A sign of relief from JPMORGAN CHASE

Posted on November 2, 2008. Filed under: First Time Buyer help |

Good news from JPMorgan Chase.  Read this article from www.businessweek.com

 In what may the biggest sign yet that banks are getting serious about attacking the nationwide wave of home foreclosures, giant JPMorgan Chase (JPM) announced on Oct. 31 that it is sharply ramping up its efforts to restructure the loans in its massive mortgage portfolio. For the next 90 days, JPMorgan will not place any new homes into foreclosure.

The banking behemoth, which acquired troubled lender Washington Mutual on Sept. 25, says it hopes to modify terms for 400,000 homeowners, accounting for $70 billion in loans. Among the steps it is taking: eliminating toxic “pay option” loans, offering new loan terms to homeowners before they default, and hiring an additional 300 loan counselors to bring the company’s total to 2,500. “While Chase has helped many families already, we feel it is our responsibility to provide additional help to homeowners during these challenging times,” said Charlie Scharf, head of Chase’s retail financial services, in a prepared statement.

The JPMorgan Chase announcement comes as the U.S. bailout strategy seems to be shifting from the initial approach of having the Treasury Dept. buy $700 billion worth of troubled mortgage assets from lenders, to investing directly in big banks to spur more loans (BusinessWeek, 10/29/08), and now toward a coordinated effort to restructure loan terms for individual borrowers. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Shelia Bair has been pushing to have the federal government take a more active roll in loan restructurings (BusinessWeek.com, 10/30/08). The effort could be modeled after the fast-track mortgage modification program the FDIC put in place after taking over failed IndyMac bank in July.

More Than 2.2 Million Are 60 Days Late
The banking and mortgage industries have been criticized for not doing enough to prevent foreclosures and to modify the terms of troubled loans. According to the most recent data compiled by the Hope Now Alliance of lenders, counselers, and other industry players, lenders started the foreclosure process on 565,000 homeowners in this year’s third quarter. Some 265,000 homes were actually foreclosed on, nearly twice the number from the third quarter of 2007. Moreover, more than 2.2 million homeowners are more than 60 days delinquent in their mortgage payments, also a near doubling from last year.

The Hope Now Alliance was put together to keep borrowers in their homes. However, while Hope Now says it reached loan modification terms with 593,000 borrowers in this year’s third quarter, only 265,000 actually had the terms of their loans changed. The rest merely entered into payment plans, typically where the bank agrees to be repaid past-due payments and late fees over time. Mortgage industry critics say borrowers aren’t really out of danger unless the interest rates or principal is reduced, lowering monthly payments.

With IndyMac, the FDIC is reducing interest rates (BusinessWeek, 10/8/08), typically for five years, in an effort to keep borrowers’ payments to no more than 34% of their monthly income.

No More Pay-Option Mortgages
JPMorgan Chase says it’s reviewing its entire portfolio to determine which homeowners may be in trouble. The company says it will eliminate pay-option ARMs, a controversial type of adjustable-rate mortgage that allowed borrowers to defer part of their monthly payments, rolling the difference onto the principal they owed. Borrowers were often enticed to take such loans by the lower payments but now find themselves owing even more on their dwellings, even as home values have slid. A recent study by research firm First American CoreLogic found nearly one in five borrowers in the U.S. owes more on a home than it is worth.

New York City-based JPMorgan Chase also says it will proactively contact borrowers with prequalified offers to reduce their interest rates or loan principals and establish 24 new regional counseling centers to provide face-to-face help in markets with high delinquency rates. Many borrowers in trouble say it is difficult to reach lenders when they want to renegotiate loans. Many often feel they have to stop making payments to get a bank’s attention.

On Oct. 6, Bank of America (BAC) announced a settlement with attorneys general in 11 states that involved an aggressive loan modification program involving 400,000 borrowers and $8.4 billion in interest rate reductions. Bank of America’s Countrywide division had been accused by state officials of putting borrowers into loans they couldn’t afford during the boom just so it could resell those loans to Wall Street at a fat profit. Bank of America acquired Countrywide in July. 

We at the WeeksTeam feel this news from JPMorgan Chase is very positive and hope more banks follow in their progressive footsteps.  Contact your lender for more information on loan modification and contact us for all your housing needs.  It remains a GREAT TIME to buy a HOME. 

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    Orange County, CA Real Estate for hip first-time buyers and investors. Plus, fun things to know and do in OC.

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