, who benefits? You are familiar with PMI, correct, sir? Mr. DEUTSCH. Correct. Mr. GREEN. And you are familiar with MIP. Mr. DEUTSCH. MIP mortgage? Oh, correct. Mr. GREEN. Okay. Do you agree that MIP and PMI are designed to help the lender become whole in the event of a foreclosure? Mr. DEUTSCH. I am not sure I could make a firm— Mr. GREEN. Wait a minute. Hold on. Let us examine that now. Why does one acquire PMI? What is the purpose of it? Mr. DEUTSCH. One is to provide additional insurance to— Mr. GREEN. And what does that insurance do? Mr. DEUTSCH. It guarantees that to a certain extent some of the equity associated with that hump. Mr. GREEN. And who does it guarantee benefit? Mr. DEUTSCH. The guarantee ultimately would benefit the mortgage investor. Mr. GREEN. Would that be the lender, the investors? Mr. DEUTSCH. The institutional investors. Mr. GREEN. Okay. So if they have the benefit of PMI, do you agree that they are not going to be the big losers in this process? Because that is what PMI does. It helps them to avoid losing money. That is what MIP does. So when we continue to say, ‘‘No one really benefits,’’ we really are overlooking the fact that there are some who are not going to be the big losers. The big losers are the borrowers. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 58 The lenders get the benefit of MIP and PMI. The borrowers do not. Isn’t that true? Mr. DEUTSCH. Well, they do benefit, but they don’t benefit to the full extent of the principal amount. Mr. GREEN. Well, let us examine that statement. Doesn’t that depend on where you are in the loan process, in your repayment process? Mr. DEUTSCH. I think— Mr. GREEN. For example, if you didn’t—if you put down 10 percent, and you have a certain amount of equity in the property, when the lender forecloses, you get to sell the property, you get the benefit of PMI/MIP. So you do get pretty close to being whole in terms of your principal when you add those two together, if you have some equity in the property. Mr. DEUTSCH. I think the definition of ‘‘some equity’’ might be a concern there, because PMI oftentimes only covers, say, 10 percent of the equity. Mr. GREEN. Okay. Mr. DEUTSCH. Loss severities oftentimes on a foreclosed home will reach 60 percent, 40 percent. Mr. GREEN. Okay. All right. Then, let us take it this way. This will be my final question in this area, one more thing. Do you agree that the borrower walks away with zero while the lender or the investor walks away with something? Mr. DEUTSCH. They can walk—the lender does walk away with the principal, but it is usually somewhere in the range of, like I said, something along the 60 percent of the principal that may have extended to that borrower. Mr. GREEN. And to some extent, as was indicated by the gentleman—what is your name, sir? I am sorry. I can’t see it. Mr. LEONARD. Mr. Leonard. Chairwoman WATERS. Mr. Leonard. Mr. GREEN. Okay. Mr. Leonard, there are some conflicts in this process that will cause one element of the process to conclude that it is not to my advantage to foreclose right now, whereas another might conclude it is to my advantage to foreclose right now. Is this true? Mr. DEUTSCH. Again, there are—you would have to provide additional details and color. Again, it is very difficult to make a determination— Mr. GREEN. Okay. Mr. DEUTSCH. —on all of the different borrowers. Mr. GREEN. Let us go to one more real fast. The credit rating agencies—do you agree that there may be some conflict of interest as it relates to credit rating agencies in that they are paid by—who are they paid by? You tell me. Mr. DEUTSCH. Credit rating agencies are often paid by the issuers of the mortgage-backed securities. Mr. GREEN. Okay. And who are they rating? Mr. DEUTSCH. They are often rating the issuance of those mortgage-backed securities. Mr. GREEN. Is that the same person who is paying them? Mr. DEUTSCH. It is. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 59 Mr. GREEN. And is it to their advantage, just to the average person, to give a rating that will be pleasing, if you will, to the person who is making the payment or the entity making the payment? Mr. DEUTSCH. We don’t believe so. Mr. GREEN. You don’t believe so. You don’t believe that the person who is paying you dearly would like to have a favorable report from you? Mr. DEUTSCH. Absolutely not. And the rationale for that is that investors in these mortgage-backed securities—and, remember, the American Securitization Forum represents the institutional investors in these mortgage-backed securities. If you rate something once, or you rate something twice, or you rate something three times, in each of those times those ratings were incorrect. Institutional investors may lose some confidence in those ratings. So if you do that over an extended period of time, your word effectively is not your bond. Mr. GREEN. In fact, that is what has happened. Mr. DEUTSCH. There has been. Some of— Mr. GREEN. But that is what has happened in this market, because they rated those bundles higher than they should have and many of them are now paying a price for that, because their credibility is on the line. That is how we got into this. Chairwoman WATERS. Would you please discuss, if you will, this moment, the tranches? Mr. GREEN. The tranches, yes. Chairwoman WATERS. They were securitized, and they were placed in these tranches. Some of them were worse than others, and the investors took them. Why? Mr. DEUTSCH. I am sorry. Took what? Chairwoman WATERS. They took the bundle—mortgage-backed securities that were placed in tranches. And as I understand it, the tranches were good, bad, and not so good mortgages. And the investors took the not so good ones along with the good ones. Is that right? Mr. DEUTSCH. Absolutely. It is a fundamental premise of mortgage-backed securitizations is that you want to create different variations of risk. Over 90 to 95 percent of all mortgage-backed securities are AAA rated. Those are oftentimes the tranches that pension funds or that mutual funds will purchase. But lower-rated tranches effectively are tranches that will receive part of the waterfall effectively, is that once the higher ones are paid off, then the lower tranches will be paid. The reason mortgage-backed securitization works very well is it is able to divide up the risk. Pension funds— Chairwoman WATERS. In the lower-rated tranches, were the high credit risks persons who had impaired credit? Mr. DEUTSCH. No. Those tranches are based on the entire pool, not on any particular borrower in that pool. Mr. GREEN. But if you have a tranche A as opposed to a tranche F, and let us assume that A is a better rated tranche— Mr. DEUTSCH. Correct. Mr. GREEN. —if you have a tranche A as opposed to a tranche F, which is more likely to accept foreclosure as a remedy? Mr. DEUTSCH. Neither. Neither benefit from foreclosure. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 60 Mr. GREEN. No, no, not benefit. I said accept the foreclosure. Mr. DEUTSCH. Which is more likely? Mr. GREEN. Yes. Mr. DEUTSCH. I think you would have to ask that institutional investor. Mr. GREEN. But would not the person in tranche A—well, let me ask this way. Would the person in tranche A have a greater amount of benefit in a foreclosure than a tranche F? Mr. DEUTSCH. I think there are different incentives for different investors along— Mr. GREEN. But let us just talk about money as the incentive. Mr. DEUTSCH. Sure. Mr. GREEN. The money from a tranche A foreclosure is larger than the money from a tranche F. Mr. DEUTSCH. No, because all of the funds are pooled into the same entire pool. So the tranche A, you could argue, that over the extended period of the actual security, which extends anywhere from 15 to 30 years, say, depending on the amount, the length of the loans that are backing that security, so over those 30 years, the net present value of having that mortgagee paying the entire amount, over time both class A and class F would benefit from that borrower continuing to pay and stay in that home. Mr. GREEN. Madam Chairwoman, if I could have just 30 seconds. But let us talk about an immediate foreclosure we are talking about within this period of time where you have the teaser rate, and then you move into the adjusted rate that you cannot pay. Mr. DEUTSCH. Right. Mr. GREEN. All right. In that period of time, the tranche A holder, does the tranche A holder benefit to a greater extent than the tranche F? Mr. DEUTSCH. In that period of time? Mr. GREEN. Yes. Because that is really what we are talking about. That is the period of time we are talking about. Mr. DEUTSCH. I think a more appropriate way would say that they suffer less loss— Mr. GREEN. Okay. They suffer less loss. All right. I will adopt your terminology. They suffer less loss. Okay. If they suffer less loss than the tranche F, do you agree that the person who is holding the tranche F, that this person may have some conflict when you are trying to decide whether you should do this, and you are talking to your investors. The modifications, as the Chair has indicated, that is when you run into these conflicts, because they have different levels of interest. Do you agree? Mr. DEUTSCH. They have different levels of interest, but I would you to the American Securitization Forum statement in June of 2007, where we specifically addressed this issue. It is that servicers, when they service mortgage loans, they are serving for the net present value of the entire trust. They are not, and should not, be looking to the implications on any individual class within that trust. Mr. GREEN. No, but the servicers, in doing due diligence, they will consult with the investors. Servicers don’t just do this without consulting investors. True? VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 61 Mr. DEUTSCH. They have their pooling and servicing agreements. Mr. GREEN. Well, you just talked about lawsuits a minute ago. Mr. DEUTSCH. Sure. Mr. GREEN. Now, do you think servicers are doing this without consulting investors? Mr. DEUTSCH. Absolutely. Servicers do talk to the investors who are purchasing those. Mr. GREEN. Okay. That is when they get the intelligence that we just talked about. Mr. DEUTSCH. Sure. But they have a contractual obligation to service in the best interest of all of the security holders, not any individual tranche. Mr. GREEN. The chairwoman has given me the proper terminology: tranche warfare. Have you heard of that term? Mr. DEUTSCH. I have heard that term used— Mr. GREEN. The various tranches in mortgage-backed securities resist loan modifications that might disparately affect their particular slice of that security. That is what we have been talking about. Mr. DEUTSCH. Sure. Mr. GREEN. So we have to be careful when we say, ‘‘No one benefits.’’ While that may be true, there are some who benefit a little more than others, or some who don’t suffer as much as others. Do you agree? Mr. DEUTSCH. Well, I think, again—yes, absolutely I agree. Mr. GREEN. And that is what is creating a lot of—all I am trying to get you to do is help people to understand why it is difficult for the foreclosure to take place, for—excuse me, for the modification to take place. Do you agree that is a part of the difficulty? Mr. DEUTSCH. I think that has been raised, the consideration, and that there are some servicers who have expressed that concern. But again, going back to the point I made to Ms. Waters earlier, is that at the end of the day servicers do take litigation risks. They are— Mr. GREEN. All right. Let me just close with this. If you are familiar with the tranche discussion that we just had, raise your hand, if you understand tranches and you are on this panel and you understand tranches? Okay. Now, those of you who understand tranches, let me ask you, do you agree that these various level of tranches do provide difficulty, cause difficulty in trying to modify these loans? If you do, raise your hand. Yes, sir. Mr. BLACKWELL. It is a complicated issue. Is there— Mr. GREEN. I understand. Mr. BLACKWELL. I barely understand tranches, I will tell you that, but it is a complicated issue. What I will say is that it is very important for us all in this room to ensure that we preserve not only homeownership of those who own homes, but those who will in the future. Mr. GREEN. Sir, we passed that when we had opening statements, so we are with you there. Mr. BLACKWELL. Okay. