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Fifth Third Mortgage Company Sees Success in Mortgage Modifications

The comprehensive Home Affordability and Stability Plan, introduced by the Obama administration in March 2009, was created in hopes of providing refinance and modification options for millions of homeowners. So far, though, that hasn't been the case.


While many at-risk homeowners have entered into trial loan modifications under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), only a fraction of those have been converted into permanent modifications. The national average conversion rate of these loans stands at a mere 7.8 percent, according to recently released ""U.S. Treasury"":http://www.treasury.gov/ data for December 2009.

However, ""Fifth Third Mortgage Company"":https://www.53.com/wps/portal/pv?New_WCM_Context=/wps/wcm/connect/FifthThirdSite/Personal/Mortgages/, a financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and a subsidiary of ""Fifth Third Bank"":https://www.53.com/wps/portal/personal, says it has done its part to help homeowners stay in their homes. Of the company's portfolio, 89 percent were eligible for HAMP consideration, and nearly 35 percent of the trial plans started have been converted into permanent modifications, a conversion rate of nearly four times the national average.

""Fifth Third Bank works hard to provide the best for our customers,"" said Steve Alonso, EVP of consumer lending and mortgage at Fifth Third Bank. ""We have significantly increased staff in this department and continuously work to convert customers who are eligible for the program.""

The mortgage company uses HAMP on its ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/- and ""Freddie Mac-"":http://www.freddiemac.com/ owned mortgages, per the government-sponsored enterprises' mandatory participation in the program, and ""HUD"":http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD created a program similar to HAMP for the mortgages it owns and the bank services. Both programs require a three-month trial modification period before being converted to permanent status.

In addition to using government-sponsored modification programs, Fifth Third Bank has developed a proactive customer outreach and assertive modification program to assist more borrowers experiencing financial hardship. The program, ""You Have Options,"" allows the bank to offer flexible term and rate concessions to bank-owned mortgages, which account for approximately 8 percent of Fifth Third Mortgage Company's portfolio.

As a result of the flexibility of this program, Fifth Third Bank has decided to continue to use ""You Have Options"" for its bank-owned mortgages instead of HAMP. The bank said HAMP does have benefits for customers, but its ""You Have Options"" program is tailored to each customer's specific financial situation-not just the customer's mortgage payment-to-income as in HAMP.

""'You Have Options' primary goal is to consider all debts and reasonable monthly obligations to ensure the customer has a surplus of monthly net cash flow for unplanned circumstances,"" Alonso said.

About Author: Brittany Dunn


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