Monthly permanent HAMP modifications increase 26% in November
Mortgage servicers completed 29,972 permanent modifications through the Home Affordable Modification Program in November, 26% more than October and the first monthly increase since June. The Treasury Department launched HAMP in March 2009 to provide incentives to servicers for the modification of mortgages on the verge of foreclosure. Roughly $30 billion was allocated for the program. Since it launched, participating servicers have started 1.4 million three-month trial modifications and converted 549,620 of them into permanent status. While the amount of permanent modifications in November increased from the previous month, it remains below the monthly peak in June when servicers completed nearly 49,000 permanent modifications. The total amount of modifications made through the program remains well below the more than 2.9 million borrowers eligible for the program, according to Treasury estimates. Such underwhelming numbers have sparked scathing reports from the Congressional Oversight Panel, which oversees Troubled Asset Relief Program initiatives such as HAMP. The Treasury has maintained that HAMP provided the structure for many banks to design their own modification programs. A backlog of trial modifications that have remained in the trial stage for longer than six months built up over the summer. That backlog dropped from more than 69,000 in October to less than 50,000 in November. Servicers have canceled 729,109 trial modifications from reaching a permanent status. But the Treasury monitors loan files that were not in HAMP modifications to ensure that the servicer's actions were appropriate. The Treasury disagreed with the servicer on 2.4% of those. Ocwen Financial Corp. (OCN) held the highest conversion rate of any servicer in November. It converted 73% of its trial modifications, which include those from the recently purchased HomEq. It has started 27,813 permanent mods and holds an estimated 48,880 loans eligible for the program. Ally Financial's (GJM) GMAC Mortgage converted 72% of its trials into permanent status for a total of 36,718 started permanent mods. It holds 16,442 remaining HAMP-eligible loans. American Home Mortgage Servicing has the third highest conversion rate of any single servicer at 70%. It has started 17,204 permanent mods and holds 53,042 HAMP-eligible loans. The big-four banks all had slight conversion rate increases in November. CitiMortgage, the servicing arm of Citigroup (C) led them by converting 37%, totaling 55,333 permanent modifications since the program began in March 2009, up from the 51,899 total in October. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) converted 36% for a total of 76,140 started permanent modifications through November, up from 70,521 through October. Wells Fargo (WFC) had a 37% conversion rate, up from 36% the month before. It totals 72,794 started permanent modifications through November, up from 55,186 through October. Bank of America (BAC) held the highest amount of started permanent modifications of any participating servicer through November, at 93,499 and a 28% conversion rate. It was up from 87,650 total started permanent mods through October. BofA holds more 425,308 HAMP-eligible loans in its portfolio, more than double the second most 203,594 held by the JPMorgan Chase. Write to Jon Prior.