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Non-Government Loan Modifications Doing More to Help

The government has been trying to stem the flow of foreclosures, but many have criticized the effectiveness of government programs.  Banks are now doing nearly twice as many modifications under their own foreclosure prevention initiatives than under the Obama administration's signature Home Affordable Modification Program, known as HAMP.  These banks finally realized that just moving forward with foreclosures for every home in mortgage trouble wasn't doing anyone any good, so they've taken action.  In the first half of this year, loan servicers report that they have completed 644,000 loan modifications, compared to 332,000 under the Obama program.  Most are adjustments that lower principal and/or interest rates.  In assisting borrowers, Wells Fargo announced that more than $3.1 billion in principal reductions on 60,000 loans had been completed in the last 18 months.  There are critics of these bank loan modifications, however.  While there isn't a lot of information available on modifications outside of HAMP, there are stories of unfavorable terms that may keep a homeowner in the home, but move problems out in time.  One Atlanta school teacher in a trial HAMP modification, who Chase Bank said did not qualify for HAMP, received an in-house loan modification that increased her trial HAMP payment, ran the loan out to 40 years, and put a large balloon payment on the end, according to a CNN Money article.  While it may allow her to keep her home now, there could be a major problem later in trying to sell and pay off her obligation.

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