From an article in the Wall Street Journal…
Number of Foreclosed Homes Will Continue to Soar
Since the start of the recession in 2007, more than five million homes have been taken back by lenders. The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that as many as 13 million more homes could fall into foreclosure over the next five years.
To combat the foreclosure epidemic, the Obama administration created the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) last February. As part of this program, the Treasury Department plans to spend up to $75 billion in financing mortgage “modifications” for struggling homeowners.
Since the program began, more than three million homeowners have become eligible for assistance. In turn, mortgage servicers have reached out to these borrowers, initiating the modification process. Roughly 760,000 homeowners have received loan modifications on a trial basis. But just 31,000 modifications have been made permanent.
That’s a success rate of just 1%. This means that up to 99% of eligible homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments have been unable thus far to modify their loans.
A big reason for HAMP’s limited success is that the government is suffocating banks with counterproductive accounting rules. Under current law, if a bank modifies a mortgage it must record the write-down as an expense on its books. For example, if a homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment is reduced by $400 per month for 24 months, the bank has to report that it “lost” $9,600 ($400 times 24 months).