Posts Tagged ‘HAMP’

HAMP Modifications May Get a Boost

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Mortgage servicers continue to modify 25,000 loans a month under the government’s HAMP program, but that pace could pick up later this summer as new changes to the effort kick in.

To date, servicers have completed roughly 930,000 modifications under the Home Affordable Modification Program with 760,000 homeowners still current on those loans.

Recently unveiled changes could open the door for 1.5 million struggling homeowners (and real estate investors) to be eligible for a HAMP modification, according to analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

The Treasury is working on guidance to allow modifications of single-family loans on rental properties for the first time.

The new guidance will relax HAMP’s debt-to-income cutoff, reflecting borrower obligations to make payments on second liens and medical bills. HAMP currently excludes borrowers with mortgage payments that are less than 31% of their income.

Treasury also is increasing incentive payments to investors, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — when they agree to reduce the principal amount on a delinquent loans.

KBW managing director Bose George is skeptical the GSE regulator will allow principal reductions on Fannie/Freddie loans. However, principal reductions would make more underwater borrowers eligible for a HAMP modification.

Treasury wants to issue the new HAMP guidelines this month, but stronger modification results might not be seen until August or September.

“Treasury expects that homeowners may be evaluated under the new program beginning in May for trials starting June 1,” the department said in releasing its December report on HAMP activities Monday.

The new HAMP report shows 79,300 borrowers are currently in payment trials. In December, 23,300 borrowers completed the three-month trials and were granted a permanent modification. In November, servicers completed 26,900 permanent HAMP modifications

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Reality vs. Partisan Pundits. No Contest

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The Administrations well meant efforts to make it possible for many homeowners to avoid foreclosure has stirred up a hornet’s nest among some media commentators.

The Plan described at http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/ uses up to $75 billion to provide incentives to holders of FANIE MAE and FREDDY MAC loans to work with Borrowers to refinance, or modify existing problem loans, rather than simply go ahead and foreclose.

This is a classic version of the glass ½ full, or ½ empty. Typically, in our current exclusively partisan media, the answer is dictated solely by political affiliation regardless of the facts.

This is unfortunate because there are legitimate reasons for supporting, opposing, or, better still, improving the current process.

One the one hand it is a legitimate effort to try to help Joe Public get through a situation brought about by failures in our economic systems. Given the Trillions of dollars being ploughed back to the very people who caused this situation, the $75 Billion allocated to this program is peanuts.

On the other hand there is a valid argument to be made that subsidizing refinances, or modifying problem loans, is simply putting off an inevitable final default. This can often hurt the very people it purports to help by having them use up scarce funds in a doomed attempt to save an impossible situation, rather than simply give the property back to the Lender and getting  on with life.

The December report on the status of this program provides ample ammunition for both schools of thought, and the regulators have shifted emphasis to try to deal with the problems showing up.

The summary shows that 728,000 loan modifications are already in the required trial phase. Unfortunately only 31,382 have completed that phase and have become permanent, saving homeowners an average of $550 per month. The low rate at which Trials become Permanent  is a serious problem raising concerns that a significant number of these modifications are simply allowing the Banks to delay acknowledging the number of bad loans on their books and to avoid taking the losses on to their Balance Sheets.

If that is true then the inevitable result will be a longer period of foreclosed properties coming to market as these failed modifications fall apart.

As with most things there is not a simple answer, but on balance I come down on the side of giving the program a fair shot. This is based mostly on my view that given the countless billions we have poured into supporting the financial institutions that caused the problems,  a little effort to give similar assistance to the victims is not unreasonable.