Closing On A Home? Tips For Understanding the HUD-1

When you agree to purchase a home and begin the closing process, you’ll be issued an HUD-1 Settlement Statement. The HUD-1 will detail the costs associated with the purchase of the property and will identify which party is responsible for which cost. On this form, however, some charges are aggregated together so that only the total is shown, thus it won’t provide specific details on that category of charges. Real estate professionals involved in the transaction, like a real estate agent, broker or attorney can help answer any questions regarding these closing costs.

The details of the HUD-1

The first page of the HUD-1 is divided into two columns. These are sections J and K. Section J is a summary of your transaction and section K is a summary of the seller’s transaction. This page will show you how much you owe the seller and includes settlement charges and adjustments to the transaction. At the bottom of the page are lines 303 and 603. Line 202 shows how much the buyer owes or is owed and Line 603 will detail how much the seller owes or is owed.

Settlement costs are found on page two of the HUD-1 under section L. These costs are broken into a number of categories including real estate broker fees, items required by the lender to be paid in advance, items payable in connection with the loan, reserves deposited with the lender, title insurance charges, government recording and transfer charges as well as additional settlement charges. The totals of charges are found at Line 1400 at the bottom of the page and are referenced on lines 103 for the borrower and 502 for the seller on the first page.

The third page of the HUD-1 Settlement State shows the charges from the buyer’s Good Faith Estimate issued by the lender to allow buyers and their real estate agent to see any increases in charges. While increases in charges are not uncommon fees under the “Charges that Cannot Increase” section are a tolerance violation and the lender is required to pay those fees. There’s also a section titled “Charges that in Total Cannot Increase More Than 10 Percent” and any fees greater than 10 percent must be paid by the lender. Buyers should remember that there is a section that includes charges that can change and the buyer is responsible for any of these increases.

Loan terms on the third page include the loan amount, term, interest rate and other payment information.

-from First American Exchange Newsletter -The Exchange Update

 

 

 

 

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Interest Rates Hover at Record Lows

Concerns about the strength of the economy have recently taken Treasury yields to new lows. This, in turn, is causing fixed-rate mortgages to remain low.

Homeowners are taking advantage of the low interest rates. The refinance index recently reached a three-year high. Also, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) projects to receive 630,000 refinance applications for fiscal year 2012, a 23% increase from the previous 12 months.

The vast majority of refinancing is going into fixed-rate mortgages. The adjustable-rate share of mortgage activity recently fell to 4.1% of all mortgage applications.

At the same time, home prices are increasing. Zillow reported a second-quarter increase nationwide for the first time since 2007. Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller housing price index is also reporting monthly price increases.

When thinking about refinancing, there are some important things to consider. For instance, if refinancing to a lower rate will save $125 a month, you, or your client, should then factor in the tax rate. If the Federal tax rate is in the 25% tax bracket, the actual savings will be $94 a month.*

Another consideration is how long it will take to recover the refinancing costs. If the costs are $4,000, it will take 43 months ($4,000 divided by $94) to recoup those costs. Then, refinancing is a good option even for those who might move in five years. If, however, the refinancing costs are $6,000, it will take 64 months ($6,000 divided by $94) to recover the costs, which, if planning to move in five years, would not be a good option.

* For example, a typical FHA loan of $300,000 has 360 monthly payments of $1,432.25; 4.000% interest rate, 4.117% APR. The monthly payment does not include taxes and insurance premiums.

from Prospect Mortgage Industry Insider

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FHA Streamline Refinancing Fees Reduced

The White House recently announced significant changes that will reduce the fees charged for the Federal Housing Administration‘s (FHA) Streamline Refinance Program.

Beginning June 11, 2012, the Streamline Refinance upfront fee of 1% will be reduced to 0.01% of the total loan amount. And the annual fee will be lowered from 1.15% to 0.55% of the total loan amount.

By refinancing through this streamlined process, the average qualified FHA-insured borrower will save approximately $3,000 a year or $250 per month, on top of any savings from refinancing to a lower mortgage rate.

The “streamline” refers to the minimal amount of documentation and underwriting that needs to be performed. Streamline refinancing can be done without an appraisal or income verification, providing the person(s) on the loan hasn’t changed.

There are no loan-to-value (LTV) restrictions on streamline refinancing. This is significant for underwater borrowers whose loan amount may exceed the current value of their home. However, second liens must subordinate with a maximum combined LTV ratio of 115% based on the original appraised value of the property.

