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Mortgage Loan Workouts Reach Record in April

Reuters
Friday, 30 May 2008 | 11:51 AM ET

A record 183,000 U.S. homeowners avoided foreclosure in April through mortgage loan workouts, bringing the total to 1.6 million at-risk borrowers who have had mortgage terms or payment plans modified in less than a year.

AP

Loan workouts rose by 23,000 from March, as HOPE NOW, a private sector effort by mortgage servicers, counselors and investors stepped up efforts to avert foreclosures.

"HOPE NOW has every incentive to help troubled homeowners hold on to their homes, and the alliance will continue to do everything possible to reach and help as many as possible," Faith Schwartz, HOPE NOW executive director, said in a statement on Friday.

The program began in July 2007 to cope with losses tied to escalating defaults and foreclosures.

Home prices have fallen steadily since, leaving some home owners with mortgages larger than the value of their homes.

Single-family home prices tumbled a record 14.1 percent in the first three months of the year from a year earlier, according to an index from Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller.

Many borrowers also still face payment shock when their adjustable-rate mortgages reset at higher interest rates.

In April, about 106,000 of the prime and subprime loan workouts by mortgage servicers were altered repayment plans and 77,000 were loan modifications, HOPE NOW reported.

"Foreclosure benefits no one: the borrower, community, lender and investor all lose," Schwartz said.

HOPE NOW also said about 603,000 subprime adjustable-rate loans were scheduled to rest between January and April.

About 45 percent of those loans that were current at reset were paid in full when the homeowner refinanced or sold the property, according to the group.

About 5 percent of the loans have been altered, with more than 60 percent of the modifications made for at least five years.

HOPE NOW said 0.3 percent of the loans, or 927 mortgages, that were current at their reset date have since started the foreclosure process.

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