The administration's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has been the target of some heavy criticism, with naysayers taking aim at everything from the program's slow progress and below par results to servicers' lack of capacity to handle large-volume modification work. The latest numbers may be more fodder for the fire.
According to the Treasury's March HAMP report card released Wednesday, 230,801 homeowners have been granted permanent modifications under the program. Over 60,000 trial mods were converted in March alone, compared to just under 53,000 in February, and the Treasury says an additional 108,000 permanent modifications have been approved and are pending only borrower acceptance.
But market observers still say it's a slow gait, and the conversion rate seems to be the program's biggest sticking point, leaving some homeowners in limbo for months on end.
In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee Tuesday, Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America Home Loans, said, ""[R]ecent program changes requiring servicers to obtain and review income
documentation before trial periods are commenced should help improve conversions from trial to permanent modifications.""
Treasury's data shows that homeowners who've received HAMP modifications have lowered their monthly mortgage payments by a median of $500, but the report also shows that the number of permanently modified loans to re-default nearly doubled from February to March.
Since the program's inception, 2,879 borrowers with a permanent loan restructuring have become delinquent again, according to the details provided in the March report. That's up from 1,499 in February and 1,005 in January. Another 155,173 borrowers who started the program have dropped out, either because they failed to make their trial period payments or didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t complete the final paperwork.
Drilling down to individual servicer activity, GMAC Mortgage has initiated HAMP modifications on the largest share of its eligible loan pool. Forty-eight percent of its 60-plus day delinquencies are in active mods (trial and permanent). GMAC has converted 17,102 to permanent status.
CitiMortgage was a close second, with 47 percent of its eligible loans in active modifications. Citi has completed 22,455 permanent mods.
Looking at the sheer numbers, Bank of America came through this month on top, having completed 32,900 permanent conversions, with 38,074 more approved and pending the borrowerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s acceptance.
Altogether, participating servicers have extended trial modifications to 1.4 million struggling homeowners, and started 1.1 million HAMP trials. The Treasury says homeownersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ lower monthly mortgage payments under the program represent a cumulative savings of more than $3 billion.