GMAC Mortgage launches loan mod portal

Robo-signing settlement requires similar efforts by other servicers

Loan servicer GMAC Mortgage has launched a Web portal, HomeownerConnect.org, that allows struggling borrowers to apply for loan modifications and other foreclosure alternatives online.

The site is a joint effort with Hope LoanPort, a Web-based portal launched in 2010 by the HOPE NOW Alliance of loan servicers to streamline the collection of loan modification applications. Both Homeowner Connect and Hope LoanPort are powered by IndiSoft’s RxOffice, a Web-based tool that streamlines home retention applications from at-risk borrowers.

Homeowner Connect will help GMAC Mortgage fulfill its obligations under the national mortgage settlement reached earlier this year, in the wake of allegations that loan servicers engaged in so-called "robo-signing" practices.

The $25 billion settlement mandates that each of the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers — Ally Financial Inc. (parent company of GMAC Mortgage), Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — set up an online portal linked to their primary servicing system, allowing borrowers to check the status of their loan modifications at no cost and improving communications with housing counselors.

Hope LoanPort is specifically mentioned in legal filings as a model for a "neutral, nationwide loan portal system" that could meet compliance requirements for the settlement. Hope LoanPort allows housing counselors to transmit completed foreclosure alternative applications to mortgage servicers online. More than 4,000 housing counselors in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as more than 800 mortgage servicer users, have registered with Hope LoanPort.

In addition to meeting these criteria, Homeowner Connect will provide borrowers with information about foreclosure alternatives available through both government and industry programs. GMAC Mortgage borrowers will also be able to apply for foreclosure alternatives online through the portal as well as track the status of their application and upload all required documents.

Hope LoanPort will also partner with MortgageKeeper Referral Services, an online database application that will help borrowers connect to more than 6,000 local, nonprofit and government agencies that provide assistance with employment, food, utilities and housing counseling, among other services, and may be able to put borrowers in a better position to qualify for a foreclosure alternative.

GMAC Mortgage sponsored the development of Homeowner Connect and "will proactively notify its borrowers at risk of foreclosure about the availability of this option," according to an announcement.

"GMAC Mortgage is committed to preserving homeownership whenever possible," said Dana Dillard, senior vice president of GMAC Mortgage, in a statement. "In that spirit, we’re proud to support this initiative with Hope LoanPort to provide useful tools and education to borrowers."

Hope LoanPort said it is "actively working" with other mortgage servicers to participate in Homeowner Connect after the initial rollout to GMAC Mortgage borrowers.

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