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 62 Mr. GREEN. But no—no disagreement. What we are trying to do now is get some intelligence out that we have acquired about what is really happening with these investors and how these investors are sometimes at odds with each other over what should be done, and that is what creates a problem with restructuring some of these loans. Do you agree with that? Mr. BLACKWELL. What I will say is it is very important that we get the investors on the same page with the lenders in the— Mr. GREEN. I agree. But to get them on the same page by implication means that they are not on the same page. Do you agree with that? Mr. BLACKWELL. Yes. Mr. GREEN. Okay. That is what we are talking about. They are not on the same page. Mr. Samuels, do you agree that many of them are not on the same page? Mr. SAMUELS. Well, no, I agree with what Mr. Deutsch said about the fact that as a servicer we have an obligation to try to maximize the total return on that security. And so whether you are tranche A or tranche F, we are trying to maximize the present— the net present value of the cashflows on that total security. How it gets distributed is a function of the— Mr. GREEN. Do you agree that a servicer does not have the authority to dispose of the loan as he—as the servicer sees fit without consulting the investor? Mr. SAMUELS. It depends on the pooling and servicing agreement. Mr. GREEN. Okay. But do you agree that most of those agreements would require the investor have some input? Mr. SAMUELS. Some of them do, and some of them give delegated authority. Mr. GREEN. Let us talk about most. Most lawyers don’t write agreements so that the investor does not have some input. Do you agree? Mr. SAMUELS. Oh, well, I don’t know. I can’t—I don’t know the answer to whether most do. Mr. GREEN. Okay. Mr. SAMUELS. Mr. Deutsch could probably answer that better than I can. Mr. DEUTSCH. Thank you, Sandy. I am going to remember that. Mr. GREEN. All right. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. And, listen, I thank all of you for your kindness in trying to help us to get this information out. Thank you very much. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much, Mr. Green. All right. Ms. Richardson? Before you start your question, let me just say that Councilman Bernard Parks, who is very interested in this issue, just came in. Thank you very much. Mr. Parks, we appreciate your being here. Ms. Richardson? Ms. RICHARDSON. Yes. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. A couple of questions. Regarding Countrywide and some of the questions that were asked, it was stated that you make approximately 18 million phone calls. Of those 18 million calls, 55,000 VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 63 were workouts, and of that 29,000 were loan modifications. What happened to everyone else? Mr. SAMUELS. Well, don’t forget that these are calls made to people who are 30 days down, 60 days down, so it is not—you know, we make collection calls, and so we remind people that they have, you know, payments that are due, and so not all of the calls: (a) relate to people who are, you know, in distress; and (b) not all of them are answered. And so we oftentimes have to make multiple calls before we contact the borrower. Ms. RICHARDSON. Well, according to your testimony, you made 18 million calls, and I think you reached 2.2 million, which is approximately a little more than 10 percent. I wouldn’t call that good. I wouldn’t rate that as being good, 10 percent. Mr. SAMUELS. Well, I mean, we can only do as well as the person on the other end of the line. Ms. RICHARDSON. Well, no, that is if you are only relying upon phone calls. Mr. SAMUELS. Well, no, we are not. Ms. RICHARDSON. Or DVDs. Mr. SAMUELS. We are not only relying on that. We are also relying on the mail, etc. Ms. RICHARDSON. Okay. You are kind enough to actually share your information, so I want to make sure that we are not, you know, overly on your end. So I would like to hear a little more from Ms. Albon and Mr. Blackwell. My concern is—and the chairwoman also alluded to this as well—what are you doing beyond the phone calls and beyond the mail? I have talked to constituents who, when they are in this particular situation, they are not only receiving mail from you, they are receiving mail from a hundred other people who are suggesting that they consider working with them to resolve their funding problem. So beyond the mail, and beyond the phone calls, what specifically are you doing to help your borrowers? Ms. ALBON. Well— Ms. RICHARDSON. Besides processing a default. Ms. ALBON. We understand. We are very active with HOPE NOW, Neighborhood Housing Works, other—even ACORN in some areas, trying to work with them to help reach a lot of these customers. We have funded some of—as I believe Countrywide and Wells have—funded some of the national advertising of the Hope foreclosure prevention effort. And we are finding that to be very successful. Ms. RICHARDSON. Okay. With all due respect, you know, you have talked about HOPE NOW and Neighborhood Services, and on and on and on. There are over 10 million people alone in Los Angeles, over 10 million, and so to expect that those three or four organizations that you are referring to—ACORN, and so on—are reaching the millions and millions of people who are out there is just not adequate. It is not sufficient. So what we are looking for is a greater commitment, an additional commitment, exploring other things, whether it is going to a person’s home. These are things that might be a little expensive, but as we have all talked about the expenses are bearing upon ev- VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 64 eryone—you as a provider and also the borrower as well. So are you doing visits? Ms. ALBON. Yes. Ms. RICHARDSON. Have you invested—for example, as the Congresswoman said, it is quite clear that there are specific pockets of areas that are having a higher incidence than others. So are you doing ads? Just like you are advertising for people to utilize your loans, are you doing ads in those particular areas to reach out to those particular borrowers and say, ‘‘Hey, if you happen to be reading such and such paper, or on such and such television, or cable,’’ or, etc., what other aggressive things are you prepared to do to reach out to the borrowers? Ms. ALBON. We are actually using—contracting with servicers to go out to the borrowers’ homes, knocking at the door, leaving flyers if they are not available. We are really using all of those different types of efforts. Ms. RICHARDSON. So would you say out of your borrowers who are in this particular position, 100 percent will receive contact by a visit? Ms. ALBON. Probably not 100 percent, and we are still having trouble reaching more than 50 percent in terms of actually getting them to engage with us. Ms. RICHARDSON. So if you are only reaching 50 percent, and yet you can reach them to get payments, or at least prior to this situation, what other steps do you plan on taking to increase that amount? Ms. ALBON. That is constantly under consideration, and I can go back and get more detail on that. But we are constantly looking at new ways to do a better job of reaching our customers. Ms. RICHARDSON. Okay. Well, what I heard from this subcommittee, the chairwoman requested that you consider looking at some of your advertising dollars that you are spending in terms of reaching out for people, that you consider using those advertising dollars in more creative ways specific to these communities, not advertising dollars to the world, to the United States, but to these specific communities. We are also asking that you consider visits, etc., so you explore those. There were also a few other recommendations that were given that we would like the three of you to consider, and I would like to hear the possibility of you accepting them. One would be extending the time notices of defaults from 90 days to 150 days. The second would be extend time periods for notice of trustee sales from 30 days to 60 days. And then, something Ms. Thomas mentioned that I have heard quite a few constituents talk about, and that is is that there is an unwillingness to accept partial payments. So let us say you get on the phone with someone, and you begin to talk to them about doing a workout or whatever. Unless they are prepared to pay the $20,000, and until a final workout or loan modification is done, there is an unwillingness to accept partial payments. So that would be also a consideration for you to review with your appropriate companies— Ms. ALBON. Okay. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 65 Ms. RICHARDSON. —of allowing partial payments while you are going through this modification period, so that instead of someone being $20,000 behind at the end, maybe they are only $10,000 behind. So then we don’t have this instance where they are having to spread $20,000 over the next 3 months, which they cannot afford. The other point would be, if I understood the gentleman from Countrywide, you are not using outside agencies, creditors, to collect, is that correct? Mr. SAMUELS. I am sorry. What was that? Ms. RICHARDSON. Are you using—are any of you, your three companies, utilizing outside agencies to collect these funds? Mr. SAMUELS. No, we have our own—we have our own collection groups. Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Blackwell? Mr. BLACKWELL. Yes, the same. We do all our collecting ourselves. Ms. ALBON. I will get that information. I am not 100 percent sure that in every pocket of the country, it is on staff, but I will check on that. Ms. RICHARDSON. Okay. So if it is on staff, some of the things we are hearing from constituents is that in addition to the amount that they are owed, the back payments of their previous months, additional fees are also being accumulated that they are being told that they have to pay in order to participate in these loan modifications. Does that apply if it is internal within your own organization? Mr. BLACKWELL. The only fees that we charge are fees that we incur through the process, and so I am not—I guess we would have to get into specifics, and I am not sure I am familiar with all of them. Ms. RICHARDSON. Do you know how much those fees come to on average? Mr. SAMUELS. No, I don’t. Ms. RICHARDSON. Okay. Because— Mr. SAMUELS. But they are not loan modification fees. I mean, we don’t charge for a loan modification, if that is what you are referring to. I mean, it could be that if someone is going through foreclosure, there are fees that you have to pay to newspapers, you know, for advertising or to attorneys in some States, you know, things like that. But there is not a fee for a loan—you know, to engage in a loan modification, there is not a fee. Ms. RICHARDSON. Okay. So even if a person has defaulted to the extent of 5 or 6 months, or whatever, you are not requiring additional fees, is that correct? Mr. SAMUELS. As I said, we are not requiring—if we are doing a workout with them, yes, that is correct. Ms. RICHARDSON. Okay. All right. My last and final question has to do with we really are looking for a commitment. Some of the solutions when I heard Mr. Leonard speak, it sounded very similar to what I hear in my district, and that is a lot of the solutions that you are proposing are just simply other alternatives to pay, whether it is spreading out of 5 months or 6 months, but very few are situations of—where I read in some of your testimonies of offering VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 66 forgiveness of debt, extending the amount that is owed over a longer period of time—for example, more than 6 months. So our constituents, oftentimes we are going to need other creative means to be expressed, and I don’t feel to the satisfaction that you are exploring all of those to the extent that you could. So I would be looking for further action beyond what has happened to this date. Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Ms. RICHARDSON. And you will get back to the chairwoman about the other request? Thank you very much. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. This panel is now dismissed. Let me say to the homeowners who were here today, thank you for spending the time. I understand that you really needed to leave a little bit earlier. I wasn’t aware until recently, the last few moments, that you were staying past the time that you need to leave in order to go to work. I am interested in my staff following up with you, Ms. Thomas, even though it appears that you got some help. I am interested in the $5,000 fee that you paid, and I don’t know where that came from, who it is that—doing a modification or a workout for you. So I am going to ask my staff to follow up with you, because I would like to see what is being done. I thank all of you for being present here today. Mr. Deutsch, we are going to spend a lot of time on servicers. We think you can do a lot more. So I would hope that your Forum would provide the leadership to help us understand how to do a lot more, and I wish you would embrace Chairman Bair’s proposal without reservation, because it seems to me we could get a lot done that way. But we thank you for being here. I think we are going to extend an invitation to you to come to Congress, perhaps not only in a hearing setting but maybe in a caucus setting, where we can delve more into what you do. We are going to review service agreements. We are going to understand a lot more about them, so that we can get a better feeling of what you can and what you cannot do, and this whole liability question. But I want you to leave here knowing that I think my colleagues will agree with me we are interested in resets with the initial amount of the mortgage continuing through the life of that loan. We are really interested in that. Okay? Thank you all very much. Without objection, your written statements will be made a part of the record. We will now move on to panel number three. Some of our members may have additional questions for this panel, which they may wish to submit in writing. So without objection, the hearing record will remain open for 30 days for members to submit written questions to these witnesses, and to place their responses in the record. Panel three, if you will come forward, I will begin the introductions. Again, your written statements will be made a part of the record, and you will be recognized for a 5-minute summary of your testimony. Mr. William Heedly, homeowner, Carson, California; Ms. Hee Suk Cho, homeowner, Camarillo, California; Mr. Ed Smith, Jr., vice president, California Association of Mortgage Brokers; Mr. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 67 LeFrancis Arnold, vice chair, Affordable Housing Committee, California Association of Realtors; Ms. Yolanda Clark, president-elect, Multicultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change; Ms. Tara Twomey, of counsel, National Consumer Law Center. Is that ‘‘Twomey?’’ Ms. TWOMEY. ‘‘Twomey.’’ Chairwoman WATERS. All right. Thank you. Ms. Margaret Frisbee, specific district director, NeighborWorks America; and Ms. Evalyn Burnie, leader, Los Angeles ACORN. So we have a big panel here on this fourth panel. We want to thank all of you for coming, and we are going to start with Mr. Heedly. Is that the correct pronunciation? He is not here yet. Okay. He is here. There he is. How are you doing? Mr. HEEDLY. I am doing fine. Chairwoman WATERS. We are going to start with you. Mr. HEEDLY. Okay. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Would you pull the microphone right up and share your testimony with us? STATEMENT OF WILLIAM HEEDLY, HOMEOWNER, CARSON, CALIFORNIA Mr. HEEDLY. First of all, I would like to thank you, Chairwoman Waters, and this subcommittee for inviting me, you know, to tell my story. Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. Mr. HEEDLY. In March of this year, I was put into a loan. I was tricked into a loan by a guy that I know who I thought was a Realtor, because he had done two loans for me before. I thought I was in a fixed loan, but come to find out, I was in an ARM loan. And after we signed the papers and the deal went through, it wasn’t like the original deal, because he called me and told me, ‘‘Hey, this is not a friendship call. This is a business call. It is time to refinance.’’ I said, ‘‘Well, okay, if we can—if you can get my payments down, if you can pay my car off, then we can go, we can go with it.’’ Okay. So about 2 weeks down—2 or 3 weeks, he had gave me a call and said that he had paid my car off, but he probably couldn’t get the loan down—I mean, get the mortgage down, that it would probably go up $100 or $200. So me and my wife, we talked about it, and we agreed to go along with it, because, you know, like we had dealt with him before, and we trusted him. I know him. You know, I know him, and I didn’t think he would do something like this. Okay. So when the notary came out, he called me and told me that he wouldn’t be able to be there for the notary and to just go on and sign the papers. Everything is, you know, like how we had discussed. Okay. So it was my fault that I signed the papers without him being there. I admit to that. But after we got the coupons, you know, the mortgage and things, come to find out I have a second—a first and a second. Then, I have three choices to pay—the max, minimum, or the—I mean, the max, median, or the minimum. All I am able to pay is the minimum, which makes my interest goes up. So I went to him and I talked with him, and I asked him what could he do, you know, so he said, ‘‘Well, let me look at the paperwork.’’ VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 68 I said, ‘‘Well, look, man, you know, I am trying to find out what the deal is he put me in, and I was in an ARM.’’ And the—I mean, the prepayment penalty is $13,000. ‘‘Why don’t you pay the $13,000, and then I can get somebody else to refinance.’’ He didn’t want to do that. So, you know, I was listening—the way I got some help, I was listening to Front Page. And they were talking about a meeting that they were having at Homeless Church, and I went to the seminar and I don’t—I filed a complaint against this guy with the State Department of Real Estate Complaints, and I found out he doesn’t even have a license. Operation Hope had called me, and I talked with Anne Marie, and she really was trying to help me, and she referred me to Dorothy Herrera, and here I am now. So, I am not in foreclosure, you know, but I want to try to do something about it before I get to foreclosure. And my mortgage is double, is upside down, and I feel so hopeless. You know, I need some help. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much, and I am glad you came today. And we will see to it that you get some assistance. Mr. HEEDLY. Okay. Chairwoman WATERS. And I will move on to our next presenter, Mrs. Hee Suk Cho, and she has a translator with her. Thank you. STATEMENT OF HEE SUK CHO, HOMEOWNER, CAMARILLO, CALIFORNIA, ACCOMPANIED BY JOSHUA BYUNG AN, KOREAN CHURCHES FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, SERVING AS A TRANSLATOR Mr. AN. Hi. This is Mrs. Cho, and I am going to be her translator. I am from KCCD, and I represent Korean Churches for Community Development, and we work for the Korean community to resolve these housing issues. As of now, the problem has not been resolved, and she is actually considering many options, including bankruptcy. She came to testify as to how she got into this. Back in August of 2005, she purchased a townhouse for $518,000 with a 10 percent downpayment. Because of her language barrier, she went to a Korean-speaking licensed broker. The agreement was that she would make a total payment of $1,500 a month. That loan included no penalty and $100 increments once a year for the next 5 years. Then, the broker told her that she could refinance within 2 years. So she was making a $1,500 a month mortgage payment. She was making payments to WMC Mortgage Company, and then in January 2006, a bill came from Countrywide. The bill included four options. First, to make a payment, and one of the options had $1,451 that is going to be added to the principal. So she contacted the original—the Korean broker, and then the broker told her to just make the option three payment, which now is the minimum payment and don’t worry about it. So the payment used to be $1,500. Now the minimum payment is $2,736, and that is—she didn’t know it at that time, but now she knows that it is a negative amortization, and $1,400 is being added to principal every month. So she continued to make that minimum payment of $2,700 for about a year. Meanwhile, because her pay- VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 69 ment jumped so high she was having very difficult time making a payment, so she looked for different sources to refinance but was not able to find anyone to refinance her loan. One thing that she found out through, you know, other sources is that she has been refinanced, and that included 3 years of prepayment penalty. So she was very confused at the time, so she went back to the Countrywide office and confirmed that the loan had been refinanced without her knowledge. She confirmed that the signature had been forged without her knowledge, and she couldn’t really do anything, because of penalties and because of high payments. She looked for help from the lawyer, but—and the lawyer told her that it is likely a fraudulent case and she could win the case, but she was very reluctant to hire a lawyer because of high cost, and the time that it takes for them to process and make the case. In the midst of all these troubles, there was another loan agency that approached her and claimed that if she signed the paperwork to give up her rights for the house to them, they would let her live in the house with her children and make a rent payment to them. She signed it. At the time, she thought she was making the right choice, because she wanted to save the house and live in that place with her children. But, still, she was very confused and not sure what was going on, so she found an ad in the local newspaper about KCCD. That is how she came to KCCD and asked for help. Through KCCD, she learned that the loan agency that approached her was fraudulent, so she actually canceled that contract with them. And we are still now trying to solve the problem. She is at a point where she is going to make decisions for bankruptcy or foreclosure for anything. I would like to say after this hearing, we are going to actually go meet with the Countrywide personnel to help her situation, to talk about it. And she is really desperate right now. She wants to get an answer today. If not, she is going to just go crazy. Thank you. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. And let me just say to you, Ms. Hee Suk Cho, that we certainly sympathize with you, and we are very sorry that you have been placed into this kind of a situation. And I wish that the Countrywide representative was still here. Are you here? Okay, fine. You have this case? You hear what she is saying? We need you to move on this very aggressively right away. My staff will follow up with you to make sure that we do everything that we can to help this consumer who has obviously been defrauded. All right? Thank you very much. Mr. AN. Thank you. Chairwoman WATERS. Staff, will you follow up with this? Thank you. Ms. CHO. Thank you. Chairwoman WATERS. We have that information. All right. We are going to move over to Mr. Ed Smith. And I should wait until the time for questions, but I have been hearing so much about these options that people are being given. Do you want to pay a little? Do you want to pay a lot? Or do you want VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 70 to pay the minimum amount? I never heard of that before. So if you in your testimony could help us understand that, I would appreciate it very much. STATEMENT OF ED SMITH, JR., VICE PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF MORTGAGE BROKERS Mr. SMITH. Absolutely. