Woodstock Institute identifies trends and impacts of the foreclosure crisis and works to limit foreclosures’ negative effects on communities.
“In New York State, it would take lenders 62 years at their current pace, the longest time frame in the nation, to repossess the 213,000 houses now in severe default or foreclosure, according to calculations by LPS Applied Analytics, a prominent real estate data firm.
Clearing the pipeline in New Jersey, which like New York handles foreclosures through the courts, would take 49 years. In Florida, Massachusetts and Illinois, it would take a decade.”--Backlog of Cases Gives a Reprieve on Foreclosures (David Streitfeld, New York Times)
We recently reported that three banks—Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo—received punitive action from Treasury for failing to meet the standards of the Home Affordable Modification Program. The three servicers had their incentive payments for successful permanent modifications and short sales suspended for one quarter—and possibly longer, if they don’t shape up. We know that homeowners are facing difficulties working with many more servicers than only those three, however. How are the rest of them doing according to HAMP’s auditors? Take a look at these charts below the jump.
The latest report on the Obama Administration’s foreclosure prevention program includes the news that Treasury has, for the first time, taken punitive action against servicers who exhibit poor performance on the Home Affordable Modification Program (see our previous analyses). HAMP has been beset by difficulties, most notably that the 608,615 permanent modifications active today fall far short of the 3-4 million homeowners that Treasury aimed to reach. Consumer advocates have called for Treasury to take action against servicers who lose borrowers’ documents, give them conflicting or counterproductive advice, and erroneously reject borrowers from the program. We are pleased to see that Treasury is withholding incentive payments from three servicers in need of substantial improvement: Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.
The Financial Times reported yesterday that the New York Fed is investigating a whistleblower letter from Goldman Sachs’ servicing unit, Litton Loan. The charge? Litton failed to review borrowers’ HAMP modifications in a “denial sweep” strategy meant to quickly work through a backlog of applications. FT reports:
The latest data on the Obama Administration’s foreclosure prevention program show that it continues to reach Chicago area homeowners, albeit slowly. There are a few bright lights that could signal a more efficient program, but it still has a long way to go to reach a meaningful fraction of homeowners facing foreclosure.
With estimates showing a shadow inventory that numbers in the millions, it’s clear that the foreclosure crisis is not done wreaking havoc on the housing market. It seems that the ideal outcome for families, communities, and investors alike would include avoiding as many foreclosures as possible and keeping homes occupied. A number of strategies have been deployed in support of this goal, some more effective than others. One thread is common among the diverse array of approaches: the importance of HUD-certified housing counselors, who were hit with a major funding cut in the FY 2011 budget. Please take action this week to help get this funding restored for the 2012 budget.
Bank of America recently announced that it will donate 150 vacant, foreclosed properties to Chicago-area nonprofits for rehab or demolition. Housing Wire reports:
Members of the Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative, of which Woodstock Institute is a lead partner, sent a letter urging the Illinois delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against H.R. 839, The HAMP Termination Act of 2011, which would cancel funding for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). In the letter, Housing Action Illinois, Metropolitan Planning Council, Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, and Woodstock Institute told representatives:
When the South Suburban Housing Collaborative and the West Cook County Housing Collaborative were formed in 2009, they were built on a bold idea: that municipalities could look beyond political boundaries and work together to tackle the pressing housing needs of their areas, from foreclosure response to affordable housing to strategic and sustainable development. It was a tall order, and one that had scarcely been tried elsewhere. Almost two years later, the experiment is starting to show positive results. The West Cook County Housing Collaborative broke ground on their first project this month in Maywood.
It’s clear that vacant homes put a damper on their surrounding community. Not only are they eyesores, they put other homes at risk of losing value and may attract crime and other destabilizing elements. To minimize these risks, many municipalities have ordinances that allow them to hold the homes’ owners responsible for securing and maintaining the property. What can already-strapped local governments do if it’s unclear who the owner is, or the owner hasn’t notified them that the property is vacant?
Efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to eliminate or cut funding for federal programs and agencies designed to protect homeowners, consumers, and investors reflect the same flawed thinking that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted was wrong when he testified before Congress in October 2008. Greenspan, a longtime champion of deregulation, said that he had been mistaken to put so much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and that he had failed to anticipate the foreclosure and economic crisis that such deregulation ultimately generated.
As our monthly Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) analyses have continued to point out, it’s no secret that HAMP isn’t doing enough to put a substantial dent in the wave of foreclosures hitting the Chicago area and the country. The greater Chicago region has still seen 132,289 new foreclosures since HAMP was introduced—clearly, the need for substantial and sustainable foreclosure prevention assistance is huge. We need to fix HAMP to match the realities of troubled homeowners.