HOPE NOW: 545,000 Subprime Borrowers Aided in Second Half of 2007
Taking aim at recent claims that the mortgage industry has done too little to help troubled borrowers, the HOPE NOW alliance on Wednesday released its final report covering loan workout activity in 2007. Approximately 545,000 subprime mortgage holders were helped in the second half of 2007, HOPE NOW said, compared to the 370,000 reported in a preliminary study last month. The original report covered data from nine of the nation's largest servicers responsible for managing 4.1 million loans; the final report issued Wednesday covered data from 14 servicers managing more than 33.3 million home loans. â€œHOPE NOW servicers are working hard to help more and more homeowners who are in difficulty, but we know there is much more to be done,â€? said Faith Schwartz, executive director of HOPE NOW. â€œWe will continue to find better and more innovative ways to get at-risk homeowners the help they need.â€? The full report is available for download here. In addition to subprime, HOPE NOW reported that servicers reached workouts with an additional 324,000 prime borrowers during the second half of last year. Of subprime borrowers in a workout, 27.5 percent received a modification of their loan; 20.7 percent of prime borrowers received modifications, according to the report. It's worth noting that the study also found a significant bump in modification activity during Q4, with 34.8 percent of subprime borrowers in a workout receiving a loan modification -- suggesting that servicers began to focus more strongly on modifying loans during Q4 than earlier in the cycle. The revised and updated data also indicated that a majority of delinquent subprime borrowers -- 68 percent -- were succesfully aided during the second half of 2007, either through repayment plans or loan modification efforts. The numbers suggest that the numerous efforts to reach out to and work with troubled borrowers are certainly having a short-term impact; and that's a very good thing. The rather dramatic increase in loan modifications is also a very good thing -- that being said, out of the 869,000 prime and subprime borrowers helped in the last two quarters of 2007, HOPE NOW reported that 652,000 represented repayment plans. While repayment plans are certainly an important part of the toolbox in loss mitigation, a heavy reliance on repayment plans could end up costing both investors and servicers dearly later on, as HW reported in an earlier story.