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to speak before this panel and yourself. You have been a very good supporter of our organization, and we hope we bring value to that relationship. Like I said, my name is Ed Smith, and I am the vice president of government affairs for the California Association of Mortgage Brokers. We represent the top 15 percent of licensed originators in California. We have criminal background checks, we have DOJ checks, we have pre-education, post-, and continuing education requirements. We are licensed originators in the State of California. We represent approximately 4,800 members. Today is one of the days that we really are happy to be able to bring value to our relationship in the process of explaining and working with homeowners such as Mrs. Cho here. From what she just articulated, it sounds like she also needs to talk to the California Department of Real Estate, because it sounds like some criminal— Ms. PETERS. I just gave her my card. Mr. SMITH. Okay. Oh, I didn’t know. I didn’t know Heather was back there. Because it sounds like some criminal activity has occurred. I wanted to bring just a few statistics to the table before I talk about our preserving homeownership initiative, but I also— and I will also explain to you what that option ARM, negative amortization loan is, if you give me the time. At the end of the fiscal year of June of 2007, the California Department of Real Estate initiated 9,103 investigations which resulted in 1,382 licensed denials. Those are individuals who are trying to get in our business but were denied at the point of application. Of those investigations, 507 resulted in license suspensions and revocations for individuals in our business who have done things such as enumerated here with Ms. Cho. So I just want to applaud the California Department of Real Estate, BT&H, Ms. Peters, for being very aggressive in following up on these complaints. To give you a little bit of background about negative amortizing loans, which is—you will hear some of the time called K-option ARMs. This is the typical type loan that has been utilized in the last couple of years as a financing technique, as a direct result of the high cost of homeownership. What that negative amortization really means is that there are four payment options, which gives an option of the minimal payment which is due on the loan, which in many cases, in all cases, is not the minimum amount due just for the interest on that loan that month. So each month when an individual makes payment option number one, which is called the negative amortizing payment, there is an arrearage. There is a shortfall of interest that is not being paid on the balance of the loan. This is being added to the VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 71 balance of the loan on a monthly basis. So, effectively, you are losing every month. You are adding on to your principal every month. Typically, payment option number two is an interest only payment, which is if you make that payment your balance will remain the same, you will not grow, but you will not also do any principal reduction. That is the interest only feature of payment option number two. Number three is typically a 30-year amortized payment, and the number four in certain cases is a 15-year amortized payment. What we are seeing here in the last couple of years is this product has been a very predominant product used in the marketplace, because it got people into homes that they really couldn’t afford. Many of those products were utilized with stated income and also using 100 percent financing with no downpayment, no downpayment whatsoever. So when the market came down, values are declining, your balances on your loans are rising, and when those interest rates hit a certain percentage that is prescribed in your loan documents, usually 115 percent of the original loan balance, that loan recasts to a fully amortized payment at whatever the rate is at that time. This is what we call payment shock. This is what is killing consumers in this country, and especially in California, because we are such a high cost area here. This kind of dovetails into the high cost issue. Many of us realize that in California you cannot buy a property for under $417,000. This is one of the reasons why these products have been so prevalent with interest only, negative amortization, and some of the other exotic products that are out in the marketplace. We would encourage you to look at raising California and have it—raising California’s loan amounts and loan limits to be in a high cost area, Southern California as a high cost designated area, to put liquidity back into the marketplace so we can have sustainable, long-term loans. This is a critical, critical cog of the wheel to this problem. If we kind of move into what we are doing, Congressman Green mentioned a little earlier, what are we doing about going back and reaching back? Many people don’t go back to the same people that they had problems with. I am proud to say that our association is built of small businesses. We are mortgage brokers who live, work, worship, and work with the communities that we live in. We create long-term relationships to sustain our businesses, and we are actually, through our preserving homeownership program, are going right back into those communities that we serve, that we did business with, and actually explaining and working and trying to come up with workable solutions to keep people in their homes as a result of a reset or as a result of a loan product that is no longer palatable for that individual for whatever reason it is. We are the first organization that are loan originators that actually have created that program. We work with the Department of Consumer Affairs. We actually go out and do town hall meetings, and we work in those communities where people are losing their homes right now. We go back and we deal with these individuals, and we don’t run away from them after we do business with them. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 72 This program has been a success throughout the State of California. We have 19 chapters, approximately 4,800 members, we have meetings throughout the State on an ongoing basis, and we partner with other nonprofit organizations and ourselves and other legislators to reach back into those constituents’ neighborhoods and work with those legislators to try to bring some type of relief back to the communities to keep people in their homes. We have heard a whole lot of talk today about the results of the inactivity or not being able to have—consumers not being able to have regress once they call their loan servicers. I don’t want to beat that up. We already know that there is a problem when people reach out to their loan servicers. I am very proud today to see that the major loan servicers in this State are actually reaching back and proactively saying what they say they are going to do, and let us wait and see if they are going to do it. We are actually doing it. We are experiencing the same problems as those consumers do when they reach the telephone. [The prepared statement of Mr. Smith can be found on page 157 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Mr. LeFrancis Arnold, it is good to see you. STATEMENT OF LeFRANCIS ARNOLD, VICE CHAIR, AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMMITTEE, CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Mr. ARNOLD. It is very nice to be here, and I want to thank you, Congresswoman Waters, and members of the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee for inviting me today to speak on behalf of the California Association of Realtors on the issue of foreclosure prevention and intervention. My name is LeFrancis Arnold, and I am the owner and broker of LeFrancis Arnold Consulting, a Lynwood, California, firm specializing in all aspects of real estate, including FHA loans. I have been a member of the California Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors for over 30 years. I have been privileged to serve on a number of policy committees at both organizations. The California Association of Realtors is the largest State trade association in the country, with over 200,000 members. CAR’s members are the front line of California’s real estate market and have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects that mounting foreclosures could have on families and a community. Over the last 2 years, the California housing market has experienced a significant correction, from a peak level of sales for both 2004 and 2005 of 625,000 existing home sales have declined to an expected 350,000 this year. At the same time, the rate of foreclosures in the State has gone from historic lows to return of the high experienced in the mid1990’s. Personally, I have seen more than a 40 percent decline in my business while peers in other parts of the State has experienced even greater declines. Many people have asked me, what is the cause of this downturn? With more than 30 years in the business, I can tell you no one single factor is to blame, and, therefore, no one single solution will VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 73 help ease the current market downturn. Instead, a broad-based approach must be taken where all players in the real estate industry do their part, including Realtors. Now, more than ever, Realtors are working to keep families in their homes and maintaining strong communities. As a first point of contact for home buyers, often it is the Realtors that homeowners turn to for help when in trouble. However, every situation is unique, and, unfortunately, foreclosure is sometimes unavoidable. As the market began its current downturn in 2006, CAR began taking aggressive steps to provide the best tools to our members, including large pools of recently licensed Realtors in California who have never been through a market like this. Many of these agents have never performed a short sale, communicated with lenders on behalf of troubled homeowners to work out a loan on a REO, or sold a foreclosure property. As such, now CAR offers both short sale and foreclosure classes to members and non-members. CAR sponsors and applauds Governor Schwarzenegger’s lenders and servicers who have recently worked out an agreement for the fast loan modification, subprime mortgages as such. Proactive efforts such as these are an example of what is needed to stem the tide of foreclosure and ease the current turn down. Let me share this with you, in my experience of 30 years, we have been through this. We have been through similar situations like this when the interest rates went up in the 1980’s. Lenders must change their policies so that borrowers are not required to be delinquent on their mortgage payment before a troubled loan can be worked out. Many of my fellow Realtors have described frustration when contacting lenders on behalf of homeowners who realized that they would not be able to make their mortgage payment when their loans reset. The homeowner must be in delinquency before loan workout can be discussed. Additionally, lenders must address the current staff shortage in loss mitigation departments which are presently overwhelmed. For the government’s part, the Senate needs to pass, and the President must sign legislation to reform government housing programs intended to keep America’s housing market stable. That includes FHA and GSE reform. Increased FHA and GSE loan limits in high cost areas, better homeowner opportunities for the American veterans, mortgage debt cancellation relief, and subprime mortgage reform that balances strong consumer protection with the need to maintain a flow of capital to the housing market. In closing— Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Mr. ARNOLD. —I would like to tell the subcommittee a story about a family of four who lost their home. This family was working with their agent and their lender’s loss mitigation department to get a short sale approved by the investment firm who purchased the loan. When the short sale was finally approved, it turned out that the investment firm’s foreclosure department had also approved the foreclosure sale. This is a simple example. They ended up losing VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 74 their home. Lack of communication between the Mitigation Department and the Foreclosure Department. These are ongoing problems. That family lost their home. These are issues that we have to deal with, and we need to deal with them now. I want to thank you, Congresswoman Waters, for having this hearing here in Los Angeles, because California at this point is the foreclosure capital of the country. Thank you. