Category Archives for "Short Sale versus Loan Modification"

Worried foreclosure is coming?

LPS Data Shows GSE Foreclosure Starts Are Accelerating

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are beginning to initiate foreclosures at a faster pace.

According to a new study from Lender Processing Services (LPS), GSE foreclosure starts have been accelerating and are currently at all-time highs. From May to June, foreclosures initiated by Fannie and Freddie jumped 21 percent.

The GSEs’ prime borrowers are performing the worst. Foreclosure rates among the agencies’ prime loans have soared nearly 400 percent since January 2008, with a notable hastening tracked over the last two months, LPS reports. That increase is second only to the swell seen in non-agency “jumbo” mortgages, for more than $729,750.

LPS says the recent momentum in GSE foreclosure starts coincides with Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) cancellations, with most of the volume concentrated in the very late stages of delinquency (six-plus months).

The latest HAMP statistics from the Treasury showed an extremely elevated number of cancellations from trial plans, as many borrowers who received temporary modifications have not been able to verify their income or have missed trial payments.

As of the end of June, 520,814 HAMP trials had been cancelled – more than have been converted to permanent status. In addition, 8,823 permanent modifications have been cancelled under the federal program.

In contrast, LPS says foreclosure starts have remained relatively stable over the last several months for the rest of the industry. The company puts the overall foreclosure rate as of the end of June at 3.65 percent, but notes that foreclosure inventories are still elevated.

According to LPS’ market data, total foreclosure starts for 2010 are at 1,456,000. That stat is lower than 1,682,000 for the same period in 2009, but up from 1,245,000 in the first half of 2008.

Bailout Watchdogs Call Mortgage Program a Bust

 Bailout watchdogs on Wednesday raised a red flag over the Obama administration’s program for helping homeowners avoid foreclosure, saying the multibillion-dollar fund is not working and the Treasury Department refuses to fix it. 

Warning that the inefficiencies could hold the economy back, the officials told a Senate panel that changes should be made and that Treasury needs to come clean. One official called the program “one of the greatest failures in transparency and accountability” in the $700 billion bailout. 

A $50 billion fund was carved out of the Wall Street bailout for the mortgage program. The housing market being a root cause of the 2008 economic crisis, the money was pitched as a way to help millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure and get the economy back on track. 

But a fraction of that money, $248 million, has been spent. 

Elizabeth Warren, chairwoman of the congressional TARP Oversight Panel, said that for every one family that wins a permanent mortgage modification, “10 more have been moved out through foreclosure.” 

“This is a program that’s just — it’s behind the curve,” she told the panel on Wednesday. 

Special inspector general for the financial bailouts Neil Barofsky said the program has not “put an appreciable dent in foreclosure filings” during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the $700 billion bank bailout. He also said the Treasury Department has ignored earlier demands that it set clearer goals for the program.  A Treasury official said Wednesday that the bailout program has had “a major effect on the ability of people to stay in their homes.” The official argued that before the program was launched, it was not designed to prevent all foreclosures and not designed to help investors or speculators — or those with vacation homes or million-dollar homes.

More foreclosures could force down home prices and further hurt the ailing housing industry. 

Part of the problem with the Home Affordable Modification Program has been that plenty of homeowners are being accepted into a trial period, but relatively few are having their loan changes made permanent. Warren said just 165,000 have moved into permanent modifications with help from the TARP program, though more than that have advanced through a similar program administered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

Barofsky said Treasury is giving mortgage companies too much leeway to decide which homeowners will qualify for a program to reduce the principal balance of their mortgages

The program relies on voluntary cooperation from mortgage companies, Warren said. She said many of the mortgage debt collectors make more money when they foreclose than they do when helping homeowners. 

“We can’t have a program in which, in effect, we put incentives on the table paid for by the taxpayers to say, ‘Please do the right thing here,'” she said. “We have a crisis, and the consequences of not having cooperation from the servicers … (is) felt by this entire economy . We need a program with far more urgency and some real teeth in it.” 

Article contributed by Fox News

 

Owner’s Choices: Short Sale versus Loan Modification

Recent legislation encourages loan modification in an effort to decrease the number of foreclosures. If you are meeting with homeowners, see if one of their goals is to keep their home.

The new rules on loan modification provide relief for people who have had financial difficulty, but remained current on their payments. There are also some new programs for those in imminent danger of foreclosure, and those who are already up to 60 days late on their payments.

These programs are only for a family’s principal residence. It does not apply to second homes or investor owned properties. Loans that were originated before January 1, 2009 are eligible for modification.

Loan servicers will follow a series of steps specified in the programs to reduce the homeowners’ monthly payments in order to first bring the amount of the payments down to 38 percent of gross monthly income. As a second step, the government will share in the obligation to lower the payments even further to 31 percent of borrowers’ income. The first step in the process involves reducing the interest rate down to as low as two percent. Next, the term of the loan can be extended to up to 40 years. As a last resort, the principal of the loan can be reduced. The homeowner’s monthly payment includes principal, interest, taxes, insurance, flood insurance, homeowner’s association dues and/or condominium fees.

There is a payment to the loan servicer from the government to encourage the completion of this process. Also, if the borrower makes the mortgage payments on time for three years, there is a principal reduction payment by the government to the lender as a reward to the borrower for staying current on the financing.

To qualify, the borrower must still be employed and show the ability to make the payments after the adjustment. The loan can be well over the 80% of the value of the home that is required for refinancing. In fact the loan can be over 100% of the value of the home, so that people who want to keep their homes, even if it is worth less than the amount of the loan, can get their payments in line and stay in their home. The borrower gets only one loan modification, so it better be right the first time, because there will be no second time.

Loan servicers will use a net present value (NPV) test as a standard to judge each loan that is at risk of imminent default or is at least 60 days delinquent. The NPV test compares the net present value of cash flows with and without modification. If the test is positive – meaning that the net present value of expected cash flow is greater with a modification – the servicer must modify the loan. If the NPV test returns a negative result, loan modification is optional.

To see the Guidelines issued by the US Treasury, click here. For details on the Making Home Affordable Plan with all of its modification opportunities, click here. For all the details on the Financial Stability Plan that is part of this initiative, click here. Executives from Housing and Urban Development emphasized that access to the loan modification program is free and they warned homeowners to beware of rescue scams that claim to charge a fee for a government modification

For owners who have lost their jobs, this program will not work. If the owner needs to sell the home to move to another area, or if there are other personal issues such as divorce, these programs will not change the choice of pursuing a short sale. But for families who want to refinance out of a bad loan but have been prevented from doing so because the value of the home has fallen or the loan qualification requirements have become too severe, this new program should work well. In the next few weeks the loan servicers should be set up to review applications for loan modification.

For people who want to stay in their homes, this could be a godsend, if they qualify. There is no moving, no tax consequences, no effect on credit scores and no emotional trauma. For those who have to move, the short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure or foreclosure itself are still the choices.