Is the Obama Administrations’ Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) working?

Dennis Norman

Dennis Norman

This week the Treasury Department issed a report which included stats on the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) which is part of the Obama administrations’ Making Home Affordable Program and “is a loan modification program designed to reduce delinquent and at-risk borrowers’ monthly mortgage payments”. The HAMP program got underway around March of this year and is set to expire December 31, 2012. According to the government website HAMP is intended to help keep “3 to 4 million Americans in their homes by preventing avoidable foreclosures.”

So is the Loan Modification plan working?

To try to find an answer to this, let’s look at the data in the Treasury Department report (data is through November, 2009):

  • Number of notices sent by lenders to borrowers that are potentially eligible for loan modifiation: 3.137 million.
  • Number of Trial Period Plan offers extended to borrowers: 1.032 million, or 33 percent of those potentially eligible
  • Number of borrowers that have started the HAMP Trial Period loan modification: 759,408 or 73 percent of those borrowers that were offered a trial plan
  • Number of borrowers that did not successfully complete the three-month trial period: 30,650 or 4 percent of those in the trial
  • Number of borrowers that have successfully completed the trial period and have received a permanent loan modification: 31,382 or 4 percent of those those in the trial, or about 1 percent of those borrowers that were potentially eligible for a loan modification.

If the plan was for the loan modification program to help keep “3 to 4 million Americans in their homes by preventing avoidable foreclosures” I would say they need about 2,968,618 – 3,968,618 more completed loan modifications in the next two years to make it which, at the pace thus far, I think may be unlikely.

Since borrowers do have to complete a trial period that consists of making 3 of the “modified” payments on time before obtaining a permanent loan modification and, by my calculations, roughly half of the current borrowers in the Trial Period started their trial period within the last three months (earlier I did a post that contained data from the treasury department indicating there were 360,165 trials started as of August 31, 2009) then I would say in the next 30 days or so there should be a lot of borrowers completing their trial period. This will begin to give us a much better idea of what the actual success rate is going to be of the trial programs.

Another piece of data that I think is going to be quite telling is how many of the borrowers that do receive a permanent loan modification are actually able to keep their homes for any period of time. As I wrote about the other day, there was testimony before congress by a noted housing analyst that said the loan modifcation plan was destined to fail becuase the real underlying problem is the fact that too many borrowers owe more than their home is worth.

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