Countrywide Financial Corporation (NYSE: CFC) went on the offensive today, touting that its loss mitigation efforts have helped keep 35,000 borrowers in their homes this year. The nation's largest lender said that it had performed more than 17,000 loan modifications -- with the rest of the total, I'm assuming, coming from repayment plans, postponements and/or refinancing. From the press release:
"Our number one priority is to help borrowers stay in their homes," said Steve Bailey, Senior Managing Director of Loan Administration. "Countrywide has the right tools, processes and staff to help homeowners avoid foreclosure." A significant barrier to helping homeowners is getting them connected with a Countrywide representative. Countrywide personnel engaged in telephone outreach contact with delinquent borrowers are trained to assist customers in getting the help they need. Twenty percent of borrowers never make contact with the company during their foreclosure process. In addition to direct outreach, Countrywide's efforts include working with non-profit and community groups across the country to create grassroots efforts to contact and counsel distressed borrowers, particularly in communities that are experiencing unusually high foreclosures. "There is an unprecedented effort among lenders, investors, community groups and the industry to work together to help homeowners," said Bailey. "No one benefits from foreclosure, and counseling and intermediary support from these groups can be fundamental to the success of our borrowers."
What isn't in the press release, however, is what percentage of total delinquencies were cured by loss mitigation efforts; also useful to know would be what is called the recidivism rate, or the percentage of re-performing loans that end up in delinquency all over again. Both measures are more critical to the servicer ratings process than an arbitrary number of "homeowners saved." That being said, every little bit helps, and I'm sure this press campaign is intended to counter some of the negative information put out there by Gretchen Morgenson over at the New York Times -- who recently whiffed badly on an exposé purportedly covering the loss mitigation process.