By Alexandra Andrews, ProPublica
Five months into the government’s $75 billion loan modification program, less than 12% of eligible homeowners have seen their mortgage payments reduced, according to data released by the Treasury Department today. See how many loans your servicer has modified on our bailout site.
Today’s progress report is the second in a series of monthly reports showing how many mortgages each of the 45 participating loan servicers has modified since the program launched in April. As of Aug. 31, about 360,000 borrowers had entered the three-month trial period required before a loan modification is finalized. About a third of those were done in the last month.
Bank of America modified more loans in August than it had since joining the program in mid-April, but its efforts weren’t enough to pull it out from last place among the five biggest servicers. It has modified just 7% of eligible loans, leaving more than 700,000 customers waiting for help. Wells Fargo, another laggard, has modified 11% of its eligible loans, up from 6% last month.
The other top servicers, Chase, CitiMortgage and GMAC, have all modified nearly a quarter of their eligible loans, twice the group average. Altogether, the top five servicers account for 72% of all modifications underway.
Keep in mind that all the percentages included on the Treasury Department’s release are overestimates, because the pool of eligible borrowers is actually larger than the one used.
The administration has set a goal of starting 500,000 trial modifications by Nov. 1, which seems easily reachable. But don’t break out the champagne yet: Meeting that goal still leaves out around 87% of the 4 million borrowers that the administration has projected will be helped through the program. So far, the administration’s initiative has not been keeping pace with the foreclosures that have been piling up at a rate of about 300,000 a month, according to a recent report from RealtyTrac. Michael Barr, assistant treasury secretary for financial institutions, acknowledged today that more than 6 million foreclosures are expected in the next three years.
You can see our continuing coverage of the government’s loan modification program here.