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Now we will hear from Ms. Yolanda Clark, president-elect, Multicultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change. STATEMENT OF YOLANDA CLARK, PRESIDENT-ELECT, MULTICULTURAL REAL ESTATE ALLIANCE FOR URBAN CHANGE Ms. CLARK. Thank you, Chairwoman Waters, and members of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity for allowing me to testify at this hearing on foreclosure prevention and intervention. My name is Yolanda Clark, and I am president and broker of Golden Path Real Estate and Home Loans. I am also presidentelect of the Multicultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change, and have been president or vice president of several other organizations. There are four points that I wish to convey to this subcommittee today. The rippling effects of foreclosure are far more devastating than just to the homeowners or the lender; it affects the entire community. A large sector of the economy is hurting. Foreclosures are affecting both the consumer and the real estate community. What problems are perpetuating the situation? And what should be done to resolve the problem? The foreclosure crisis is not just a borrower and lender problem. Closed escrows in California were down 38.9 percent in September, and 40.2 percent in October. Brokers and lenders are being forced to reduce their staff, overhead, and some are going out of business. It has produced a trickle-down effect impacting all real estate affiliate businesses. Escrow, title, appraisals, termite companies, home warranty, home inspection, construction workers and developers are but a few of these businesses, not to mention the loss of revenue and fees generated to governmental agencies by closed transactions. Foreclosures have affected the local market by loss of equity. August to September was both the largest month-to-month percentage decline on record and the first year-to-year decline in more than 10 years. The impact of foreclosure affects all tiers of the property— of the market, I am sorry—including the high end. Well-qualified borrowers were affected by the lack of funds available for jumbo loans. Problems or obstacles have been encountered in trying to assist homeowners in foreclosure prevention, which was discussed earlier today. Difficulties in getting a lender on the phone and the loss mitigation department, lenders are further devaluating properties by cutting appraised values established by certified appraisers. I understand that the lenders must protect themselves in this market, but they are producing two negative results: One, clients VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 75 and neighborhoods are being robbed of hard-earned equity; and, two, lenders are cutting appraised values more in lower income and minority neighborhoods. This affects seniors trying to get reverse mortgages, property owners trying to refinance, and the home buyer stability—desirability to purchase in devaluated neighborhoods. In other words, who wants to buy a home in a neighborhood that is going to be worth less than what you paid for it? Lenders have outsourced loss mitigation services as well as other related real estate services to foreign countries, further perpetuating job losses and the situation. What tools or resources do we need in order to overcome these obstacles? Education is one of the most important things that need to be accomplished. Education of the public should be provided by counselors that are licensed real estate professionals who understand the ramifications of what they are teaching or what they are saying to the client, and who are able to give a more complete picture of the total real estate process from understanding the types of loans available to foreclosure proceedings to evaluating the property. Although there are some really good licensed homebuyer counselors who have never purchased, listed, or sold, the licensed practicing real estate professional has more of a first-hand, in-depth experience and fully understands the mechanics of home-buying. Misinformation can hurt the consumer rather than help them. Financial and programmatic resources are needed to provide education and counseling to prevent foreclosure. Incentives are needed to assist lenders in working out pre-foreclosure solutions, thereby taking a positive, proactive approach to preventing foreclosures. All persons originating mortgages should be licensed, not just the companies. All legislation should be binding on all originators, regardless of the governing department. Originators for non-licensing entities can simply go to another institution and start the same thing over again. There is no accountability. Correct terminology should be used. There is a difference between a notice of default and a foreclosure proceeding, because there are sometimes workout programs available and they don’t always result in a foreclosure. Public service announcements should be made. Legislation should be done as well. Legislation intervention is necessary. In conclusion, I just wanted to say that buyers and sellers cycle have always been a part of this business, but right now it is more crucial than it has been in all of my 20 years of real estate, and that is because there are so many simultaneous things—factors affecting the market, not just non-prime loans but unemployment, outsourcing. There are a lot of factors that are affecting this. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Ms. CLARK. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Chairwoman WATERS. You are certainly welcome. Ms. Twomey? VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 76 STATEMENT OF TARA TWOMEY, OF COUNSEL, NATIONAL CONSUMER LAW CENTER Ms. TWOMEY. Good afternoon, Chairwoman Waters, and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me to testify. My name is Tara Twomey, and I am an attorney, currently of counsel, with the National Consumer Law Center, and a lecturer at Stanford Law School. Before moving to California about 3 years ago, I was clinical instructor at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School where my practice focused primarily on foreclosure prevention and predatory lending litigation. I testify here today on behalf of the National Consumer Law Center as well as the low-income clients that we assist and represent. As you already know, we have a foreclosure crisis in this country that is real, it is big, and it is growing. Its magnitude currently dwarfs the response from the financial services industry. Loan modifications, which are one of several loss mitigation tools, have been identified as one of the preferred strategies for addressing the rising tide of foreclosures, but in practice they do not appear to be happening in any significant numbers. The recent measures, which will freeze interest rates for certain California homeowners, are a significant step in the right direction. However, the length of time for the proposed freeze is unspecified. Clearly, the agreement did not contemplate permanent modifications to those loans, and instead we believe is merely a ‘‘kick the can’’ approach to solving the foreclosure crisis. To be sure, it will provide some immediate relief to some people, but it is not a longterm solution. It is well known that creating a long-term solution will require overcoming some structural barriers inherent in today’s mortgage market. Some of these barriers we have already talked about today—constraints in the pooling and servicing agreements, mismatched interest of borrowers, servicers, and holders, and the tranche warfare which pits investors against other investors and servicers. But from the homeowner’s perspective, the first hurdle to loss mitigation is getting a live person on the phone—getting a live person on the phone that can provide reliable information and who can make a decision about the homeowner’s loan. You have heard from the servicers today that contact with the consumer is key. Well, that is important, but if borrowers are caught up in a maze of voicemail and bounced around from one department to another, and receive contradictory information, as was just spoken about a few minutes ago, from servicer representatives, that is not helpful to borrowers. And borrowers deserve something better. They deserve—loan servicers need to find a way to provide timely, consistent, and competent information to borrowers about their own loans. Today, I would also like to urge the subcommittee and other Members of Congress to look beyond the rate reset problem. While rate resets pose a substantial hurdle for many borrowers, there is another group of distressed borrowers who has received much less attention. These homeowners have not been subject to payment VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 77 shocks or adverse life events, but, rather, have been saddled with unaffordable loans from the moment the loan was originated. These families are defaulting on their mortgages not because of the teaser rate, because in these cases the—it is because the teaser rate in these loans are 9 or 10 percent, or sometimes even higher, the teaser rate. These families are defaulting on their mortgage loans because their monthly payments for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance exceeds 60 percent of their gross—or even 70 percent of their gross income. A successful loan modification strategy for these borrowers will take more than temporary or even permanent freezes of their adjustable rates. These homeowners will need interest rate reductions. They will need principal reductions or some combination of the two in order to realize the goal of affordable and sustainable homeownership. NCLC supports an approach that would combine the automatic loan modifications for certain classes of loans as well as—in addition to case-by-case measures to reach those for whom automatic measures are either insufficient or for those who are not eligible for the automatic modifications. In addition to requiring servicers to implement reasonable loss mitigation measures, it is important to nip in the bud abusive practices in the loan modification process. For some time now, homeowners and consumer advocates have struggled with servicers who have no interest in helping families stay in their homes. Rather, in the interest of maximizing profits, servicers have engaged in a laundry list of bad behavior that has exacerbated foreclosure rates. The nature of the loss mitigation process makes the disparities in bargaining power between the homeowner and the servicer even greater than the disparities in the origination context. This provides fertile ground for abuse. Currently, one of the most pernicious practices is to include a broad waiver of claims provision in the loan modification agreement. Upon execution of the agreement, the borrower waives all claims that they have, or may ever have, related to the loan. In a forbearance agreement that I recently reviewed, the waiver language also required borrowers to specifically waive their rights under California Civil Code Section 1542. That section was enacted to protect parties from waiving unknown and unforeseen claims in general release provisions. That kind of broad release language is simply inappropriate in the context of a loan modification. The practice should not be allowed to flourish. In conclusion, loan modification is a strategy that can be used to limit the devastating consequences of skyrocketing foreclosure rates. There are challenges to implementing this strategy at a scale commensurate with the foreclosure problem. These challenges are significant, but not insurmountable. We hope that the subcommittee and Congress will act to make sustainable loan modifications a viable option for millions of homeowners who will face foreclosure in the coming years. Thank you very much. [The prepared statement of Ms. Twomey can be found on page 165 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 78 Ms. Margaret Frisbee, Pacific district director, NeighborWorks America. STATEMENT OF MARGARET FRISBEE, PACIFIC DISTRICT DIRECTOR, NEIGHBORWORKS AMERICA Ms. FRISBEE. Thank you, Chairwoman Waters, and Congresswoman Richardson. My name is Margaret Frisbee, and I serve as district director, Pacific District, for NeighborWorks America. