The $26 billion-foreclosure settlement unveiled Thursday is expected to help many borrowers who are struggling to make their loan payments, owe more than their homes are worth or have lost their homes to foreclosure.
But the rules of the deal are complicated and banks have three years to meet their obligations.
The questions and answers below should help borrowers figure out if they qualify for help and what to expect from the process.
Who does the settlement cover?
The settlement covers borrowers who have loans that are serviced by one of the five big banks: Ally Financial Inc./GMAC Mortgage, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. These banks handle payments on 55 percent of US mortgages, according to Inside Mortgage Finance.
My mortgage is with one of these banks. How do I know if I qualify for help?
It's going to take some time to figure that out because the settlement has so many wrinkles.
What if my loan isn't with one of the banks?
For now, the settlement covers only the five big banks. Government officials hope to strike a similar deal with nine additional banks.
How long is it going to take for me to get help?
Government officials advise borrowers to be patient. Over the next 30 to 60 days, settlement negotiators will pick an administrator to handle the logistics of the deal. Over the next six to nine months, the administrator, attorneys general and mortgage servicers will work to identify which borrowers get help. Servicers expect to begin reaching out to borrowers in the coming weeks, but they have three years to provide the required help.
How will I find out if I qualify?
Borrowers will get letters from their mortgage company. Each of the five servicers also has a website and a toll-free number for borrowers to get more information.
Government officials are encouraging borrowers to contact their mortgage company to see if they qualify for aid.
I've already lost my home to foreclosure. Can I get any help?
Borrowers who were foreclosed on between 2008 and 2011 are eligible for cash payments. The amount of the payment will depend on how many people file claims, but is expected to be around $1,500 to $2,000.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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