Four years after the housing meltdown, nine of the top U.S. mortgage servicers have 12,000 employees working with distressed borrowers and another 6,000 employees aiding the process.
The Treasury made those finding in a new research report that attempts to assess how servicers are working with borrowers and implementing single-point-of-contact servicing designs to improve communications. The report is published on the Treasury's blog.
The Treasury's new snapshot looks at the practices of Bank of America, Citi Mortgage, GMAC Mortgage, Homeward Residential, JPMorgan Chase, Ocwen Loan Servicing, One West Bank, Select Portfolio Servicing and Wells Fargo.
The major servicers implemented programs to ensure borrowers have a single-point-of-contact when dealing with mortgage-related issues. Single-point-of-contacts (or SPOCs) became a hot topic when prudential regulators in consent orders with servicers required the use of SPOCs to improve the process. The Treasury report is not tied to the requirements of prudential regulators. Instead, the agency is trying to assess activities related to the Making Home Affordable Program.
Firms are using different SPOC models today. The Treasury report tries to gauge what models are being used.
For starters, there is the direct model where a borrower is assigned one point-person to handle their mortgage immediately.
In the pod model, a servicing shop assigns a team of people to assist a homeowner. And in the appointment-based model, one employee generally does the intake before scheduling a borrower to speak with their assigned SPOC representative.
The report's author, Timothy Massad with the Treasury, said it's too early to tell which model works best.
"The single point of contact model, as applied to mortgage servicing, is still in the process of maturing and servicers will likely continue to experiment with different concepts and new practices," he noted in his update.
What is known is how the nine servicers have decided to comply with the rules to date.
BofA currently has 8,700 employees working on the implementation of the servicing guidelines. About 4,500 of those employees are contacts for borrowers, while another 4,122 are classified as support staff. Proficiency coaches also are assigned to teams to check up on calls and to provide coaching.
Citi currently has 681 single-point-of-contacts and 79 support staff members handling concerns over mortgages.
GMAC employs 280 SPOCs to communicate with parties dealing with loan issues. During the three-month period ending on May 2012, the company handled about 295,336 inbound and outbound calls per month. Contact was achieved with 128,017, or 43%, of those recorded calls.
JPMorgan Chase generally assigns 75 cases to each single-point-of-contact. The company also has a four-week training program for all employees functioning in the contact role.
Ocwen is the only big servicer that uses the appointment-based model where homeowners have to first go through a point-person who schedules an appointment between the borrower and a SPOC.
Ocwen has 687 borrower-relationship managers located in West Palm Beach, Houston and India. The Treasury's report says the majority of those handling Ocwen's cases are stationed in India.
Wells Fargo uses the direct model and currently has 3,026 SPOCs, as well as 121 support staff members. The contacts at Wells Fargo deal with specific market segments, so certain employees specialize in handling GSE loans and private-label mortgages.