California Housing, Foreclosure and Finance Resources
California ranks as the #1 state in number of foreclosures. For 2009, California ranked 4th among all states in foreclosure rate, an increase of 20.81% from the year before. Nationally, 2009 was the worse year for foreclosures in US history, with 2.8 million property owners receiving a foreclosure notice.
News: California Issues an Alert to Beware of Loan Modification Scam Artists
On March 20, 2009, the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) issued an alert to be aware of real estate loan modification scam artists. This alert urges consumers to work with legitimate, licensed and qualified companies and reminds consumers that although it is legal for a real estate broker to charge in advance for a loan modification service, that it must be registered with the Department of Real Estate to accept advanced fees in advance, that the DRE must issue a no object letter and the fees must be handled as trust funds.
California programs addressing the mortgage crisis
On February 20, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a 90-day moratorium on California home foreclosures on homes where the first loan was recorded between January 1, 2003, and January 1, 2008. Under the law, however, there are exemptions that allow lenders to foreclose in certain cases.
California State Senate Bill 1137 went into effect on September 8, 2008. Among other things, this bill requires that servicers contact homeowner borrowers to explore options for avoiding foreclosure on their primary residence at least 30 days before the lender files a notice of default.
Key Contacts and Information
Congresswoman Maxine Waters has advocated for reform in the mortgage industry. As an incentive to the mortgage industry, she reintroduded the Systematic Foreclosure Prevention and Mortage Modificaation Act, H.R. 37, that woulld authorize the FDIC to cover $1,000 in expenses for lenders who renegotiate more sustainable terms for the mortgages of people who are nearing foreclosure on their homes.
For more information about help available to California residents who are having trouble with their mortgages, please visit http://www.yourhome.ca.gov/mortgage-help.shtml.
Mortgage Fraud is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison, fines of up to $1 million, or both. It is illegal for a person to make any false statement regarding income, assets, debt, or matters of identification. It is also illegal to willfully overvalue any land or property in a loan and credit application for the purpose of influencing in any way the action of a financial institution. In addition to federal law, mortgage lenders are regulated by various state organizations.
If you feel that your lender or mortgage company has acted in violation of the law, you may lodge a complaint with one or more of the appropriate government entities:
California Department of Corporations (CORP):
- 1-866-ASK-CORP (1-866-275-2677)
CORP licenses and regulates Residential Mortgage Lenders (RMLs) and California Finance Lenders (CFLs), among other institutions. You may lodge a complaint by visiting http://www.corp.ca.gov/about/complaint.asp, downloading the complaint form and submitting it to the department. Please make sure to familiarize yourself with the guidelines posted at http://www.corp.ca.gov/about/complaint.asp.
California Department of Financial Institutions (DFI):
- San Francisco: 415-263-8500
- Los Angeles: 213-897-2085
- Sacramento: 916-322-5966
- San Diego: 619-682-7227
DFI is responsible for administering state laws regulating state-licensed financial institutions, such as banks, credit unions, industrial banks, among others, pursuant to the Financial Code and the Regulations of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions. For more information on how to file a complaint, please contact the appropriate office listed above.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI):
San Francisco Headquarters
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 553-7400 (24hrs.)
Los Angeles Field Office
11000 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC):
Customer Assistance Group
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3450
Houston, TX 77010-9050
The OCC regulates national banks, which are distinguished by the words “national” or “national association” or the initials “N.A.” Examples of national banks are Bank of America, N.A., City National Bank, Wachovia Bank, N.A. and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
If you would like to file a complaint about a national bank, you may use the OCC’s online complaint form at https://appsec.helpwithmybank.gov/olcc_form/(the controller’s preferred method), or you may mail or fax a complaint form accessible at http://www.helpwithmybank.gov/complaints/complaint.pdf, or in Spanish at http://www.helpwithmybank.gov/complaints/complaint_spanish.pdf.