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HAMP continues aiding borrowers

Three firms still fall short in meeting servicing goals

[UPDATE: JPMorgan's response added]

The government’s Home Affordable Modification Program continues chugging away even though three servicers received less-than-stellar marks on key areas of borrower outreach and servicing, the Treasury said Monday.

But HAMP overall continues to succeed, the government noted. The Obama Administration Housing Scorecard came out this week, revealing the latest data on how many homeowners obtained aid through government housing programs — namely HAMP.

Of all the non-GSE loans eligible for principal reductions entering HAMP in October, 69% actually received a principal reduction feature, the scorecard said.  And when studying all of the homeowners placed into HAMP permanent modifications after receiving principal reductions, it’s clear the program to date has granted about $12.4 billion in loan write-downs.

Overall, more than 1.2 million homeowners have received mods through HAMP, and the median first-lien mortgage rate of those going through the initiative has fallen by $547 each month. That’s about 40% of the median before-modification payment and a total savings of $23.5 billion in monthly mortgage payments to date, the Obama administration said.

But servicers working with borrowers on potential modifications are still falling short in some cases.

"While the country as a whole has made significant progress, there is still room for improvement for servicers and the Treasury is committed to applying pressure on the mortgage servicing industry to improve servicer behavior," said Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary Tim Bowler. "Although the housing market has largely recovered, there are still homeowners struggling and it is key that we continue to help them."

Since the start of HAMP, the Treasury has been studying how well servicers handle borrowers looking for solutions.

They are evaluated on everything from HAMP program implementation, how well they identify and contact borrowers, and the servicer's ability to offer quality homeowner evaluations while managing and reporting accurate data. The Treasury recently updated its servicing metrics to tighten controls around the HAMP program.

Three servicers in the third quarter were cited as still requiring minor servicing improvements. Another three servicers ranked as needing to show moderate improvement, while one servicer was found to require substantial improvement, the administration pointed out.

This report comes on the heels of the National Mortgage Settlement monitor’s report, which showed at least three of the major servicers – Citi (C), Bank of America (BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) – not complying with all servicing metrics laid out as part of the mult-billion dollar national mortgage servicing settlement.  This is a separate report from the Treasury's latest analysis of servicers.

"We proactively addressed the monitor's findings and are pleased that he determined that our corrective action plan is complete," JPMorgan said in a statement. "While we satisfied our consumer relief requirements in May, we continue to provide mortgage relief to struggling families across the country."

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