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CFPB Official Blasts Servicers

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Attendees at a mortgage servicing conference this week might have gotten more than they bargained for when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s No. 2 stepped up to the podium.

The Mortgage Bankers Association is hosting its National Mortgage Servicing Conference & Expo until Friday in Orlando, Fla.,

Among speakers scheduled to present Thursday at the event was Steven Antonakes, who is the deputy director of the CFPB.

Before his time at the CFPB, Antonakes spent time as a bank examiner and at the Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

Antonakes said that in 2006, he convened a housing summit in Massachusetts to bring together housing counselors, industry officials and government officials in response to the alarming rate that delinquencies and foreclosures were rising.

The regulator explained that servicers’ low-cost models were no match for the tsunami of delinquencies that hit.

Antonakes outlined a series of CFPB requirements designed to address servicing deficiencies.

Communication was cited as one of the biggest deficiencies.

“Nearly eight years have passed and I remain deeply disappointed by the lack of progress the mortgage servicing industry has made,” he said.

Antonakes noted that around 4,900 of the 20,000 complaints received by the CFPB in January were about mortgages.

He said that servicers have had more than a year to implement new servicing rules.

For its part, the CFPB has been issuing notices and rules and addressing problem issues.

Antonakes expressed frustration with servicers and noted that it has felt like “Groundhog Day” with servicing for too long.

“So let me very clearly lay out our expectations. In these very early days, technical issues should simply be identified and corrected,” he said. “More substantively: We expect you to conduct outreach to ensure that all consumers in default know their options. We expect you to assess loss mitigation applications with care, so that consumers who qualify under your own standards get the loss mitigation that saves them — and the investor — from foreclosure.”

He added that the fundamental rules of servicing have changed forever.

Antonakes said he didn’t expect a standing ovation when he leaves the podium.

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