Citigroup enacts moratorium on foreclosures

Legal News Line Nov. 11, 2008, 11:39am

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- Citigroup became the latest financial giant to take measures designed to assist troubled homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure, according to published reports.

Company officials announced late Monday it won't initiate or complete a foreclosure sale on an eligible borrower trying to stay in their homes that meet specific criteria. The home must be the primary residence, the owner must be working in good faith to make the payments and also must have sufficient income to make mortgage payments on a reworked loan.

The company said it would devote a sales team of 600 employees to work with the borrowers who meet the aforementioned criteria. Loan modifications could include some combination of adjusted interest rates, reduced principle or enacting longer terms on the loan.

The company said it believes more than half a million customers, or roughly one-third its total base of mortgages, will be eligible for some type of assistance.

The company said that since early last year, it has already helped about 370,000 families avoid foreclosure.

The move by Citi is the latest in a nationwide push to reduce foreclosures and correct the struggling housing economy. According to the latest figures, roughly 4 million homeowners in the country are at least one payment behind.

Bank of America agreed to start its own loan counseling program on Dec. 1, as part of terms in a settlement of lawsuits brought by attorneys general in California and Illinois against Countrywide Financial Corp. for predatory lending practices that included incentives for employees who sold riskier and more expensive loans to customers.

Bank of America purchased Countrywide on July 1.

Advocacy groups in California that have urged for a temporary freeze on foreclosures have been critical of the Countrywide settlement, saying it would not allow for many loans to be reworked and that it overly rewards the investors who hold the mortgages.

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