With about 6 million folks going to lose their homes to foreclosure this year, I have been repeatedly asked what kind of grade I give the Obama administration in addressing the foreclosure crisis during the first 100 days. I would say a B or B-. Let me explain.
On the one hand, there has been some improvement in the overall credit markets and we are seeing a lot more refinances at historically low interest rates. However, only about 2 in ten families will qualify to refinance this year. That means a whopping 80% will have to proceed on a different course.
The so called “mortgage modifications” so far have been a failure. 50% of all modifications end up in foreclosure. That is the current number. Because the servicers have little control over their obligations to their investors, it is cheaper and safer for them to foreclose.
Short sales have gone way up and it seems that the servicers are more likely to agree to a short sale than a modification where the investor takes a crew cut!
I have always described the “Obama plan” as a three legged stool:
- Modifications; and
- the threat of bankruptcy judge telling the lender that the principal amount of the loan is being reduced or “crammed down” their throats due to the decrease in the property values.
Of course, to date the third leg of the stool does not exist since it got hung up in the Senate. That will not likely change due to the lobbying done by the banking industry. Ironically, it appears that some of the very tax payer bailout money is now being used to pay expensive Washington lobbyists to keep this bill from coming to the Senate Floor. How ironic! Thus it appears that the long sort after weapon that foreclosure defense attorneys were awaiting is remaining elusive and will continue to hinder our ability to get better results in our loan modification negotiations.