Monday, July 27, 2009

WaPo: Foreclosures Frequently Best Alternative for Lenders

by Calculated Risk on 7/27/2009 11:57:00 PM

Note: I covered this research a few weeks ago: Researchers: "Few Preventable Foreclosures", but this is worth repeating ...

From the WaPo: Foreclosures Are Often In Lenders' Best Interest

Government initiatives to stem the country's mounting foreclosures are hampered because banks and other lenders in many cases have more financial incentive to let borrowers lose their homes than to work out settlements, some economists have concluded.

Policymakers often say it's a good deal for lenders to cut borrowers a break on mortgage payments to keep them in their homes. But, according to researchers and industry experts, foreclosing can be more profitable.
If the option is foreclosure or modification - and the modification will work, then the economics favor foreclosure.

The problem is it is hard to tell if the borrowers will self-cure or redefault.
Nearly a third of the borrowers who miss two payments are able to self-cure without help from their lender, according to the Boston Fed study. Separately, Moody's Economy.com, a research firm, estimated that about a fifth of those who miss three payments will self-cure.
And on redefault:
Lenders also worry that borrowers may re-default even after receiving a loan modification. This only delays foreclosure, which can be costly to the lender because housing prices are falling throughout the country and the home's condition may deteriorate if the owner isn't maintaining it. In some cases, lenders lose twice as much foreclosing on a home as they did two years ago, said Laurie Goodman, senior managing director at Amherst Securities.
When you compare the losses from foreclosure to the losses from modifications - and include self-cure risk and redefault risk - the researchers argue there are very few preventable foreclosures.

Just something to remember, meanwhile from the WSJ: U.S. Effort to Modify Mortgages Falters
An Obama administration effort to reduce home foreclosures by lowering the mortgage payments of struggling borrowers before they fall behind is failing to help as many people as expected.

Among the problems: Some homeowners are being told they must be behind on their payments to receive help, which runs counter to the aim of the program. In other cases, delays are so long that borrowers who are current on their payments when they ask for a loan modification are delinquent by the time they receive one. There is also confusion about who qualifies.

Administration officials have summoned executives of 25 mortgage-servicing companies to Washington on Tuesday to discuss efforts to help borrowers, both delinquent and at risk.
Should be an interesting discussion.