Modification Aid Gap Continues Between Prime, Subprime

New data released this week by the HOPE NOW coalition of servicers, lenders and investors shows a continued disparity between the modification help given to prime borrowers over subprime borrowers. The ratio of repayment plans to modifications for prime borrowers during January was 2.23 percent — up from 1.95 percent in December — while for subprime borrowers that ratio was 0.53 percent — unchanged from December’s data. The coalition touted 123,000 modifications and 125,000 formal repayment plans made in January, together preventing some 248,000 foreclosures — a 4 percent increase over the total number of preventions reported for December. There were, all told, about 3.7 workouts for prime borrowers for every one prime foreclosure and 3.6 workouts for subprime borrowers for every one subprime foreclosure. The raw volume of foreclosures came in at just 68,114 for January, still under levels seen in 2008 but a slight increase from the 55,608 foreclosures reported for December. “In the midst of this ever-changing and extremely challenging mortgage crisis, HOPE NOW members continue to increase the number of homeowners they are helping and are trying hard to provide additional positive solutions,” said executive director Faith Schwartz. “The constantly growing use of modifications as the primary way to help homeowners is very likely to continue.” The number of modifications to foreclosures has fallen from December’s data. Although there were more than two modifications — 2.19 — to every foreclosure in December, there are now less than two — 1.81 — modifications per every foreclosure in January. The difference may not be severe, but it does hint at increased efforts lately to keep mortgages out of foreclosure, culminating in the GSEs’ joint foreclosure moratorium originally slated to end in January but extended through March 6, to allow President Barack Obama’s homeowner plan and foreclosure mitigation efforts to take effect. “It’s clear that the mortgage problem is still growing,” Schwartz said. “That’s why HOPE NOW members are looking for additional ways to help homeowners and are working hard to assist the Obama administration implement its just-announced foreclosure-prevention initiative.” Write to Diana Golobay at

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