Nearly two years after the “robo-signing” scandal forced a reboot of the nation’s home-foreclosure process, mortgage servicers have begun the hard work of buffing up their industry’s tarnished image after years of making life miserable for Americans struggling to hold on to their homes. Changing the industry’s bad behavior will be a slow and painful process for servicers who collect mortgage payments and manage the accounts on behalf of lenders, however. The inappropriate fees, mishandled accounts, shoddy paperwork and wrongful foreclosures that first came to light after the 2007 housing crisis were long-standing problems that had gone largely unnoticed for years. Whether it was obtaining loan modifications, arranging short sales, negotiating principal reductions or refinancing homes through the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program, mortgage servicers were more obstacle than facilitator during the housing meltdown, according to many housing advocates and consumer attorneys.
Depending on who you talk to — not much has changed.