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to talk about the efforts we and our partners are making to help stem the tide of foreclosures, especially in California, and most particularly L.A. By way of background, NeighborWorks America was established by Congress in 1978 as the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. The Corporation receives Federal appropriated funding out of the Transportation, HUD, and related agencies’ appropriations subcommittee. The Corporation’s board of directors is made up of the heads of the Federal financial regulatory agencies and the Secretary of HUD. The primary mission of NeighborWorks America is to expand affordable housing opportunities and to strengthen distressed communities across America, working through a national network of local, community-based organizations known collectively as the NeighborWorks Network. Our network includes about 249 nonprofits serving close to 4,500 communities in all 50 States. They operate in our Nation’s largest cities and in some of its smallest rural communities. Here in California, there are 18 NeighborWorks organizations, including the LANHS, which as we speak is working in the next room, along with other partners, providing counseling to people who have been coming in all day looking for help with their mortgage problems. I know we are talking about trying to get to a large answer, but right now all we have is one-to-one counseling. That is the only thing we can do, and it is very time-consuming. Local NeighborWorks organizations provide a wide variety of services that reflect the needs of their neighborhoods and communities. They have provided homeownership counseling to more than 500,000 families, assisted nearly 150,000 families of modest means to become homeowners, and just in this past year generated about $4 billion in direct investment in distressed communities. But today I would just like to highlight a few things that we are trying to do in response to the precipitous rise in foreclosures. NeighborWorks America has a 30-year history of facilitating lending to non-conventional borrowers. From our experience, we know that the best defense against mortgage delinquency and foreclosure is education and counseling before the borrower begins shopping for a home and selecting a mortgage product. We also know that homeowners’ odds of success are increased even further when they have access to post-purchase counseling and homeowner education. We have been closely tracking the loan performance of the many low-income families assisted by these organizations over the years, and we can report that they are 10 times less likely to go into foreclosure than subprime borrowers, and even 4 times less likely to go into foreclosure than FHA borrowers. So counseling is the key. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00084 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 79 Our commitment to quality homeownership extends far beyond our network. We have our NeighborWorks Center for Home Ownership Education and Counseling, and the NeighborWorks Training Institute, and we have become the Nation’s largest trainer of housing counseling professionals. We saw the problem of foreclosures coming over 4 years ago, not just in California but in other parts of the country. With the strong support of our Board, we created the NeighborWorks Center for Foreclosure Solutions. It is an unprecedented partnership between nonprofit financial mortgage and insurance sectors, and you have heard that name today—the Hope Hotline. Well, that is the hotline that we are now working with with the Homeownership Preservation Foundation. We are trying to get the word out about this Hope Hotline, and it is—we are working with the Ad Council, and we would like it if everybody knew about it, but unfortunately they don’t. The service is available 24/7 to provide callers with high quality, telephonebased assistance in English and in Spanish, but individuals needing more intensive service are then referred out to a NeighborWorks organization or another HUD-approved housing counseling agency. Our basic message through the Hope Hotline is that nothing is worse than doing nothing. In addition to the Hope Hotline, many of our local NeighborWorks organizations are also counseling delinquent homeowners every day. These organizations have stretched their budgets, redeployed staff, and worked hundreds of extra hours, all to address the real very threat that pending foreclosure is causing in communities across the country. We are actively training hundreds of counselors on foreclosure intervention at our national training institutes, but now we are trying to bring them out regionally. We have one scheduled here in L.A. in January, and we expect to have many more in the coming year. We know we have to get more counselors on the ground. I am going to skip all of the statistics. We just simply know that it is really bad out here, and so what we have are 14 local NeighborWorks organizations in California offering aggressive homeownership preservation services. Eleven of them are using the Hope Hotline. They have generated—17,800 calls have come in from California in the past year, making it by far the largest number of calls of anywhere in the country. [The prepared statement of Ms. Frisbee can be found on page 113 of the appendix.] Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. Ms. FRISBEE. You are welcome. Chairwoman WATERS. Next we will have Ms. Evalyn Burnie, leader, Los Angeles ACORN. Thank you for being here. STATEMENT OF EVALYN BURNIE, LEADER, LOS ANGELES ACORN, ACCOMPANIED BY MR. RICHARD CASTRO, NEIGHBORWORKS AMERICA Ms. BURNIE. Good afternoon, and thank you for this opportunity to testify about the importance of effective loss mitigation strategies in keeping families in their homes. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00085 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 80 I, Evalyn Burnie, am a member of ACORN. I am a member of the California State Chapter, and ACORN stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the national largest grass-roots community organization of low- and moderate-income families consisting of 350,000 members organized in 850 neighborhoods, in cities—more than 100 different cities across the United States. Thirty-seven thousand of these members live in California. I am an example of someone who almost got caught up in the current wave of foreclosures, in a large part because I was a victim of a predatory mortgage broker. But I am here today to discuss what ACORN is doing about the current foreclosure crisis. Community-based housing counselor agencies, such as our sister organization ACORN Housing Corporation, have begun to be more aggressively—to more aggressively provide specialized post-purchase assistance to distressed borrowers, including delinquency counseling and foreclosure prevention. The effect of the delinquency counseling depends on the willingness of the servicer to engage in reasonable loss mitigation, often including loan modification that typically involves changing a loan from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate, or changing other terms to enhance affordability. This is essential. This is the first step in keeping families in their homes. We believe that some lenders may be willing to announce some major initiatives to assist delinquent borrowers such as contacting borrowers several months before their rate adjusts, or, more importantly, offering a fixed rate alternative using a good affordability standard to modify unaffordable loans. We have also held foreclosure prevention workshops, fairs across the country, which individual lenders and servicers have agreed to attend and worked with at-risk customers and loan—on loan modifications. Here in L.A., hundreds of people have attended these workshops and received assistance to avoid. In conclusion, ACORN is committed to ensuring that low- to moderate-income residents are protected from the dangers of predatory lending. Based on our experience, we would like to make the following policy recommendations. One is city, county, and States should identify neighbors at great risk from growing numbers of foreclosures and the vacant properties that also often result and should implement emergency action to help prevent the decline of these neighborhoods. Congress should pass legislation to protect families against predatory mortgage lending and foreclosure rescue scams. Congress should also pass legislation that would reform the Bankruptcy Code to allow judges to modify mortgage loans on primary residence for borrowers applying for bankruptcy. Last, Congress should approve funding for HUD-certified housing counseling organizations such as ACORN Housing Corporation that provide foreclosure prevention services to borrowers. And that is really important. Lenders, servicers, and investors should aggressively modify unaffordable loans to prevent foreclosures. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to testify, and I will be happy to answer any questions that you have. Chairwoman WATERS. Thank you very much. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 81 Thank you very much. We will take the next few minutes, Ms. Richardson and I, and ask a few questions of you. We thank you for having been here. Some of the recommendations that you made are recommendations that we are pursuing in Congress already—the increase of the loan limits for sure, and some other things that you have said to us. Let me just raise a few questions. First, Mr. Heedly, we need to assign someone from our office to get together with you, so we can unravel what has taken place and where you are and see what we can do to give you some assistance. And we will do that. I hope that we have taken that information. Let me return—well, also, we have already said that we are going to assist you with Countrywide and do everything that we can to get you out of what looks like a very complicated and difficult situation, Ms. Hee Suk Cho. Mr. Smith, you have heard some of the statements that have been made about who initiated some loans, and the mortgage brokers have to take some responsibility in the initiation of some of these exotic products. But you have also said that your organization only deals with licensed brokers, that you do not have unlicensed brokers in your organization. Is that correct? Mr. SMITH. That is correct. We have approximately 20 members who were grandfathered in that were registered and licensed under the Department of Corporations, and our executive board of directors, which I am part of, are reviewing that now to determine if in fact those members will still be allowed to be a member. They are not voting members. Chairwoman WATERS. So could you tell me, if you know, how many unlicensed brokers do we have in California? Mr. SMITH. That is the $64,000 question. There are three regulatory— Chairwoman WATERS. Describe them to us. Who are they? Mr. SMITH. There are three regulatory regimes within California, us being licensed by the Department of Real Estate, the Department of Corporations has lenders that are—the companies are licensed, but the individuals that work there are not licensed. For example, Countrywide is licensed by the Department of Corporations. In many instances, individuals that work for these companies may have part-time jobs. I am not saying that they are not competent, but they don’t go through the rigorous tests and have the fiduciary responsibility that we do as licensed brokers in California. There is an interdepartmental task force now that has been created as a result of Senate Bill 385 that is working through the process to identify the number of employees that work for these companies that are only licensed as companies but not individual licensees. Chairwoman WATERS. What was the third? Did you— Mr. SMITH. And the third one is the Department of Financial Institutions in California, which handles the State-chartered banks and credit unions, which I believe there are approximately 127 in California. Chairwoman WATERS. So you are saying they have unlicensed— Mr. SMITH. They are not required to have a license either. