That’ll Be $27 Billion for 1,711 Permanent Modifications, Please
Paul Koches, the vice president at Ocwen Financial Corp., liked to take the train to work so he could catch up on his reading. But one morning, instead of taking out a book, he took out his calculator. The foreclosure crisis was just under way, and analysts were peering down into the dark ravine that the industry is currently attempting to climb out of. “The foreclosure rates then and still now were apocryphal,” he says. “I did the math. It’s always dangerous for a lawyer to do the math.” When he measured foreclosures against units of time, he found that a home foreclosed every seven seconds. “I almost fell out of my chair,” he says. On March 4, 2009, just a few years later and six weeks into a new presidential administration, the Home Affordable Modification Program launched. The U.S. Treasury Department has set aside more than $27 billion of taxpayer money for servicers to modify loans under the program. And every month, the taxpayer gets a receipt. The 72 servicers have started 650,994 three-month trial modifications through October. Saxon Mortgage Services started trials for 44 percent of its eligible portfolio, leading the other servicers. On a gross volume basis, Bank of America has started 136,994 trials, more than any other servicer but only 14 percent of its portfolio. As the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) reaches December, leaders like Koches say it’s still too early to tell if the American taxpayer is a satisfied customer. The numbers released by the Treasury appear impressive, and government officials are quick to trumpet the achievement, eager to mark the progress. But a recent report from the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP), released in October, explained that the race is barely under way, and servicers are starting at a walk. Only 1,711 trial modifications have proceeded into a permanent modification. TO READ THE FULL STORY, SUBSCRIBE NOW.