The basic requirements of a streamline refinance are:

  • The loan must already be FHA insured and endorsed on or before May 31, 2009.
  • Borrowers must be current on their mortgage payments with no late payment in the previous 12 months.
  • The refinance must result in a lowering of the borrower’s monthly principal and interest payments.

Currently, 3.4 million households with loans endorsed on or before May 31, 2009, pay more than a 5% annual interest rate on their FHA-insured mortgages.

from Prospect Mortgage Industry Insider

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Short-sale debt collection draws ire – Why are banks getting tax break while also pursuing discharged debt?

Homebuyers may be attracted to the big bargains that foreclosures and preforeclosures can offer. But distressed properties can involve tricky, lengthy transactions, and there’s a lot to think about before jumping in.

In fact, some home shoppers have shunned short sales altogether, preferring a more reliable process to a reduction in price. Getting all parties to agree to a short-sale price can be problematic, and lenders have been known to change their minds when more bidders surface.

Given the difficulty and uncertainty of negotiating a short-sale transaction, you would think lenders would bend over backward to make things easier for the consumer once the deal is finally done.

But it appears some lenders are seeking an additional pound of flesh long after the frustrated, exhausted and often financially drained seller has moved on.

Short sales occur when owners, often in distress, sell their homes for less than the amount they owe their lenders. The lender may then write off the remainder of the debt and receive tax benefits.

Some lenders, however, will also assign or sell the remaining debt obligation to third-party debt collectors, often for pennies on the dollar. The third-party debt collector can then use the legal system to continue to pursue the former homeowner for the balance owed.

This has become such an issue that legislators in Olympia, Wash., have taken action. Senate Bill 6337, proposed by David Frockt, D-Seattle, would protect short-sale sellers from being pursued by lenders or their assignees for the difference between the sale price and remaining loan balance.

“The banks will basically have to make a choice,” Frockt said, “to either write off the amount and take the tax benefit, or pursue the owner — but they cannot do both.”

When a lender agrees to a short sale, it can either retain the ability to collect from the short-sale seller the amount of mortgage debt owed by the seller that is not satisfied by the purchase price, or it can discharge all or a portion of the unsatisfied debt amount.

If a lender discharges debt, it reports this discharge of debt to the Internal Revenue Service on a 1099-C Cancellation of Debt Form. The issuance of the 1099-C allows the lender to take a tax deduction for the loss represented by the amount of debt discharged, and this same amount of debt discharged becomes taxable income to the short-sale seller.

After the taxpayers bailed out the mortgage industry, many borrowers are still unable to get a loan modification to stay in their homes. Now the industry has a sketchy-to-lousy national reputation, and more stringent qualifying standards are not helping their case.

In light of all this, how can some lenders knowingly seek both a tax deduction for the mortgage debt not paid while also seeking to collect that same mortgage debt?

“Yes, we have heard of this happening,” said Deborah Bortner, director of consumer services for the Washington state Department of Financial Institutions.

“I hear it mostly from attorneys or others who assist those in obtaining a short sale. I understand that the documentation provided by the institutions doesn’t always make it clear whether they will pursue a short sale or not. The consumer only finds out later when contacted by someone trying to collect the deficiency.”

In some instances, mortgage debt collection rights have been referred to third-party debt collection companies, even though short-sale sellers have paid income tax on the amount of this discharged debt.

“This is another step to help the short-sale process that is keeping many homeowners from the tragedy of foreclosure,” said Faye Nelson, president of the Washington Association of Realtors. “Nearly 40 percent of the inventory in the Puget Sound region right now is short sales. State legislators recognize that protecting this process is critical to homeownership and the housing market.”

By Tom Kelly, Wednesday, March 7, 2012.

Inman News®Tom Kelly’s new e-book, “Bargains Beyond the Border: Get Past the Blood and Drugs: Mexico’s Lower Cost of Living Can Avert a Tearful Retirement,” is available online at Apple’s iBookstore, Amazon.com, Sony’s Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel eBook Store, and Google Editions.

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FHA Insurance Premiums Will Increase Soon

If your clients are considering buying or refinancing a home, you should let them know that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will soon increase mortgage insurance premiums on FHA home loans.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it would increase the annual mortgage insurance premium (MIP) by 0.10% for FHA loans under $625,500. This would raise the fee from 1.15% to 1.25% of the total loan amount. This annual premium increase — which is broken down into monthly payments — takes effect April 1, 2012.

