An Obama Administration official and a Seattle attorney squared off at the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators annual meeting in San Francisco, with one claiming that "dual track" servicing has all but ended but the other saying that's not the case, at least not in the Puget Sound area.

Thomas Heinemann of the Treasury Department's home ownership preservation office told the conference that the Administration's Making Home Affordable Programs (HAMP) has set the standard for mortgage servicers when it comes to handling delinquent borrowers and serve as the framework by which most servicers now operate.

"The legacy of the program we've built is that it has become an informal benchmark," said Heinemann, who serves as Treasury's liaison with industry, advocacy and local government organizations. "We've pushed the industry to do things it was woefully unprepared to deal with."

Specifically, he said HAMP has played a leading role in stopping dual track servicing in which foreclosure proceedings continue against borrowers who are in line to have their loans modified.

But during the question and answer session that followed the government official's talk, Melissa Huelsman, a Washington state lawyer whose practice focuses on civil litigation on behalf of consumers in the areas of predatory lending, wrongful loan servicing and foreclosure, mortgage fraud and foreclosure rescue scams, questioned the Treasury Department's statistics.

Warning state regulators not to believe Treasury's figures and calling on them not to abdicate their traditional consumer protection role to the Feds, Huelsman said she's "not seeing" any changes in the way servicers are treating their customers.

"When they say dual track servicing has ended, it's not true," the legal crusader said. "There's no empirical evidence that anything is any different."

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