Mixed Score on Mortgage Modification
York Daily Record (PA)
January 28, 2013
The Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) has proven both a success and a failure, according to the National Consumer Law Center's analysis of the foreclosure-prevention initiative. Rolled out in 2009, HAMP offers lenders financial incentives to reduce borrowers' mortgage payments to affordable levels. On one hand, NCLC says the program has driven down the share of failed loan workouts to below 20 percent from nearly 50 percent pre-HAMP. "For the people who got modifications, the program was outstandingly successful," remarks NCLC attorney and report co-author Diane E. Thompson. "Most would not have gotten modification without HAMP and they would not have gotten the deep and sustainable modifications they needed." On the other hand, the report notes, HAMP has fallen far short of helping the 3 million to 4 million distressed homeowners initially targeted. "When you look at who needed modifications and who didn't get them or how difficult it was to get one," Thompson says, "the program is a failure." NCLC believes one of HAMP's biggest flaws is "massive servicer noncompliance;" and it recommends reaching more borrowers by standardizing the evaluations used to qualify or disqualify a loan for modification, ensuring that modified terms are truly affordable, demanding more transparency in the process, and making servicer participation obligatory rather than voluntary. There is plenty of room for improvement in the program, according to Thompson. "I know we can't help everybody," she acknowledges, "but I also know there are a lot of people we can still help."
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