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California Overview
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August 8, 2012

California  a big state with millions of individual homeowners.  Some 37 million Americans call California home—and many of them own homes. Fully one tenth of the state’s population lives in Los Angeles, the City of Angels, and one of the most famous cities in the world thanks to the concentration of movie stars and production companies in and around Hollywood.

Paying for homes is helped by the state having an enormous economy—one of the 10 largest in the world were it a separate country. Food and wine production are helped by fertile soil and a long growing season. Manufacturing—including in the legendary electronics hub of Silicon Valley in northern California—and movie production add to the state’s financial clout.

Thus, Californians are big into real estate and have a lot invested in their properties. As of 2012, they also have more protection against the loss of it. They have it in writing.

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the state’s new Homeowner’s Bill of Rights law, which makes foreclosure proceedings more transparent. The law is California’s response to the National Mortgage Settlement, a federal response to questionable homeowner foreclosure activity by the country’s five largest mortgage servicers.

The law comes after the wave of foreclosures that hit the country during the financial collapse that was largely caused by frenetic subprime mortgage activity. That industry trend, in turn, was spurred by the federal government’s push to get as many Americans in homes as possible, even those with borderline incomes whose purchase of a home was not wedded to sound financial circumstances.

The law specifically prohibits mortgage-holders from simultaneously processing a loan modification and continuing foreclosure proceedings. In effect, the foreclosure process must halt while the loan modification request is considered in good faith. The law also streamlines negotiations so that homeowners deal with a single person in an agency, and introduces rules that ensure a homeowner is being properly notified of all loan-related developments.