Countrywide Financial Corp. said it is prepared to modify the terms of $6.2 billion in mortgages, in order to help 10,000 delinquent borrowers get current on their loans and prevent 20,000 borrowers who are up to date on their loans from defaulting when their payments adjust.
At the end of September, Countrywide reported 5.87 percent of the 8.98 million mortgages it services were delinquent, or nearly 530,000 loans. Countrywide said today it has completed 20,000 loan modifications so far this year.
While the loan modifications announced by Countrywide affect only a small percentage of loans in its $1.5 trillion servicing portfolio, the company said it has also created a special refinance unit to contact borrowers to offer refinancing into prime or FHA-backed loans. Some borrowers with credit issues may qualify for expanded criteria programs offered by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the bank said.
Countrywide said it helped 31,000 borrowers refinance into prime, fixed-rate loans so far this year, and hopes to refinance an additional 52,000 mortgages totaling $10 billion through the initiative.
The Calabasas, Calif.-based lender said that by the end of 2008, it expects to modify the terms of 20,000 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans totaling $4 billion held by borrowers who are current on their payments but who face payment resets and are unable to qualify for refinancing.
Countrywide said it has also simplified the loan modification process for ARM borrowers who are already behind on their payments because of a recent payment reset. The company is sending out letters offering a predetermined, preapproved rate reduction, and expects to modify the terms of 10,000 delinquent loans totaling $2.2 billion by the end of the year.
“We are determined to assist borrowers who have the willingness and wherewithal to remain in their homes but need a little help to do it,” Countrywide President and Chief Operating Officer David Sambol said in a statement. “Countrywide believes that none of our subprime borrowers that have demonstrated the ability to make payments should lose their home to foreclosure solely as a result of a rate reset.”
Countrywide is one of about a dozen major lenders participating in the Bush administration’s HOPE NOW partnership, a plan to coordinate the efforts of loan servicers, housing counselors and lenders to contact homeowners to prevent foreclosures.
Citing a report by Moody’s Investor Services that workouts were being conducted on less than 1 percent of troubled subprime loans, FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair this month urged servicers to engage in wholesale conversions of adjustable-rate mortgages into fixed-rate loans when borrowers are in danger of default.