Foreclosure Kabuki

| Thu Jul. 30, 2009 12:56 AM EDT

Why are so few mortgage companies willing to modify loans for delinquent borrowers even though the federal government has allocated $75 billion to keep them from taking a big hit when they refinance the loans?  What's the holdup?  Peter Goodman reports:

“It frustrates me when I see the government looking to the servicer for the solution, because it will never ever happen,” said Margery Golant, a Florida lawyer who defends homeowners against foreclosure and who worked in the law department of a major mortgage company, Ocwen Financial. “I don’t think they’re motivated to do modifications at all. They keep hitting the loan all the way through for junk fees. It’s a license to do whatever they want.”

....“If they do a loan modification, they get a few shekels from the government,” said David Dickey, who led a mortgage sales team at Countrywide and Bank of America [....] By contrast, he said, the road to foreclosure is lined with fees, especially if it is prolonged. “There’s all sorts of things behind the scenes,” he said.

....As a home slides toward foreclosure, mortgage companies pay for many services required to take control of the property and resell it. They typically funnel orders for title searches, insurance policies, appraisals and legal filings to companies they own or share revenue with.

An old gag asks, What do you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?  Answer: A good start.  These days, I don't think "lawyer" is the right profession for that joke.

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