Few benefit from loan modification plan

A Wells Fargo Home Mortgage branch in Brooklyn, N.Y.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: When you add it all up, the Obama administration has set aside $75 billion for its foreclosure prevention programs. So far, though, less than 10 percent of borrowers who are eligible for help have actually gotten any. That was the bottom line today from the Treasury Department's first progress report on the voluntary mortgage modification programs it has. Voluntary being the key word there. Treasury say some banks have ramped up fast to offer lower house payments to those who can afford them. Others haven't been so fast. Here's our senior business correspondent Bob Moon.


BOB MOON: Only a tiny fraction of struggling homeowners received any relief, which may not be all that surprising for a program that's voluntary for the lending institutions. Still, that doesn't mean the government can't name and shame those it thinks aren't trying hard enough.

MICHAEL BARR: We're disappointed in the performance of some of the servicers, and we expect them to do more.

Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr released today's scores.

Among the country's biggest financial institutions, Bank of America modified just 4 percent of eligible delinquent loans; Wells Fargo, six percent.

But Saxon Mortgage Services, which is owned by Morgan Stanley, lowered payments for 25 percent of eligible borrowers, and JPMorgan-Chase, 20 percent.

The Center for American Progress is one of the groups that's pressed for mortgage relief. Housing specialist Andrew Jacobavics is giving lenders the benefit of the doubt. He suggests even Bank of America, which bought troubled sub-prime lender Countrywide, might have reasons for turning in a low score.

ANDREW JACOBAVICS: It may very well be that Bank of America just simply has more difficult loans that just ultimately do not qualify. And so the fact that they have a lower rate is not indicative that they're not up to speed, but simply it's just a function of their portfolio.

Jacobavics says he takes the industry at its word that the goal of half-a-million loan modifications by November is attainable.

Scott Talbott speaks for the Financial Services Roundtable. He says the industry is committed to streamlining the system.

SCOTT TALBOTT: There isn't one-stop shopping for an application. So we're working on creating a Web portal that lets homeowners make one application online, which will help streamline the process for all borrowers.

Asked when that site might be available, Talbott could only say soon.

I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

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