In addition, HUD announced it would raise the FHA’s upfront annual mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) from 1% to 1.75% effective April 1, 2012.

Starting June 1, 2012, the MIP for FHA loans over $625,500 will increase 0.35%, raising that fee to 1.50% of the total loan amount.

The primary reason for the changes is to bolster capital reserves for FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. Congress has mandated the fund keep 2% in reserves. Last year, that reserve had slipped to 0.2%. The changes are expected to generate about $1 billion annually for the fund.

The increase in mortgage insurance costs applies to the purchase or refinancing of all FHA loans regardless of the amortization term or loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. The increases will not apply to borrowers already in an FHA-insured mortgage, a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), and other special loan programs to be outlined in a forthcoming FHA Mortgagee Letter.

For your customers considering refinancing or making a purchase, they might want to act before the new mortgage insurance premiums take effect.

from Prospect Mortgage Industry Insider

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8 things you should know about down payments

Q: What is the down payment?

 

A: The down payment is the property value less the loan amount. It is not the same as the borrower’s cash outlay if some of that outlay is used for settlement costs. On a newly constructed home, the land value can be part or all of the down payment.

Q: If the appraised value of a home exceeds the sale price, can the difference be applied to the down payment?

A: No, the property value upon which down payment requirements are based is the lower of sale price and appraised value. An appraisal higher than the price is disregarded.

Q: What is the down payment?

 

A: The down payment is the property value less the loan amount. It is not the same as the borrower’s cash outlay if some of that outlay is used for settlement costs. On a newly constructed home, the land value can be part or all of the down payment.

Q: If the appraised value of a home exceeds the sale price, can the difference be applied to the down payment?

A: No, the property value upon which down payment requirements are based is the lower of sale price and appraised value. An appraisal higher than the price is disregarded.

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But there is an important exception, called a gift of equity, where the home seller is someone near and dear, usually a family member, who is willing to sell below market value. In such cases, the lender will probably require two appraisals, and the seller must follow Internal Revenue Service rules to avoid gift taxes, but those are minor nuisances.

Q: Can a home seller contribute to the buyer’s down payment?

A: No, because of a presumption that such contributions will be associated with a higher sales price. However, subject to limits, home sellers are allowed to pay purchasers’ settlement costs. This reduces the cash drain on purchasers, allowing more of it to be used as down payment.

Q: Can the lender contribute to the buyer’s down payment in exchange for a higher interest rate?

A: No, but lender rebates or “negative points” can be used to pay settlement costs as a possible alternative to seller contributions.

Q: Can cash gifts be used as a down payment?

A: Only if the gift comes from a relative or live-in partner who can document its source. Gifts from parties to the transaction such as home sellers or builders are not acceptable as down payment funds because of the presumption that the gift affects other parts of the transaction, especially the sale price.

The lender must also be convinced that the gift is not a disguised loan with a repayment obligation that might reduce the borrower’s ability to repay the mortgage.

Borrowers who receive undocumented cash gifts can include them as part of their own funds if they can show that the funds have been in their account for at least 60 days. They should have two monthly statements issued after the funds are deposited in the account.

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-264874p1.html" mce_href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-264874p1.html">House and calculator image</a> via Shutterstock.com.House and calculator image via Shutterstock.com.

Q: What is the down payment?

 

A: The down payment is the property value less the loan amount. It is not the same as the borrower’s cash outlay if some of that outlay is used for settlement costs. On a newly constructed home, the land value can be part or all of the down payment.

Q: If the appraised value of a home exceeds the sale price, can the difference be applied to the down payment?

A: No, the property value upon which down payment requirements are based is the lower of sale price and appraised value. An appraisal higher than the price is disregarded.

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But there is an important exception, called a gift of equity, where the home seller is someone near and dear, usually a family member, who is willing to sell below market value. In such cases, the lender will probably require two appraisals, and the seller must follow Internal Revenue Service rules to avoid gift taxes, but those are minor nuisances.

Q: Can a home seller contribute to the buyer’s down payment?

A: No, because of a presumption that such contributions will be associated with a higher sales price. However, subject to limits, home sellers are allowed to pay purchasers’ settlement costs. This reduces the cash drain on purchasers, allowing more of it to be used as down payment.

Q: Can the lender contribute to the buyer’s down payment in exchange for a higher interest rate?

