Lenders still issuing modifications – if you qualify

MODS KEEP PACE:

Servicers completed about 56,000 permanent loan modifications in the month of August-similar to their July efforts. Most of these modifications included reduced payments and fixed interest rates for five years or more, according to HOPE NOW data released Wednesday. About 83 percent of proprietary modifications completed in August insured a fixed interest rate for at least five years, up a little from 76 percent in July.

The total number of loan modifications completed since HOPE NOW began reporting data in 2007 has reached 4.86 million. Servicers completed more than 4.06 million of these modifications, while about 790,000 loans were modified under the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). HAMP’s August data has not yet been released. HOPE NOW reports about 690,000 loans have been modified this year. Faith Schwartz, executive director of HOPE NOW, states  “in cases where modifications are not possible, the industry is working hard to educate at-risk homeowners about the options available to them.” While proprietary loan modifications remained level from July to August, foreclosure starts increased 18 percent, rising from 185,000 in July to 218,000 in August meaning there is still some pain to come.

Completed foreclosure sales also increased for the month, rising 5 percent from 65,000 to 68,000. The number of homeowners 60 or more days delinquent fell slightly from July to August, falling from 2.81 million to 2.80 million.

 

FRAUD IS UP:

Financial institutions filed 29,558 mortgage loan fraud suspicious activity reports in the second quarter of this year, up from 15,727 last year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The report states the majority of filings involved loans stemming from the height of the real estate bubble. Eighty-one percent of reports of suspicious activity during the second quarter of the year involve actions completed prior to 2008, and 63 percent involve actions completed at least four years ago.

“We’re continuing to see a large number of [suspicious activity reports] filed on activity that occurred more than two years ago, an indication that financial institutions are uncovering fraud as they sift through defaulted mortgages,” James H. Freis, Jr., director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said.

“But we also continue to see indications of ongoing mortgage fraud activities. FinCEN’s report released today raises awareness of the common scams that homeowners and lenders may encounter when arranging or modifying home financing,” Freis said. In order to determine recent trends in mortgage fraud, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network specifically examined suspicious activity reported within 90 days of the loan filing. For the quarter, 1,825 suspicious activity reports were filed within this time period.

The percentage of suspicious filings reported up to 90 days from activity date to reporting date dropped from 14 percent in the second quarter of 2010 to 6 percent in the second quarter of 2011. Among recent suspicious activity reports, the greatest percentage – 30 percent – were reports of misrepresentation of income, occupancy, debt, and assets.

Funny, this is the same activity that assisted millions of borrowers in getting approved for a home loan they couldn’t afford – contributing to the mortgage meltdown.

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