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HAMP Permanent Modifications Picking Up: BarCap

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[Update 1: Clarifies HAMP eligibility] Modification rates picked up over December and January as servicers converted more trials into permanent modifications under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), according to a report from Barclays Capital. The US Treasury Department launched HAMP in March 2009 to allocate capped incentives to servicers for the modification of loans on the verge of foreclosure. According to the latest HAMP progress report from the Treasury, servicers provided more than 66,000 permanent modifications through December. Participating servicers receive more than $35bn in total capped incentives, but the program could reach as high as $50bn. Modification rates “turned a corner” in October 2009, according to BarCap analysts, congruent with the rise in HAMP permanent conversion rates. The Treasury recently changed document guidelines for the servicers that go into effect June 1, 2010. After that date, borrowers seeking help through the program must provide certain documentation to enter into a trial modification. At the start of the program, servicers collected the documents during the three-month trial plan, creating a lag time in the permanent conversion rate. Out of the more than 1m borrowers in HAMP trials, 34% have been on private-label securitized loans – meaning the loans are not held by Fannie Mae (FNM), Freddie Mac (FRE) or Ginnie Mae. After assuming a similar conversion rate for non-agency loans, analysts found 22,600 non-agency permanent modifications under HAMP. “This ties in closely with the 25,000 loans modified in past two months that we see using our custom logic on Loan Performance. A higher number based on our logic also makes sense to us as some servicers have non-HAMP modification programs,” according to the report. Barclays confirmed the numbers by looking at the independent servicer Ocwen Financial Corp., which has a large portion of its portfolio in non-agency deals. Ocwen provided 5,332 permanent modifications through December, or 71.7% of the more than 7,000 loans in HAMP trials, according to the Treasury report. According to Barclays Capital estimates, Ocwen has 5,700 loan modifications in the past three months versus the 5,332 reported by the Treasury. Servicers are modifying more modifications for delinquent borrowers, according to the report. In the past, modifications went to more current borrowers. Under HAMP, current borrowers in imminent default are eligible for the program, and servicers might be migrating toward those loans as pressure intensifies to reach the 3-to-4m borrowers targeted for HAMP, according to the report. Fannie Mae recently released new guidelines to servicers to begin gauging imminent default risk for HAMP. “The rise in modification rates due to HAMP trial-to-permanent conversions has been restricted to a few smaller servicers so far. We expect mod rates to further increase in the coming months as the bigger servicers start converting the large chunk of loans in trial mods,” according to the report. Write to Jon Prior.

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