California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris during a visit last year to the East L.A. Community Corp. in Boyle Hights on a tour highlighting her work cracking down on unfair mortgage practices. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)
By Alejandro Lazo
February 27, 2012, 2:55 p.m.
Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris in a letter asked the regulator of the government-controlled mortgage titans to halt foreclosures in California until the agency has completed a “thorough, transparent analysis of whether principal reduction is in the best interests of struggling homeowners as well as taxpayers.”
It is not the first time that Harris has tangled with the giants — last year she sued the two mortgage giants after they refused to answer subpoenas regarding their mortgage and foreclosure practices. That case remains pending.
Harris has also called on Edward DeMarco, the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency that regulates Fannie and Freddie, to step down, accusing him of not doing enough for borrowers.
Harris’ request for a foreclosure pause comes on the heels of a multistate mortgage settlement that will require the nation’s largest mortgage servicers to reduce principal for certain borrowers. California has secured $12 billion in principal reduction and short sales from those banks, but Fannie and Freddie are not part of that deal.
Harris’ office sees the two giants as key to getting the housing market back on track, estimating that more than 60% of outstanding loans in the Golden State are controlled by them. But DeMarco has resisted principal reductions, which is the writing-down of mortgages of borrowers, arguing that the results of those reductions are not worth the costs.
The FHFA has overseen Fannie and Freddie since the two mortgage giants were placed under government control in 2008 as the financial crisis picked up steam. Calls to the agency were not returned.