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15 Mar 09 Loan Modifications in California

Foreclosure activity in San Diego, California dropped by nearly 12% from last month, as mortgage lenders cut back on repossessing dwellings in anticipation of President Barack Obama’s plan to help distressed homeowners. MDA DataQuick, a research firm located in San Diego reported recently that there were 1,107 foreclosures last month, a 15% drop from a year earlier. It was the first year-over-year decline in foreclosures since March 2005.

There were 2,808 notices of default in the county last month, a drop of 8% from the previous month and nearly 10% from January 2008. Such notices mark the start of the foreclosure process. Mortgage lenders are hoping that Obama’s $75 billion foreclosure-prevention program will help them avoid the expense of taking back homes and reselling them at reduced prices during the housing slump. Many San Diego homeowners have missed mortgage loan payments for several months without receiving default notices, analysts say. When mortgage lenders reclaim numerous defaulted homes, they place downward pressure on property values and reduce their own profits from foreclosure re-sales.

The Federal Government continues to put pressure on lenders to provide harder to keep people in their homes has been building since before the November election. I think we are going to see February numbers artificially low and we will see how the nation responds as the foreclosure-prevention proposals kick in March.” DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage said many home loan lenders will likely delay foreclosures even without the Obama plan, because finding alternatives to default is in their own best interest.

Federally controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and major banks JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America are delaying foreclosures through March 6, Sharga said. Obama’s foreclosure program got under way March 4th, but little progress has been made. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had suspended foreclosure sales during the winter holidays and stopped evictions from foreclosed properties through the end of this month. Together, they own or guarantee about half of all U.S. home loans. Many California homeowners have jumbo mortgage loans that exceed the loan amount limit that is targeted for relief with mortgage modification programs and mortgage refinancing for borrowers up to 105% loan to value.

According to RealtyTrac, increased efforts to loan workouts and foreclosure prevention haven’t kept pace with the deepening housing market decline. Nationally, more than 2.3 million homeowners faced foreclosure proceedings in 2008, up more than 80% from 2007, Distressed borrower Brendan Klein, 33, of San Marcos is skeptical of federal stimulus efforts. “Politicians are running around saying, ‘We are going to set this up for people in trouble,’ but none of it is happening,” Klein said. Klein, a skateboard shop manager, is trying to negotiate a loan modification to avoid foreclosure on a two-bedroom condominium he shares with his wife and 1-year-old son. Klein said he took out a risky stated-income loan to buy the home in 2004. Now that his home loan payments have adjusted higher, his budget is stretched to the limit. Unfortunately, he has been unable refinance because the home is worth $150,000 less than he paid. Klein said he doesn’t want to walk away from his debt, but he has cut back spending as far as he can. “I don’t have a gambling debt,” he said. Critics say such borrowers may receive little help from the $75 billion foreclosure-prevention program.

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    [...] to the State Department, the California loan modification program has not had much success either because borrowers still can’t afford their mortgage loan, [...]

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