A: No, but lender rebates or “negative points” can be used to pay settlement costs as a possible alternative to seller contributions.

Q: Can cash gifts be used as a down payment?

A: Only if the gift comes from a relative or live-in partner who can document its source. Gifts from parties to the transaction such as home sellers or builders are not acceptable as down payment funds because of the presumption that the gift affects other parts of the transaction, especially the sale price.

The lender must also be convinced that the gift is not a disguised loan with a repayment obligation that might reduce the borrower’s ability to repay the mortgage.

Borrowers who receive undocumented cash gifts can include them as part of their own funds if they can show that the funds have been in their account for at least 60 days. They should have two monthly statements issued after the funds are deposited in the account.

Q: Are there any substitutes for a down payment?

A: In principle, any collateral acceptable to the lender could serve as a substitute for a down payment. The only such substitute found in the U.S. is securities, which must be posted as collateral with an investment bank that also makes mortgage loans. Borrowers who do this are betting that the return on the securities will exceed the mortgage rate.

Mortgage insurance and second mortgages can also be viewed as substitutes for down payment. They do not provide the first mortgage lender with additional collateral, but they shift a major part of the risk of the low-down-payment loan to a third party who is paid by the borrower for assuming it. The payment is either a mortgage insurance premium or a relatively high interest rate on a second mortgage.

Q: Is it wise to withdraw funds from a 401(k) to make a down payment?

A: Withdrawing funds is very unwise, as you would be hit with taxes and penalties, but borrowing against your account might make sense, provided your employer allows it. The cost of borrowing against your 401(k) is not the loan rate, which you pay to yourself, but the return the money would have earned if left in the account.

The risk is that if you lose your job, or change employers, you must pay back the loan in full within a short period, often 60 days. Otherwise, the loan is treated as a withdrawal and subjected to taxes and penalties. Loans from a 401(k) cannot be rolled over into a 401(k) account at a new employer.

Q: What are the costs and benefits of making a larger down payment than is required?

A. The cost is measured by the rate of return you could earn on the money if you invest it rather than use it for a larger down payment. The benefit is measured by the mortgage interest rate, as that rate determines the interest savings on the amount you don’t borrow.

If you increase your down payment by $10,000 on a 4 percent mortgage, you earn 4 percent on the $10,000 you didn’t borrow.

A possible additional benefit arises when the larger down payment reduces the cost of the loan by lowering either the mortgage interest rate or the mortgage insurance premium.

My calculator 12a shows the total rate of return on investment in a larger down payment taking account of any such cost reductions.

By Jack Guttentag, Monday, December 19, 2011.

Inman News®

The writer is professor of finance emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Comments and questions can be left at www.mtgprofessor.com.

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Bring back FHA 203(k) loan for investors

Two years ago, the National Association of Realtors, the largest trade group in the nation with 1 million members, floated its idea of a housing solution to attendees at its annual convention.

NAR later presented Congress with a Four-Point Housing Stimulus Plan to help stabilize the housing and mortgage markets. The crux of the package suggested using $130 billion of the $700 federal billion bailout funds on housing, specifically earmarked for an interest-rate buydown and more tax credits.

That buydown idea did not happen. It would have been a one-percentage-point, interest-rate buydown on fixed-rate loans for all buyers. The reduction reportedly would have resulted in approximately 840,000 additional home sales and reduced the inventory of homes by as much as 20 percent.

What was adopted was an $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit and a new existing homeowner tax credit of $6,500. The first-time bonus was especially popular, even extended for an additional period.

This year, NAR crafted a five-point proposal, New Solutions for America’s Housing Crisis, that really does not contain any new ideas at all, rather a restoration of old guidelines and programs.

While each “point” contains about five subtitles that could easily stand alone, the proposal focuses on higher lending limits, no reductions in the mortgage interest deduction, reinstatement of the FHA 203(k) program for investors, and relaxed mortgage guidelines for second homes.

The investor message came through loud and clear, particularly because Florida credits its rebound to investors and international second-home buyers. According to Moe Veissi, NAR president-elect, a 10-year supply of condominiums has been reduced to seven months due to cash transactions by investors looking to hold the properties for long-term rentals.

“Investors are not healthy to the market during bubble years, but they can help speed up the recovery in a down market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

Owner-occupants continue to use popular 203(k) loans, which allow the borrower to finance both the purchase of the property and upgrades into one mortgage guaranteed by the government.

