Monday, June 02, 2008

HSBC On Mortgage Workouts

by Tanta on 6/02/2008 07:33:00 AM

The Chicago Tribune has a lengthy article out on HSBC's loan workout efforts. This is all rather confusing because HSBC uses the term "modification" the way everyone else I know uses the term "repayment plan," and then uses the term "restructuring" for what everybody else calls a "modification." With that in mind:

HSBC quickly stopped offering some of the riskiest loans, including stated-income mortgages, which require little documentation, and those generated by brokers, a channel where it had less control.

But trying to help homeowners stave off foreclosures through loan modifications or restructurings is taking longer than expected, McDonagh said.

A modification is generally temporary; after the end of a certain period, the loan resets to its original terms. A restructuring is a permanent redoing of the contract, including new terms and conditions.

"We typically would do six- to nine-month modifications" for troubled homeowners, he said. "Now we're looking out two to three years because, with the severity of the issues they've got, they need longer than six months to work things out."

The number of modifications and restructurings have been rising and represent 22 percent of its mortgage book, or about $18 billion.

Of that, $1.9 billion in modifications, in 11,900 loans, has occurred since late 2006 as part of a program to address the interest rate resets of adjustable-rate mortgages. . . .

HSBC Finance, which typically holds its mortgages on its books, ended 2007 with 9,627 foreclosed properties, up from 8,809 at the end of the third quarter, company records show. While the average number of days to sell a foreclosed property has dipped from 186 to 183 in the same time period, HSBC's losses on the sale of foreclosed real estate have climbed, losing 14 percent of their value in the fourth quarter, up from a 9 percent loss in the third quarter.

Every modification or restructuring is a full re-underwriting, with customers' latest financial situations reviewed.

"To make it work, they have to be upfront about their debts and sources of income," he said.

To a degree, HSBC relies on computerized analysis to decide whether a customer is suited to a mortgage modification.

But "at the end of the day, it's a personal negotiation because every customer's situation is different," he said. "It requires skilled" employees.
I periodically hear people wondering if servicers of securities are doing modifications they wouldn't do on their own mortgage portfolio. I have believed all along that in fact portfolio lenders are much more aggressive about working out loans. They are also, I suspect, much faster at offloading REO quickly and taking the loss.

The question becomes whether the securitization rules or trustees themselves are hindering servicer efforts to work out loans, or whether servicers prioritize their workload with their portfolio loans first, then the securitized loans. I would guess it's a combination in a lot of cases.