US gov't launches sweeping new home-loan help
Updated: 2008-11-12 07:48
One reason the problem has been so tough to solve for borrowers like Courtney is that the vast majority of troubled loans were packaged into complicated investments that have proven extremely difficult to unwind.
Deutsche Bank estimates more than 80 percent of the $1.8 trillion in outstanding troubled loans have been packaged and sold in slices to investors around the world. And it appears the majority of those loans will not be helped by the new plan.
The remaining 20 percent are "whole loans," which are easier to modify because they have only one owner.
Nevertheless, Tuesday's announcement coupled with recent and more aggressive strategies from the major retail banks are important steps to fix the housing crisis. After more than a year of slow and weak initiatives, there appears to be a serious effort to get at the heart of the credit crisis: falling US home prices and record foreclosures.
Citigroup announced late Monday it is halting foreclosures for borrowers who live in their own homes, have decent incomes and stand a good chance of making lowered mortgage payments. The New York-based banking giant also said it is also working to expand the program to include mortgages for which the bank collects payments but does not own.
Additionally, over the next six months, Citi plans to reach out to 500,000 homeowners who are not currently behind on their mortgage payments, but who are on the verge of falling behind. This represents about one-third of all the mortgages that Citigroup owns, the bank said.
Citi plans to devote a team of 600 salespeople to assist the targeted borrowers by adjusting their rates, reducing principal or increasing the term of the loan.
Late last month, JPMorgan Chase & Co expanded its mortgage modification program to an estimated $70 billion in loans, which could aid as many as 400,000 customers. The New York-based bank has already modified about $40 billion in mortgages, helping 250,000 customers since early 2007.
Bank of America, meanwhile, has said that starting Dec. 1, it will modify an estimated 400,000 loans held by newly acquired Countrywide Financial Corp. as part of an $8.4 billion legal settlement reached with 11 states in early October.
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