The New York banking department has reached an agreement with Morgan Stanley to implement new mortgage servicing standards after signing a similar deal with Goldman Sachs in September.
Benjamin M. Lawsky, the state's superintendent of financial services, said in a press release Thursday that Morgan Stanley and its mortgage subsidiary, Saxon Mortgage Services , had agreed to adopt the same new standards agreed to by Goldman Sachs Bank, Ocwen Financial and Litton Loan Servicing in September. The standards were a condition of Goldman's sale of Litton, its mortgage subsidiary, to Ocwen. (Ocwen recently agreed to buy Saxon as well.)
Two other servicers, American Home Mortgage, owned by W.L. Ross & Co., and Vericrest Financial, also agreed to adopt the new servicing standards.
The companies agreed to a series of changes in their servicing practices, including staffing and training requirements aimed at ending robo-signing. They also agreed to withdraw pending foreclosure actions that include robo-signed affidavits, and pledged to provide a single point of contact to borrowers who are seeking a loan modification or in foreclosure.
The agreements do not preclude any investigations of past practices or release any claims or actions.
"Today's agreements are an important step forward in cleaning up some of the mortgage industry's most troubling practices," Lawsky said in a press release. "These new reforms are now spreading out into the industry at a time when homeowners truly need relief in the wake of the financial crisis. We will continue to do everything we can to make these reforms the norm in the servicing industry."