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Bankruptcy Issues Involving HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) — Part One

Posted on Monday (March 8, 2010) at 1:30 am to Bankruptcy and Society
Bankruptcy Practice
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Mortgages & Sub-Prime Mortgage Meltdown

 home in clouds Bankruptcy Issues Involving HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program)    Part OneWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
I just attended a seminar last week offered through the National Association of Chapter 13 Trustees about HAMP.  Here’s some useful information.
 
Today’s post is Part One.   I will continue tomorrow with a detailed discussion of bankrutpcy issues.
 
What Is HAMP?
 
HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) is one of President Obama’s initiatives to make a dent in home affordability by using the economic bailout program.
 
It’s a quasi-voluntary program to modify home mortgages with the goal of getting the monthly payment to 31% of gross (pre-tax) income. 
 
The program seeks to provide taxpayer-funded incentives to mortgage servicers and lenders to voluntarily modify mortgages.  The program was created in March 2009.  This government program earmarked $75 billion for this purpose.
 
HAMP will reduce a homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment on a TEMPORARY basis.  However, the adjustment becomes permanent after the homeowner makes three on-time payments.
 
The incentive for mortgage lenders in doing this is that the Obama administration is offering big bucks in incentive payments to lenders.
 
Here is the official link to Home Affordable Modification Program.
 
Home Affordable Modification Program Has Not Worked Well So Far
 
To date, results for HAMP have been very disappointing.  I wrote about this at length two months ago:  Obama’s “Making Homes Affordable” Mortgage Modification Program Failing
 
The program has only resulted in 116,000 permanent modifications in the entire country, in which each borrower is saving about $500 per month. 
 
Incidentally, these homeowners typically went from paying 45% of their gross income towards their mortgage, down to 31%, which is the goal of the program.
 
To date, only 110 mortgage servicers have signed participation agreements.  All Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans are automatically eligible.
 
Who Is Eligible for HAMP?
 
Here are the requirements:
 
1.    You must be the owner and occupant of the home and utilize it as your primary residence
2.    You must have a maximum principal balance of $729,750
3.    You must have a monthly mortgage payment that is greater than 31% of pre-tax monthly income
4.    You must be unable to afford your current payment
5.    You must not have applied for HAMP before
 
Why Have Many Considered HAMP to be a Failure So Far?
 
Many homeowners applied for HAMP assistance because they thought it would help them avoid bankruptcy. However, a great many mortgage servicers were unprepared to handle HAMP applications and were not able to process the mortgage modification requests quickly enough to offer any real relief.
 
Some problems were highly publicized.  For example, there have been lenders who refused to even acknowledge receipt of mortgage modification documents, and other lenders who lost these documents numerous times for the same homeowner.
 
To Be Continued This Week
 
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