Nine months after the program launched, only four percent of homeowners participating in the government’s Making Home Affordable program have successfully had their mortgages modified to reduce their monthly payments and make it possible for them to stave off foreclosure.
Of more than 780,000 homeowners participating in the program’s trial phase, as of the end of November some 31,382 have made it through the program, which includes a three month or longer trial period to be sure that homeowners can make reduced mortgage payments, according to the Treasury Department’s monthly report on the program released today. Treasury had never previously released the number of borrowers who have made it through the program in its monthly report on HAMP.
Only twenty days remain to convert 375,000 borrowers who have begun trial modifications and are scheduled to convert to permanent modifications by the end of the year. On November 30, the Administration launched a month-long conversion campaign to put pressure on servicers to increase the numbers moving from the trial to the permanent modification phase by the end of December. In its report today, it said “Servicers need to do their part to help borrowers complete the process and get to the finish line.”
“According to servicer reports, most borrowers in modifications are meeting their responsibilities to make their payments,” the Treasury report said. However, fears are growing that large numbers are failing and will lose their homes to foreclosure.
In congressional testimony Tuesday, executives with two of the nation’s largest banks, Chase and Bank of America, said that as many as 85 percent of delinquent mortgages are failing the Administration’s loan modification process because homeowners haven’t made trial payments or have failed to supply the necessary documentation to support their claims.
“While there have been stories of servicers making it difficult for borrowers to submit the necessary documentation, one has to consider the flip side of the argument. Borrowers may claim servicers are making it difficult to obtain documentation when, in fact, they may just simply be hoping that the permanent modification will be approved without full documentation,” said Anthony Sanders, professor of real estate finance at George Mason University, at the hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.
“Our challenge now is to keep the pressure on,” said HUD Senior Advisor for Mortgage Finance William Apgar. “HUD approved counselors are working with borrowers to ensure they are doing their part to transition into sustainable permanent modifications and we will ensure that servicers convert as many of those modifications by the end of the year as scheduled as they are scheduled to.”
Servicers who have converted the highest percentage of borrowers to permanently modified loans are Saxon Mortgage Services (44 percent), Citicorp (43 percent), GMAC Mortgage (39 percent) and Aurora Loan Services (33 percent).