The federal bank and thrift regulatory agencies issued a final rule that mortgage loans modified under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) retain the risk weight appropriate to the loan before modification. Under HAMP, the US Treasury Department allocates funds to participating servicers for the modification of loans on the verge of foreclosure. The final rule (available to download here) clarifies loans currently in the HAMP three-month trial period before reaching permanency qualify for the risk-based capital treatment. Under the agencies’ general risk-based capital rules, loans that are fully secured by first liens and meet certain criteria are risk-weighted at 50%, referring to how much a risk a bank takes on and ultimately how much it could get back if the loan defaults. After comments from banking organizations, the agencies modified the rule to specify that a mortgage originally risk weighted at 50% and has either entered a HAMP trial or even reached a permanent modification will keep the 50% risk weight. And past due and nonaccrual loans that receive a 100% risk weight can return to a 50% risk weight if the borrower demonstrates he or she can make the new payments over a "sustained period of time." However, the agencies have not established the specific time frame because of varying borrower characteristics. Write to Jon Prior.