Californians continue to receive the bulk of the relief from the $25 billion national mortgage settlement thanks to a side deal its attorney general struck with the nation's three largest home lenders.
On Thursday, the California Attorney General's Office released its own analysis of the national report and it said that the state, which has about 12% of the total U.S. population, has received 41% of the national funds.
The reason: at the same time the national mortgage settlement was signed, California Attorney General Kamala Harris reached a deal with Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase that guaranteed her state would receive a hefty share of the national settlement's proceeds.
And that is exactly what happened, according to the analysis by University of California-Irvine law professor Katherine Porter, who is responsible for monitoring banks' compliance with the California agreement.
Californians have so far received $16.9 billion in consumer relief under the settlement, according to the national monitor's report. By the end of March, that number should rise to around $20.5 billion, according to Porter's analysis, and it could continue to increase.
As is the case elsewhere, the bulk of the relief is in the form of short sales and forgiveness of second-lien debt, but the analysis also shows that lenders are offering substantially more principal reductions in California than in other states.
Porter's office analyzed the portfolios of Wells Fargo, Chase and B of A and found that for each of those three banks, around 10% to 13% of their first-lien mortgage loans that were either delinquent or in foreclosure were located in California.
Yet at B of A and Chase, more than 30% of the first-lien principal reductions under the national settlement have occurred in California. For Wells Fargo, a whopping 60% of the first-lien principal reductions have benefited California homeowners, according to the analysis.
"We think the evidence is that the banks understand the importance of the California commitment," Porter said.