Tuesday, December 23, 2008

HOPE NOW Projects Big Increases in Foreclosure Prevention Successes in 2009

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- HOPE NOW, the private sector alliance of mortgage servicers, counselors, and investors that has been working aggressively to prevent foreclosures and keep homeowners in their homes, today announced that it expects to double the number of foreclosures prevented in 2009 by enhancing and expanding its very successful 2008 efforts.

HOPE NOW's success is evident from the total 2008 results it can now project based on the actual 11-month data it is reporting today:

  • A projected total of approximately 2.2 million foreclosure preventions
  • Almost 950,000 mortgage modifications
  • More than 20,000 homeowners helped at 29 workshops held across the United States
  • More than 1 million total calls from homeowners to the Hope Hotline.
  • An average of more than 7,000 calls per day to the Hope Hotline that was available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
  • 2.9 million letters sent to at-risk homeowners
  • An 18% response rate to the letters sent by HOPE NOW to at-risk homeowners, 6 times more than the typical response rate servicers receive when they send their own mailings.

In addition to these numerical achievements, in 2008 HOPE NOW also accomplished two important procedural milestones that have greatly expedited the foreclosure prevention process:

  • In June, HOPE NOW members agreed to a set of guidelines that, among other things, committed servicers to a much faster and simplified foreclosure prevention process. The guidelines also established the first-ever agreement for dealing with second liens, which until then had been a major sticking point in the foreclosure prevention process.
  • In November, HOPE NOW worked with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to create the Streamlined Modification Program (SMP), a much faster modification approval process for the most at-risk homeowners that went into effect December 15.

"No one did more to prevent foreclosures in 2008 than HOPE NOW," said Faith Schwartz, HOPE NOW's executive director. "But, because there's more to do, in 2009 HOPE NOW is going to substantially expand its already successful efforts to make it even easier for at-risk homeowners to avoid foreclosure."

HOPE NOW's 2009 plans include:

  • An expected doubling of the number of modifications from the already high 2008 level. This will result an increased capacity of servicers to handle modification requests, the streamlined modification program, and the commitment by major institutions to modify loans on purchased portfolios. Depending on unemployment and other economic conditions, this could increase the number of modifications to 2 million or more next year.
  • At least 30 additional homeowner workshops
  • At least a 50% increase in the number of homeowners who attend workshops
  • Additional innovative ways to provide counseling and other assistance to homeowners such as phone-a-thons
  • A major web-based initiative that will supplement the existing ability of homeowners to begin the foreclosure prevention process through the Hope Hotline
  • A very important and extremely visible enhancement to HOPE NOW's existing efforts to reach at-risk homeowners that by itself could double or triple the number of homeowners helped by HOPE NOW
  • Significantly enhanced loan-level data that will help the industry further analyze trends and make necessary adjustments to help prevent foreclosures and provide policymakers with important additional information.

"HOPE NOW deserves a great deal of credit for the nearly 3 million foreclosures it will have prevented by the end of 2008," said Steve Bartlett, president and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable. "The weak U.S. economy will present additional problems in 2009 and HOPE NOW's success this year will be the solid foundation needed to meet those challenges," he said.

"The mortgage lending industry has shown enormous flexibility and commitment in the face of this past year's constantly changing economic outlook," said John Courson, chief operating officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "The plans HOPE NOW has for 2009 demonstrate clearly that the whole mortgage lending industry will continue to serve the needs of homeowners no matter what the situation," he added.

Colleen Hernandez, president and executive director of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, which owns and operates the Hope Hotline, said that the 2008 results prove that phone counseling of homeowners is extremely effective. "The Hope Hotline was the only mortgage counseling service that was available to homeowners this year whenever they wanted or needed to call," she said. "That level and quality of service will be needed even more in 2009."

November Foreclosure Prevention Results

HOPE NOW also announced today that the mortgage industry prevented 208,000 foreclosures in November 2008 and a total of 651,000 in September, October, and November. This is the highest three-month total since HOPE NOW began to compile data in July 2007.

The November results, which are a slight change from the 225,000 foreclosure preventions completed in October, is the result of the five fewer working days in that month. The number of foreclosure preventions per day was greater in November than it was in October.

Approximately 2 million foreclosures have been prevented by the mortgage lending industry in the first 11 months of 2008, 25% more than the approximately 1.5 million prevented in all of 2007. If the current trend continues, in 2008 the mortgage lending industry will prevent approximately 2.2 million foreclosures, 45% more than in 2007.

November was the third consecutive month that total modifications exceeded 100,000. Since HOPE NOW began to compile data, over 1 million modifications have been completed, including a projected 950,000 in 2008.

Over the past three months, the number of modifications has increased by almost 29%, while the number of payment plans has increased by almost 6%. This increasing reliance on modifications rather than payment plans is expected to continue as economic conditions warrant.

The HOPE NOW November data also shows:

  • For the first time, HOPE NOW members and the broader mortgage lending industry prevented more than 200,000 foreclosures in three consecutive months.
  • Almost 30% of the homeowners with prime loans who received workouts in November received modifications.
  • Nearly 62% of the homeowners with subprime loans who received workouts in November received modifications.
  • The number of foreclosures started in November was 16,000 less than the number started in October.
  • For the sixth month in a row, the number of foreclosure starts for prime loans exceeded those for subprime.

A summary table of the results is attached and can be found at

http://www.hopenow.com/media/press_release.php.

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