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Mortgage Loan Modifications Fall Short of Goals

December 11th, 2009

I recently wrote about how more than 650,000 home mortgages had been modified this year through October because of the government’s foreclosure prevention plan. That number increased to more than 697,000 mortgage loans through November, but most of them were only trial modifications, according to Bloomberg. 

Permanent Mortgage Loan Modifications

Although the Making Home Affordable program aimed to help 4 million distressed homeowners, only 31,382 mortgages have actually been permanently modified, according to the Treasury Department. GMAC Mortgage Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Ocwen Financial Corp. completed the most mortgage loan modifications.

What’s Holding up the Process?

Home loan modifications have been affected by a variety of factors. The Obama administration has said that about a third of borrowers failed to provide proper proper documentation to get their mortgage loans modified permanently. Loan servicers also have dropped the ball in many cases. Some loan servicers have lost documents submitted by borrowers or not requested the appropriate documents.

Putting Pressure on Mortgage Lenders

The Treasury Department is stepping up pressure on mortgage lenders to get more loans permanently modified. In the meantime, more homeowners are falling behind on mortgage payments. About 7.9 million homeowners got behind on mortgage payments in the third quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Do Mortgage Modifications Have Poor Outlook?

Laurie Goodman, senior managing director of Amhert Securities Group LP, told Congress last week that the mortgage loan modification program is “destined to fail” because it doesn’t address the fact that so many homeowners have negative equity in their homes.

About a quarter of U.S homeowners have negative equity in their homes. That means they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Previously, estimates had put the number of homeowners with negative equity at around 32%.

Refinance Mortgage

Mortgage loan modifications obviously don’t work for everyone. But if you still need help lowering your monthly mortgage payments, consider mortgage refinancing. Contact your loan servicer to see if you qualify to refinance your mortgage through the Making Home Affordable program. To get refinancing through the government’s program you must be current on monthly payments and have a home loan that isn’t higher than 125% of your home’s value.

If you don’t qualify for that program, search for refinancing deals from mortgage lenders here.