Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Senator Durbin Gives Banks Mortgage Cramdown "Ultimatum"

The media reports that Senator Durbin has "put the banks and mortgage servicers on notice" that Congress will renew efforts in three months for bankruptcy reform to allow residential mortgage cramdown unless the banks become aggressive in modifying mortgages to prevent foreclosure. It is reported that Senator Durbin want to see 500,000 mortgage modifications by November. Recently House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank made a similar threat.

This is amid recent revelations that the Administration's foreclosure mitigation efforts, of which the $75 billion Home Affordable Mortgage Program ("HAMP") is the centerpiece, have failed to slow the foreclosure crisis and stabilize the nation's housing market. The Administration initially estimated that HAMP would prevent 3 to 4 million foreclosures, but yet only about 200,000 modifications have been accepted and most of these are merely three month trial period agreements. This amounts to only 9% of delinquent borrowers.

The Treasury Department reports that approximately 85% of mortgages are covered by HAMP participating servicers, that 38 servicers have signed servicer participation agreement to modify loans under HAMP and that approximately 2,300 others automatically participate in HAMP as they service loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

The banking industry reportedly spent $42 million on lobbyists to defeat bankruptcy reform efforts earlier this year when it failed to pass the Senate by 15 votes.

It is reported that mortgage companies are reluctant to modify mortgages as they collective lucrative fees on mortgages in default.

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