Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Whose house is being saved by Obama?

chart_hamp_trials.top.gif By Les Christie, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- More than half a million Americans have received permanent mortgage modifications from the Obama administration's flagship foreclosure prevention program, the Home Affordable Modification Program.

So who are these homeowners?

To begin with, the reason they are falling behind on their mortgages isn't because their loans are unaffordable, according to a report released Monday by the Treasury Department.

Instead, defaults are stemming from the weak economy and unemployment: In December, 60% of the borrowers who received permanent HAMP mods were facing a loss of income. Just 11% were the result of unaffordable mortgages.

L.A. and New York City have the largest concentrations of these beneficiaries, and their ethnicity roughly reflects the nation as a whole: 33% of borrowers who received permanent modifications were white, while 12% were African American, 18% are Hispanic and 3% are Asian. (The numbers don't add up to 100% because many people did not report ethnicity.)

Median household income for them was just $46,000, well short of affluent. Their credit scores averaged about 570 at the time of modification, which would, under today's lending conditions, prevent them from obtaining loans.

Their mortgage balances -- after modification -- averaged $232,000. That is about five times median household income, about double what they'd usually be allowed to borrow on income of $46,000.

The help these borrowers receive is substantial, with the typical HAMP modification slashing about 40% off mortgage payments. About 18% of HAMP borrowers were able to reduce their payments by $1,000 a month or more.

Still, receiving a permanent HAMP mod does not guarantee that the borrowers will keep their homes. Of those who received a modification during the third quarter of 2009, more than 46% have already fallen at least two payments behind.

Homeowners with payment reductions of more than 30% were far less likely to become delinquent on their permanent modifications, compared with those receiving a payment reduction of 20% or less.

After 12 months, nearly 60% of borrowers whose loan payments went down less than 20% were at least two payments behind. Only 28% of those borrowers with payments reductions of 30% or more had fallen two payments behind or more. To top of page

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.92%3.92%
15 yr fixed2.99%2.98%
5/1 ARM3.26%3.12%
30 yr refi4.01%3.98%
15 yr refi3.08%3.04%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
  • Find Homes for sale
    Real estate and homes for sale on Trulia

  • Property Type
  • Find a home in: New York | Atlanta | Chicago | Los Angeles
  • Washington D.C | Houston | Philadelphia | More options
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,798.49 -14.90 -0.08%
Nasdaq 5,127.53 11.38 0.22%
S&P 500 2,090.11 1.24 0.06%
Treasuries 2.22 -0.01 -0.31%
Data as of 5:49am ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 30.36 0.00 0.00%
Bank of America Corp... 17.48 0.04 0.23%
HP Inc 12.61 -0.03 -0.24%
Pfizer Inc 32.79 -0.08 -0.24%
Walt Disney Co 115.13 -3.54 -2.98%
Data as of Nov 27


Nearly six in ten black Americans surveyed by CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation say that they or a close friend or family member have been incarcerated -- and a majority of them come from low-income households. That leaves the many families of inmates in a precarious financial situation. More

Hive, a startup funded by the UN, is tasked with getting more Americans engaged with the refugee crisis. More

Shoppers around the country braved the crowds to get their hands on the best Black Friday deals. More