However, for the past 15 years, FHA has maintained a moratorium on allowing investors to use the 203(k) program because of past abuses in how the refurbished properties were appraised.

Most mortgage loans provide only permanent financing. Typically, the lender will not close the loan and release the money unless the condition and value of the property provide adequate loan security. When rehabilitation is involved, the lender usually requires improvements to be finished before a long-term mortgage is granted.

When a buyer wants to purchase a house that needs repair or updating, the buyer usually has to obtain interim financing to purchase the dwelling, then additional financing to do the work. When the rehab is completed, a permanent mortgage — which pays off the interim loans — is made.

(Interim financing often involves relatively high interest rates and relatively short payback periods.)

The FHA 203(k) program was designed to roll all financing into one package. The borrower can take out one mortgage loan, at a long-term fixed or adjustable rate, to finance both the acquisition and the rehabilitation of the property. The mortgage amount is based on the “as will be” (projected) value of the property and takes into account the cost of the work.

FHA 203(k) loans are available for purchase or refinance. The refinance component can combine all existing loans plus provide the funds for needed repairs.

To minimize risk to the mortgage lender, the loan is eligible for endorsement by FHA as soon as the mortgage proceeds are disbursed and a rehabilitation escrow account is established. At that point, the lender has a fully insured mortgage.

The FHA 203(k) loan can come in handy in a foreclosure sale — and especially to investors around the country. In many cases, the previous owner has taken fixtures or the structure is in dire need of repair. Loan proceeds would provide for the updates and the permanent financing.

It’s time to let investors back under the FHA 203(k) umbrella. It’s past time to get vacant homes cleaned up and alive again with occupants.

By Tom Kelly, Wednesday, December 14, 2011.

Inman News®

Tom Kelly’s new e-book, “Bargains Beyond the Border: Get Past the Blood and Drugs: Mexico’s Lower Cost of Living Can Avert a Tearful Retirement,” is available online at Apple’s iBookstore, Amazon.com, Sony’s Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel eBook Store, and Google Editions. 

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As the Nation’s Second Largest 203K Lender, Prospect Sees Demand Growing for Renovation Loans

Currently, foreclosures account for about 30% of all home sales in the U.S. Many of these homes have been neglected and are in need of repair. These market conditions have made renovation loans a hot item.

Renovation loans are very attractive for a number of reasons. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) 203K renovation loan provides the money to both purchase the home and finance the home’s renovation. The down payment required on a renovation loan can be as low as 3.5%. Renovation loans are also very convenient. With one loan, there’s only one application, one set of fees, one closing and one monthly payment. At closing, the repair money is put into a special account for disbursement as repairs are completed.

Prospect has seen a sharp rise in the demand for renovation loans. To better service these increasingly popular loans, Prospect has put an experienced Renovation Management Team in place; implemented training and certification programs for Loan Officers originating renovation loans; and developed a Fast Track Team to expedite the renovation loan process.

Consequently, Prospect has increased its renovation loan market share in the past couple of years by more than 80%. In fact, today Prospect is the second largest FHA 203K renovation lender in the nation.

Only a limited number of lenders offer 203K financing. With foreclosure sales running six times higher than normal — and many of these homes in need of repair — just knowing about renovation loans may make the vital difference to motivate your buyers to purchase.

from Prospect Mortgage Industry Insider

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Consider this before you get a reverse mortgage

Reverse mortgages can help older peope in need of extra cash.  They allow homeowners ages 62 and older to access their home’s equity for any financial purpose.  If the owner remains in the home, the loan doesn’t have to be paid back (payback occurs when the home is sold).

The drawbacks?  Although the new federally backed Home Equity Conversion Mortgage SaverLoan is cheaper than older versions, (0.01% of a home’s value vs. 2%), borrowing limits are smaller and interest rates higher.  Add to that annual insurance costs of 1.25% of a home’s value.  “Throw in the loan-origination fee, appraisal and other upfront costs, and we’re potentially talking big bucks,” says Ray Brown, co-author of Mortgages for Dummies.  So consider:

Will you stay long?  The longer you stay in your home, the more you can spread out the expense. 

Does your home fit?  “A reverse mortgage enables some folks to remain in a house that’s highly unsuitable for them – too big, too many stairs, not energy efficient,” says Brown.  “Downsizing into a smaller home is one way to free up the equity in your big, old empty nest.”

