The Obama administration's foreclosure relief plan is off to a slower-than-expected start, partly because of what the government calls an "uneven" performance by loan services, with some of the biggest financial firms showing poor participation rates.
Treasury Tuesday released the first of what it says will be detailed monthly reports on the loan modification program, known as Making Home Affordable.
Thus far, some 230,000 modifications are underway, according to the report. More than 400,000 modification offers have been extended. About 1.4 million borrowers have sought information about the program. (Success-rate data are not available yet because participants must stay current on their loans for three months.)
The Treasury report said though the program had made "rapid progress" it conceded that "servicer performance has been uneven."
The Treasury's point man on the project, Michael Barr, the Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, said he was "disappointed in the results of some of the servicers", but added that all of them have "operational elements they need to approve."
Just last week, after a high-profile meeting between servicers and officials from Treasury and HUD, the Obama administration essentially lowered its goal for modifications in the the first six months of the program, saying it wanted to rework 500,000 loans by November.
When it was first outlined in late February, the White House said it hoped to modify 3-4 million mortgages in two years, which would mean 375,000 to 500 million a quarter.
For the first time, the government data showed specific results for the participating firms based on loans that were delinquent by 60 days or more. More than three dozen firms are participating, including such industry giants (or their subsidiaries) as JPMorgan Chase , Citgroup, Wells Fargo , Bank of Americaand Goldman Sachs .
In general, the bigger firms had some of the lowest offer rates, while smaller ones had the best. Wells, for instance, has extended offers to just 12 percent of those eligible, Bank of America, which has the most loans eligible under the program (796,000) had 13-percent rate.
The best performers among the top banks were JPMorgan (30 percent) and Citigroup (21 percent), which is partly owned by the government.
NationstarMortgage ranked first with a 45-percent offer rate. Saxon Mortgage Services (37 percent) and AuroraLoan Services (36 percent) were next.
Though some of those rates might appear impressive, data on participation rates tells another story. Only 19 percent of Nationstar's eligible borrowers had actually undertaken a modification.
JP Morgan, which has extended the most offers (117,259), had managed 20 percent.
Saxon, another big player in the program, had a 25-percent rate.