HAMP helping less than 20% of eligible delinquent mortgages
Less than 20% of the estimated delinquent mortgages eligible for modification under the Obama administration's Making Home Affordable Program have moved to the active permanent modification status. The government estimates nearly 2.9 million loans and almost 1.4 million borrowers are eligible for HAMP, yet more trial modifications and permanent modifications have been canceled than converted. Some 740,000 trials were canceled and more than 68,000 permanent modifications were nixed through the end of January. Meanwhile there are another 145,000 active trials and about 539,500 active permanent modifications. When HAMP launched in March 2009, the administration estimated it could help 3 million to 4 million borrowers. Still, the number of trials has risen steadily throughout the two years of the program, and Treasury Department officials believe it still has merit "because 25,000 and 30,000 people are getting modifications every month, and that is significant." Treasury Assistant Secretary Tim Massad said Wednesday HAMP and other federal programs like it "were meant to smooth out the concerns and the volatility in the market, and we feel that these concerns will return if the programs are ended." As expected, the big four mortgage lenders have converted the most permanent modifications under HAMP. Bank of America (BAC) has extended more than 481,000 trial offers and started nearly 359,000 trials and about 106,600 permanent modifications. The banking giant holds nearly 45,200 active trials and nearly 93,300 active permanent modifications. Wells Fargo Bank (WFC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup's (C) CitiMortgage unit follow BofA in number of trials and permanent modifications extended to borrowers. Servicers end up canceling many of the attempted modifications because borrowers submit insufficient documentation, default on payments due during the trial period or are ineligible due to their first-lien expense is below 31% of household income. Write to Jason Philyaw.