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Newer Modifications Less Likely to Re-Default: Barclays

While loans restructured under the federal government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) have been highly criticized for their propensity to re-default, the analysts at ""Barclays Capital"":http://www.barcap.com say newly[IMAGE]modified mortgages stand a better chance of staying current. The research firm says the evolution of the government-based mod program is leading to ""measurable"" improvements in loan performance.

Fitch Ratings recently said that it expects 55 to 75 percent of HAMP-modified borrowers to re-default, as ""DSNews.com reported last week"":http://dsnews.comarticles/fitch-projects-steep-re-default-rates-on-hamp-modifications-2010-06-16. But Barclays says ""[W]e find that re-default rates on newer modification cohorts are improving every quarter.""

The analysts at Barclays cite three main reasons why they believe newer modifications will be more successful in averting re-defaults.

First, they note that HAMP mandates a three-month trial period. As a result, they say, only stronger borrowers who have provided sufficient documentation may receive permanent modification. Failed trials, Barclays says, are not reflected in the re-default data since they are not yet considered true modifications, and therefore nonperformers are weeded out earlier in the process.

Secondly, Barclays has found that newer modifications include higher share of rate reduction in combination with debt forgiveness. The company's researchers says these newer modifications result in ""meaningful reductions"" in monthly principal and interest payments, reducing borrowers' debt burden and leading to fewer re-defaults.

And thirdly, Barclays says ""as the pool of HAMP-eligible deeply delinquent borrowers gets exhausted, we expect more modifications to be performed on newly delinquent borrowers."" The company says these are borrowers who have already managed to keep paying through times of severe economic distress and turned delinquent only recently.

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""We believe that these are inherently better quality borrows who have a higher propensity to pay once modified,"" Barclays said.

Based on the research firm's analysis, foreclosure stock peaked in March, totaling 3.8 percent of all mortgage borrowers. Barclays' estimate of the national delinquency pipeline suggests that foreclosure stock fell by 2.6 percent in April, from 2 million to 1.95 million. The company points out that this decline was the first since 2005, and follows a decrease in the 90-plus day delinquency bucket the previous month.

""For the past year, current-to-delinquent roll rates have steadily improved,"" Barclays said in its report. ""But foreclosure stock has kept rising, due to programs that delayed homes from going into REO, such as HAMP. Now the tide seems to be shifting.""

Newer data suggests that foreclosure-to-REO roll rates are ticking up while delinquency rates have peaked, Barclays says, signaling that servicers' efforts have caught up to market conditions and they're making progress working through the foreclosure backlog.

But at the end of that liquidation chain, Barclays says ""REO stock has a long way to go."" The company doesn't expect the REO inventory to peak until August 2011, at 545,000 homes.

In April, Barclays says, REO stock hit 526,000 properties, primarily due to an increase in GSE REOs. Meanwhile, the company estimates that homes are moving from foreclosure to REO at a rate of 4.4 percent per month. This implies a 23-month timeline between foreclosure and REO, which unlikely to fall substantially in the near term, Barclays says.

The research firm notes that servicers are keenly cognizant of not jeopardizing the housing recovery with additional supply. Barclays also points out that distressed have begun to make up a smaller percentage of overall home sales.

The company estimates that distressed sales were 23 percent of April's home sales â€" 122,000 of 521,000. This was a 6 percent decline from March's distressed share of 29 percent. Of April's distressed sales, Barclays estimates that 83,000 were REO and 29,000 were short sales. The research and analytics firm expects the pace of distressed liquidations to hover near 130,000 a month over the next two years.

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.
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