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00087 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 82 Chairwoman WATERS. Repeat who is not required to have a license again. Mr. SMITH. The Department of Financial Institutions, which are your State-chartered banks and credit union employees. Those are the individuals that sit in front of a customer, do loans, but they are not required to have a license such as us under the regime of the California Department of Real Estate, in addition to the Department of Corporations, such as your Countrywide. Those are your consumer finance lenders. Chairwoman WATERS. Do you support legislation that would require all brokers to be licensed? Mr. SMITH. We wholeheartedly support that legislation, which is in H.R. 3915. We believe, from the California Association of Mortgage Brokers, that every individual who sits in front of a customer in this State, and the United States, should have a registration and a license and be competent in handling the biggest financial transaction of most people’s lives. Chairwoman WATERS. And we agree with that. We heard from you some of the actions that you are taking to help us deal with this crisis. Do you support Chairman Bair’s recommendation that we continue for the life of the loan the initial rate that the consumer, the borrower, was given? Mr. SMITH. In concept, I agree. This is personally. This is not from the California Association of Mortgage Brokers. We don’t have an official position. But personally, as a 24-year veteran of doing residential home loans in San Diego County, I believe that creating sustainable, long-term products that help create generational wealth for families is the way to go. Chairwoman WATERS. So basically, what you are saying is that the recommendation by Chairman Bair could help solve this problem. Mr. SMITH. It could be the first step to creating long-term stability for a family who has the ability and demonstrated willingness to make a payment to be able to count on what they have to pay every month to budget for their family. Chairwoman WATERS. There is one other aspect of that I would like to focus on, and that is this. It was said, I think today by one of our presenters here, that some people should have the ability to get in this program for this long-term sustained loan, but others should not. Why don’t we just do it for everybody? Mr. SMITH. I think that everyone should have the opportunity to have a home. I think that is the American dream. The reality of it is that some individuals are not financially prepared for the responsibility of owning a home. But I disagree with the fundamental construct that you don’t have an opportunity to try. I think if we legislate product, we are going to lock out people and stymie growth and reduce homeownership rates in California and the United States. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to own a home. And given that—with that— Chairwoman WATERS. If you got into this loan with a teaser rate, and you go for a workout, and say the teaser rate was one that would reset in—I guess they reset any time—6 months, a year. Do you believe that a person could have damaged their credit so bad, even though they have paid the teaser rate, but now they cannot VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00088 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 83 afford the rate that will reset, that they should be denied a continuation of the teaser rate because somehow their credit has gone bad? If they can afford the teaser rate, they can pay the teaser rate, we are talking about the workout that would allow them to continue to do that, should they be allowed to have that opportunity? If they can’t do the teaser rate, then perhaps they should be foreclosed on. But what is it in this 6-month period, or this 1-year period, about their credit that would cause one to say, ‘‘Sorry, you can’t maintain the teaser rate’’? Mr. SMITH. I have a fundamental disagreement with that construct. Currently, under the FHA and VA rapid refinance or streamlined refinance process, there is no credit requirement if you can demonstrate that you had successful payments the previous 12 months. So that is an argument right there that a person may have credit problems, but they have demonstrated an ability to make a payment and they are awarded a loan. Chairwoman WATERS. You heard what was said by the Forum here today relative to that, and taking a look at the credit background that may not qualify one to continue with the teaser rate. That is something that we want to try and get at based on what I have heard here today. Mr. SMITH. I think we could get a deeper dive on that. Quite frankly, any loan is better than no loan. A teaser rate is better than no rate, as the Congressman said earlier. Chairwoman WATERS. Yes. All right. Mr. SMITH. I firmly agree with that. Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Mr. SMITH. And we have that in process already under the VA and FHA regime currently. Chairwoman WATERS. All right. Thank you very much. Ms. Clark, you told us something that I didn’t know. You said they are outsourcing loss mitigation activities. To where, offshore? And what do they do? What do they do when India calls your home? I mean— Ms. CLARK. You can’t get them on the phone. Chairwoman WATERS. How do they do this? Ms. CLARK. They have been doing this for a while. Even title is outsourced to foreign countries. That is why you can’t reach a lot of the lenders, because they are not available. They are not here. Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. I hear what you are saying. So we have this outsourcing. But I am a homeowner, and I am about to be delinquent, or I have become delinquent, and you have loss mitigation that will help me to understand that I have a problem, and some way that I can work this out, so that I can get caught up, or what have you. How does this outsource entity from someplace else help me to do that? Ms. CLARK. That is the problem. When you try to reach these people, you can’t. And that is what is perpetuating the situation. Chairwoman WATERS. Ms. Twomey? Ms. CLARK. But they all— Chairwoman WATERS. Go ahead. I am sorry. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00089 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 84 Ms. CLARK. But from my understanding, they set up shell companies that are here in the United States, but the actual people who are answering the phones are not here. Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Ms. CLARK. They are in foreign countries. Chairwoman WATERS. Do you know anything about this, Ms. Twomey? Ms. TWOMEY. Yes. I think what has been represented is accurate. As a matter of fact, oftentimes when loans go into default, the servicing rights are transferred to a default servicer, so there is actually another entity that comes into play when loans go in default. So, the number of different entities that borrowers have to deal with in the process can be fairly overwhelming. And as was already mentioned, actually getting a live body on the phone is one thing. I think the other thing that happens is there are two different departments usually. There is collections, and there is loss mitigation, and usually people start at collections. And the goal of the collections department is to collect money, not to do a loan workout, and so getting—working your way up the chain to get to the loss mit department, and then to find someone in the loss mit department who can actually make a decision about your loan is a real hurdle, I think, for a lot of borrowers. Chairwoman WATERS. So let me just ask about a concept that may be applicable to what we are talking about here. I can recall for years they have created in cities one-stop shops. And these onestop shops were basically for businesses, what is good for business. We should have a one-stop shop to keep them from having to run all over city government for licensing and this, that, and the other. We should be talking about a one-stop shop for this situation of doing workouts. Ms. TWOMEY. I think that is an excellent idea, and especially if there is a third party at the one-stop shop that can help the borrower figure out—one of the things I mentioned was the bargaining disparity that we have when you have a distressed homeowner trying to save their home and a servicer that makes all of the decisions. And a third party being involved in that would be helpful in helping the borrower to navigate that process. That, of course, requires more funding to be able to do that. Chairwoman WATERS. Do you have a contract with any of these financial institutions? Ms. TWOMEY. No, we don’t do specific— Chairwoman WATERS. Mr. Leonard, do you have a contract? Mr. LEONARD. No, we do not. Chairwoman WATERS. You do, Ms. Frisbee. Ms. FRISBEE. We don’t have a contract— Chairwoman WATERS. No. Ms. FRISBEE. —with financial institutions. We— Chairwoman WATERS. Your money is directly from the Federal Government to do this kind of work. So the contracts that have been worked out with some nonprofits, as was mentioned today, does not include any of you in the room today. Did they ask you? Does anybody come to you and say, ‘‘We would like to do a contract with you’’? No? Ms. TWOMEY. Not that I am aware of. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00090 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 85 Chairwoman WATERS. ACORN, do you have a contract? Ms. BURNIE. I don’t believe so, no. Chairwoman WATERS. ACORN may be working on some of them? Mr. CASTRO. Richard Castro, NeighborWorks America. Chairwoman WATERS. Please state your name and who you represent. Mr. CASTRO. NeighborWorks America. Chairwoman WATERS. So NeighborWorks has a contract? Mr. CASTRO. With one of our organizations. They are all autonomous. NeighborWorks organization in Sacramento is NeighborWorks Home Ownership Center Sacramento, and they are working on a contract with HomeEq. Chairwoman WATERS. Okay. Thank you very much. I am going to turn the questioning over to Ms. Richardson. Ms. RICHARDSON. