1. Business

Florida still ranks high among states with most mortgage complaints

Published Jul. 15, 2015

The state of Florida and Bank of America stick out like sore thumbs in a new national analysis of mortgage industry complaints released Tuesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Florida ranks fourth among all states and the District of Columbia in the concentration of mortgage complaints filed between late 2011 and March 16 of this year with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Florida stands out because the other high-complaint states and D.C. are all small in population compared with the Sunshine State. Florida's high rate of 82.6 mortgage complaints per 100,000 residents is a key sign that Florida's mortgage industry woes continue to run wide and deep in the nation's third largest state.

Housing lender Bank of America, whose mortgage follies are well documented during the recent housing crisis, suffers the most total mortgage complaints in that same period with 31,123, making up about 23 percent of all mortgage complaints. Bank of America is also the most complained about company in 45 states — including Florida — and D.C.

But when adjusted for market share, the three most complained-about mortgage lenders are Ocwen, Nationstar Mortgage and Bank of America, in that order. Ocwen's share of complaints is more than four times its share of the market, ranking first by this measure, said the analysis by U.S. PIRG, a consumer group. Ocwen, based in Atlanta, calls itself a leader in servicing "high risk loans."

The vast majority of mortgage complaints (85 percent) fall into two issue categories. Problems when consumers are unable to pay (described as either loan modification, collection or foreclosure) make up 55 percent of the total. And problems making payments (categorized as loan servicing, payments or escrow account) make up 30 percent.

The CFPB, which turns 4 years old this month, has published 138,086 complaints about mortgages, the most complaints received about any financial product from December 2011 until March 16, 2015.