Obama Aims to Prohibit Foreclosure to Give HAMP a Chance
[Update 1: Treasury response] The Obama Administration is drafting a proposal that would prohibit foreclosure on delinquent mortgages until servicers get a chance to evaluate a borrower for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). According to the presentation to lenders obtained by HousingWire, the Administration would also give borrowers an extra 30 days after receiving the HAMP non-approval notice before the foreclosure sale can proceed. The new guidelines would also require participating servicers to consider borrowers in bankruptcy. The US Treasury Department launched HAMP in March 2009 to provide capped incentives to servicers for the modification of loans on the verge of foreclosure. Servicers would not be required to solicit borrowers if they've filed Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but an evaluation must take place upon request of the borrower. Borrowers already in a trial plan cannot be denied a permanent modification because of a subsequent bankruptcy filing, according to the new policy, and the trial period can be extended up to five months, making room for any delays in the court-approval process. The proposed guidelines also define a “reasonable effort” for servicers to recruit borrowers into the program; There must be at least four telephone attempts over a period greater than 30 days, and the servicer must send two written notices, with at least one posted by certified mail return receipt, according to the proposal. The Obama Adminstration and the Treasury are taking fire for the program’s performance from Republicans. In November 2009, the Treasury estimated 375,000 permanent modifications would actualize by the end of the year. To date, servicers provided 116,000 modifications. A spokesperson for the Treasury told HousingWire the proposal is one of many ideas being considered and has not been approved. Write to Jon Prior.