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Mr. Smith. Mr. SMITH. I hope you feel better. Ms. RICHARDSON. Thank you. Your mortgage brokers that are part of your association, have they received information about some of the products that are available, modifications, workout scenarios, things like that, so if they have people that they have worked with to get these loans come to them, do they have this information readily available of what some of the options—maybe they could recommend that they followup with these various providers? Mr. SMITH. Yes, we do. Our advisors—and what—and our Preserving Home Ownership Initiative Program, the individuals are licensed brokers, and they have gone through training. Ms. Mary Harmon is our consumer—is our community services chair, who is the director of that program. Myself and her and several other members of our association have been trained by Freddie Mac through the Credit Smart Program, and we are abreast of all of the different loss mitigation techniques and programs that are available. So when we sit down with a customer, we can effectively advise them in the right direction to go based on current practices and programs that are available. Ms. RICHARDSON. Not a specific department, but are all of your brokers aware of those options? Mr. SMITH. I am sorry. Say that again. Ms. RICHARDSON. All of your individual members, are they aware? Mr. SMITH. I couldn’t say that all of them would, but I can tell you that information is readily disseminated on a regular basis from our State organization, and that they have access to that information via the web and by telephone from our State organization. Ms. RICHARDSON. And with the licensing that takes place, how much of it is spent actually talking about foreclosures? Mr. SMITH. Well, we say licensing—that is two different regimes. I think I misunderstand your question. Ms. RICHARDSON. When your members take a test to have a license, of that test component, how much of it would you say covers actual foreclosures? VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00091 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 86 Mr. SMITH. I haven’t renewed my license in the last couple of years, but the continuing education requirements by the Department of Consumer Affairs is changing. There is a 40-hour, I believe, consumer protection piece that has different modules, and consumer protection is one of the items that this would come under. Ms. RICHARDSON. Madam Chairwoman, that might be something we want to consider. I did something similar with this with the Department of Motor Vehicles. It was looking at the various licensing departments and requiring that a larger portion be spent in terms of actual counseling and understanding the foreclosure side, what the termination options are, etc., that that be a part of the licensing program itself, because they have to increase the amount that they provide. Mr. Arnold, your real estate agents who are members of the California Real Estate Association, would you—how many of them do you think know about specific options that some of these providers have? Mr. ARNOLD. Well, not a lot of them. In fact, so many of them are new licensees, and so CAR has—we are teaching foreclosure prevention as well as counseling. We have added two classes to that this year because of the fact that so many people are foreclosing. So we have to educate our members. And, really, one of the problems that we see is the fact that these members have never experienced a market like this. Most of the Realtors have come in over the last 5 or 6 years. We have doubled the amount of licensees that we have had, and so not—not like myself that has experience in loss mitigation, foreclosures, and short sales. They don’t know it. But CAR, because we are a trade organization, we want to educate our membership, so we do have—currently have classes and we have had it at—I believe at NAR, we had it at our CAR meeting, so we are consistently talking about this, so we can educate our membership. Ms. RICHARDSON. Okay. Mr. Smith? Mr. SMITH. I would like to dovetail off his answer. I have some information that may be able to give a little bit more global perspective of it. As of fiscal year June of 2007, there are currently 537,038 licensees in the State of California; 147,171 are brokers, 389,867 are sales persons that are licensed persons like myself. Approximately 31,000 of those brokers are engaged in mortgage activities in the State of California. Ms. RICHARDSON. Okay. And then, Ms. Clark, Ms. Twomey, Ms. Frisbee, and Ms. Burnie, we are fortunate enough—I want to say thank you, that some of the earlier panelists actually stayed to hear the continuing testimony, so we appreciate that. Do you have any suggestions that you could provide to these providers themselves, the financial institutions? And I see the Governor’s office is also still here as well. Any suggestions you could give to them of how we could better outreach to the direct consumer themselves? When I hear things like making 18 million calls and we have reached 2.2, that is 10 percent, that is not great. So of the people that you are interacting with, what would you recommend that they consider in terms of their outreach to increase that number? VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00092 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 87 Ms. TWOMEY. I am happy to respond, Congresswoman. I think one of the problems is that there is this outreach that is going on, but, as I said before, when the consumer calls back, they can’t get anywhere. And so I am not sure where the disconnect is, but it seems to me what we are hearing is, ‘‘I called my servicer, and I ended up in voice mail. And I called them,’’ you know, however many times, or ‘‘I couldn’t get someone to give me information.’’ And so I think the outreach is good if the back end of the piece is there, which is when the person actually responds to the outreach there is someone there that can answer the questions that the borrower has. Ms. RICHARDSON. And how do people know how to reach you, your organization? Ms. TWOMEY. Our organization works primarily with legal services organizations, government agencies, and private attorneys who are representing low-income homeowners. And we have published a series of books on consumer issues. Ms. RICHARDSON. Anyone else want to respond? Ms. FRISBEE. Yes. We just feel that the lenders have to be more flexible. They have to really tailor their work to the individual situation. We are finding that people are calling a little bit earlier, but usually, you know, they are already 60 days behind and they are just told, ‘‘There is nothing we can do.’’ So this has to change. Ms. BURNIE. I am happy with the testimony that was brought out today, but I just think that we need more funding and more ways to bring the information to the community. Ms. TWOMEY. I want to add one more thing, which is I think this week the OTS recently announced that it was going to offer financial incentives for servicers to do workout arrangements, and that would potentially deal with some of the problems that we heard earlier about the costs that servicers incur in trying to do workouts, and then sometimes passing those costs along to the borrowers. And so maybe a proposal like that would help incentivize servicers to actually contact those borrowers and then do loan workouts with them. Ms. RICHARDSON. Madam Chairwoman, I just want to say—I think this is our last panel, so I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you again for having this hearing here. I think there is no better place than California to get a sense of what is happening in the wave across the United States. We applaud your efforts and look forward to working with you to resolve this issue. Thank you. Chairwoman WATERS. Well, thank you very much. I would like to thank all of our members who participated today, and, Ms. Richardson, I would like to thank you for staying through our last panel here. I would like to thank all of our panelists. I would like to thank our citizens who came to learn more about this and find out what we can all do collectively. I would just like to say to our panelists and to our homeowners that I am attempting to approach this in a thoughtful manner. I am attempting to try and determine what we can do working with the financial institutions and the loan initiators. I must say that I am not happy with what I am hearing as of today has been the response. VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00093 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 88 I am not happy with the pace of the response. I am not happy with our Federal regulators. And I do not think that you are going to see a lot of money coming from the government to encourage servicers to do the right thing. One of the things I do not wish to do is to get in a running battle with the financial institutions, with the servicers, nor do I wish to be in the additional position of not only doing my legislative work, but doing organizing. The financial institutions, these loan initiators better step up to the plate or we are going to put a lot of heat from the street on them. As I have come to understand about the banking community in particular is one thing they don’t want is a crowd outside the door demanding anything. But if we have to do that, we are going to have to do that. This crisis is overwhelming and scary, and it really should not be happening. We all have responsibility in this, and I accept my responsibility as a Member of Congress. As a Member of Congress, we should demand more of our regulators. They should see this stuff coming down the pipe. There is no way that we are spending the amount of money that we are spending on all of these agencies that are supposed to be doing oversight and auditing, and all of this, and they didn’t know that these exotic products had hit the street. So the Federal Government, Members of Congress, loan initiators at every level, no matter where you are, should have seen this. This stuff enriched a lot of people on the front end. A lot of people made money, and the investors are sitting back there just waiting to rake it all in. And so everybody has to take responsibility on this, and we may have to step outside the box to make it happen. I thank you for participating. I thank you for all that we have learned today from you, and we have some additional legislative possibilities here based on the information that we have received. Let me just say that I will note that some members may have additional questions for this panel, which they may wish to submit in writing. And without objection, the hearing record will remain open for 30 days for members to submit written questions to these witnesses, and to place their responses in the record. Let me also say that the following organizations and individuals have submitted written statements which shall be included in the record: the NAACP and our distinguished colleague, Mr. Lantos, who was unable to join us today. These statements, without objection, will be made a part of the record. I am reminded that we have assistance that is available in the next room. Some people who have come today have already sat with some of our nonprofit organizations that are taking the information. Ms. Frisbee, you had mentioned that. They are still available as we close down this panel today, and we would encourage anybody who is in the audience who would like to have some assistance to please avail yourself of the opportunity that is being offered. Also, we would like you to help us get the word out. They can call our office. They can call the office of any of our members who are participating. We will have information about the nonprofits that have some arrangements. Those who don’t have arrangements VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00094 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 89 that just do this work, we will make that information available to everyone. I want to thank you, and this hearing is concluded. Thank you very much. [Whereupon, at 3:25 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.] VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00095 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00096 Fmt 6633 Sfmt 6633 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE APPENDIX November 30, 2007 (91) VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00097 Fmt 6601 Sfmt 6601 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00098 Fmt 6601 Sfmt 6601 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 40433.001 92 VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00099 Fmt 6601 Sfmt 6601 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 40433.002 93 VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00100 Fmt 6601 Sfmt 6601 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 40433.003 94 VerDate 0ct 09 2002 18:38 Feb 21, 2008 Jkt 040433 PO 00000 Frm 00101 Fmt 6601 Sfmt 6601 K:\DOCS\40433.TXT HFIN PsN: TERRIE 40433.004 95 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