July 12, 2024

Loan Modification Efforts Continue

Despite the recent news that many of the mortgage loans modified have gone back into default, the loan modification effort continues.  Until a better solution is found loan modification efforts will continue, especially given the full backing by the FDIC and other government leaders.  It is likely, however, that the approach and methods will change to ensure that future loan mod efforts are more successful.

Bank United Announces New Loan Mod Efforts

Bank United announced today that it will intensify its efforts to save troubled homeowners  by outsourcing much of the work involved in a loan modification.   To anyone familiar with the delays and inconsistent procedures being employed by many banks in their loan mod efforts, this new approach is a welcomed fresh approach.  Many loss mitigation departments are overwhelmed with work, causing many months of delays before the homeowner receives any type of loan mod offer.   In many cases, the rules as to which loan is modified and under what terms also seems to be inconsistently applied.

Many of the $1 billion in delinquent loans at Bank United apparently are due to the large number of pay option arm loans that were originated.   Given the large drop in property values and the negative amortization features of the pay option arms, many borrowers in this category  have a large negative equity position.   The most probable course of action that Bank United will take for this category of borrower is to reduce the principal balance.   Without principal reduction, the borrower would still be in a negative equity position which frequently leads to default.  Unless the homeowner is wildly bullish about housing prices, very few people will continue to make payments on a $400,000 mortgage when the house is valued at $200,000.

With Bank United stock selling at 33 cents and almost 10% of their loans in default, they would apparently have little to lose by offering to put their borrowers in a stronger position through principal reduction.  As previously discussed, long term housing stability is based on strong borrowers.

Ocwen Shows High Success Rate With Loan Mods

Ocwen Financial reported that results with their loan modification efforts far exceed the industry results.   Ocwen is experiencing less than a 25% delinquency rate 60 days after the loan mod, compared to the industry average of over 50%.

CEO William Erbey stated that “The salient issue is not the efficacy of loan modification as a loss mitigation tool, but whether mods are being properly designed.   Our loan approach achieves the twin objectives of keeping homeowners in their homes and maximizing the net present value of the mortgages to the investors who own the loans.”

Mr Erbey further stated that “the re-default problem lies with how some servicers are doing modifications, not with concept of modification. It’s possible to do modifications right. It’s challenging, but we’re doing it — and doing it in a way that’s scalable.”

Ocwen’s good results seem to reflect it’s use of high technology applied on an individual basis.  Rather than having a loan mod decision made by an individual, the characteristics of the loan and the borrower are assessed using artificial intelligence technology.

To date, Ocwen appears to be an industry example of the right way to do loan modifications.  This year alone, Ocwen has kept over 60,000 borrowers in their homes with the mortgages now being paid on time.

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