75% of modified home loans will redefault

By Les Christie, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Most borrowers who have had their mortgages modified through a government-sponsored program will redefault within 12 months, according to a report released Wednesday.

Between 65% and 75% of loans that are modified through the Home Affordable Modification Program but not backed by the federal government are likely to go bad, according to the report released by Fitch Ratings, a N.Y.-based credit-rating agency.

The main reason these borrowers continue to struggle is that HAMP does nothing to solve the rest of their debt problems, the report added.

"Many of these borrowers still have very heavy levels of other debt," said Diane Pendley, a Fitch managing director, "auto loans, credit cards and other expenses. The HAMP modifications reduce housing expenses down to 31% of income but do not touch these other obligations."

On average, HAMP-modified borrowers, according to Pendley, have 64% of their monthly pretax income spent before they even buy a quart of milk. If even a small emergency arises -- an unexpected car repair, a medical bill or a loss of overtime income -- they're in trouble.

"We're talking borrowers who don't have cash reserves," said Pendley. "If they did, they wouldn't be in this position in the first place. It doesn't take much for them to get in the same situation again"

Jay Brinkmann, the chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, finds nothing at all surprising about the Fitch finding. "Over the course of studying this over several years," he said, "we find re-default rates from 40% to 60% on modified mortgages. You have borrower behavior that keeps coming back."

When that happens, lenders are much more likely now to recommend that borrowers opt for foreclosure alternatives instead of modifying loans a second time.

Currently, according to the Fitch report, about half of prime borrowers who lose their homes now do so through foreclosure.

The other 50% go through short sales, in which they sell their homes for less than what they owe the bank, or deed-in-lieu, a transaction where the bank takes back the property directly and forgives the outstanding balance.

The servicers have been encouraged to rev up their short sale engines by the Treasury Department, which runs HAMP and its sister program, Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA), which provides cash incentives to the parties who agree to short sales..

Now, when borrowers re-default on HAMP mods or other bank workouts, banks are much more likely to offer help to execute a short sale or deed-in-lieu.

"HAFA gave the servicers an indication that this is where they should take these [re-defaulting loans]," said Pendley. "The banks are now assisting borrowers; they're being much more proactive, like helping them find real estate brokers for short sales."

The benefit of these transactions for borrowers is that it lets them move on more quickly with their lives. They can get out from under the unaffordable mortgage payments, find a cheaper rental, start to, perhaps, save a little cash and start to rebuild their credit scores. To top of page


Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.93%4.15%
15 yr fixed3.03%3.12%
5/1 ARM3.27%3.19%
30 yr refi4.01%4.20%
15 yr refi3.09%3.17%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,399.67 19.26 0.12%
Nasdaq 4,316.07 57.64 1.35%
S&P 500 1,904.01 17.25 0.91%
Treasuries 2.18 -0.02 -0.82%
Data as of 7:00am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 99.76 3.49 3.63%
Bank of America Corp... 16.26 0.00 0.00%
Pfizer Inc 27.93 0.05 0.18%
Facebook Inc 76.95 4.28 5.89%
Microsoft Corp 44.08 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Oct 20

Sections

Better-than-expected iPhone sales and record Mac sales lifted Apple in its fiscal fourth quarter. More

China's economy has clocked its worst quarter in more than five years, raising concerns over Beijing's ability to meet its own annual growth target. More

In three years, all Chicago high school students will have to take a coding course in order to graduate. More

Host a furniture market. Here's how small town High Point, N.C. rakes in this much money -- twice a year. More

Detroit has 80,000 dilapidated properties and 100,000 empty lots. It's trying to get more people like Antjuan Wyatt to buy them. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.