Servicers Initiate 230,000 HAMP Trials, Says Treasury

Servicers have offered more than 400,000 mortgage modifications and initiated more than 230,000 trial modifications since the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) began in March, the US Treasury Department said Tuesday. That progress, Treasury said, is on target to meet the Obama Administration’s announced goal of helping 3m to 4m homeowners receive affordable modifications during the next three years. Treasury said the 37 servicers who have voluntarily agreed to participate in HAMP and the 2,300 who service Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) loans that are automatically participating in Making Home Affordable manage 85% of the country’s residential mortgages, making the program-sponsored modifications available to millions of homeowners. And the list seems to grow each week. St. Louis-based First Bank, West Lafayette, Ind.-based Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union and Charlotte, N.C.-based Wachovia Bank nabbed the newest three slots on the HAMP servicers list late last week. Under HAMP guidelines, the modification is not considered complete until it has finished a three-month trial program to ensure the borrower makes timely payments on the modified loan. The trial period makes way for what is shaping up to look like a race between servicers to modify loans and distribute incentive funds allocated by the Treasury. Saxon Mortgage Services leads the growing list of servicers with the greatest portion of eligible mortgages modified to date. It so far initiated modifications on 25% of the 84,130 eligible mortgages on its books. JP Morgan Chase (JPM) leads on a gross volume basis with 79,304 trial modifications initiated, about 20% of the bank’s estimated 394,075 HAMP-eligible loans. Bank of America (BAC) boasts the most HAMP-eligible loans — 796,467 — but has only initiated trial modifications on 27,985 mortgages — about 4%. This uneven performance led the Obama Administration to ask servicers to commit to more than doubling the total number of modification starts to 500,000 by November 1. That number comes after a Washington, DC meeting of the minds in July between the nation’s top 25 servicers and Treasury officials. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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