Gov’t Has Spent Small Fraction of $50 Billion Pledged for Loan Mods

From ProPublica by by Paul Kiel.

There are two main reasons why so little money has been paid out. First, there have been few modifications done through the program. The government only pays incentives for finalized modifications, not trials. For instance, even though $8.3 billion has been set aside for Bank of America, it won’t get that money unless it provides modifications.

Second, incentives are paid out over time. For instance, homeowners in the program receive a $1,000 reduction to their mortgage each year for five years if they stay current on the modified loan. The program is less than two year old, and few modifications were given during the first year.

Incentives are paid to three different groups: homeowners, investors, and banks and other companies who service the loans (The four biggest servicers of mortgages are also the U.S.’s largest banks: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup.) So far, the servicers have kept most of the money paid out: $231.5 million all told. Investors (lenders and mortgage-backed securities investors) and homeowners have received $129.2 million and $34.7 million, respectively. Our database breaks those amounts down for each servicer.

It’s hard to estimate just how much Treasury will ultimately use of the $50 billion. One reason is that a portion of the modifications will default, so all the incentives for each modification will not be paid out. Of modifications completed a year ago, about 21 percent have already defaulted, according to Treasury data.