Jeff Wuorio – from USA WEEKEND magazine

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Loan mod portals a win-win for real estate

Will the rule that all mortgage servicers must designate one employee as a single point of contact for every borrower requesting a loan modification make the process easier for borrowers to navigate?”

The rule to which you refer was issued earlier this year by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). It was part of a package of enforcement actions taken against eight of the largest national bank mortgage servicers for unsafe and unsound practices related to mortgage servicing.

This particular action required the servicers to provide each applicant with the name of a single point of contact (SPOC) along with “one or more direct means of communication with the contact.” Shortly thereafter, Treasury announced that SPOC would be the rule for all servicers participating in the Making Home Affordable Program.

Since poor communication between servicers and borrowers has been a core problem bedeviling the mortgage modifications problem, the SPOC seems like a sensible idea. In fact, SPOC will not improve communication with borrowers.

“Will the rule that all mortgage servicers must designate one employee as a single point of contact for every borrower requesting a loan modification make the process easier for borrowers to navigate?”

The rule to which you refer was issued earlier this year by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). It was part of a package of enforcement actions taken against eight of the largest national bank mortgage servicers for unsafe and unsound practices related to mortgage servicing.

This particular action required the servicers to provide each applicant with the name of a single point of contact (SPOC) along with “one or more direct means of communication with the contact.” Shortly thereafter, Treasury announced that SPOC would be the rule for all servicers participating in the Making Home Affordable Program.

Since poor communication between servicers and borrowers has been a core problem bedeviling the mortgage modifications problem, the SPOC seems like a sensible idea. In fact, SPOC will not improve communication with borrowers.

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For example, informing a borrower that “Henceforth, Jane Doe is your contact person and her email address is jdoe@lenderZ.com” won’t actually help the borrower unless Jane has quick access to the most current information about the status of the application, which today is very unlikely.

The crux of the communication problem is not the lack of an SPOC — it is inadequate systems for capturing in one place all the information needed to resolve an application for a modification, and for making it available to all the persons involved.

If the servicer has an easily accessible system that shows what has been done, what remains to be done, and what additional information is required from the borrower, any customer service representative can provide the same information to the borrower.

In such case, the requirement that each borrower can communicate only with an SPOC can only reduce efficiency. The SPOC may be busy when the client calls, or having lunch, or perhaps on vacation, while other SPOCs are idle.

If the system isn’t adequate, on the other hand, an SPOC is not going to be able to answer the borrower’s questions without making the rounds of those who have been working on that borrower’s case, which will take time while other calls stack up. The SPOC cannot remedy system deficiencies.

The best system is an Internet-based portal available to borrowers as well as authorized employees of the servicer. The portal is the SPOC in the sense that borrowers can access it at any time to see the exact status of their application.

But it is also a multiple point of contact in the sense that borrowers can communicate with any of the employees involved in their case by sending and receiving messages through the portal.

Two portals now exist, one from Default Mitigation Management (DMM), a private firm that recently opened its portal to borrowers. The second is the Hope LoanPort, which is a nonprofit associated with Hope Now, the nonprofit consortium of servicers, loan counseling agencies and others.

The Hope LoanPort is more widely used by servicers than DMM, but it is not open to borrowers. I have no financial interest in either.

The DMM portal works in the following way: The borrower opens an account with DMM, selects the servicer from a list on the portal, and receives the complete set of documents required by that servicer. The borrower fills out the documents and sends them to the portal, which delivers the files to the servicer.

The borrower receives a dated acknowledgment of submission through the portal. If the servicer finds a deficiency in or omission from the submission, a message to that effect is sent back to the borrower through the portal. Corrections by the borrower are returned through the portal.

At any time, the borrower can access the portal for an update on what has been completed and what remains to be done. The servicer employees working a particular file are assigned to the borrower on the portal. This means that a borrower who has a question or issue is automatically directed to the employee involved in her issue.

All such communications are time-stamped and remain in the portal as a transparent record of borrower/servicer exchanges. As an important side benefit, the portal provides all the means for establishing the accountability of servicers for results.

The government’s decision to require a human SPOC rather than a systems SPOC is difficult to understand. A systems SPOC would solve both the communications problem and the accountability problem. The human SPOC is costing an enormous amount to provide little more than PR window-dressing for regulators.

By Jack Guttentag, Monday, December 5, 2011.

Inman News™

The writer is professor of finance emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Comments and questions can be left at www.mtgprofessor.com.

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