The Hope Now Alliance has launched a new website in a further attempt to work through some of the wrinkles that have plagued both the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) and other loan modification programs.
The site, nicknamed HOPE LoanPort is located at http://www.hopeloanportal.org/, and is designed to assist homeowners to assess their eligibility for a loan modification, apply for assistance, and submit the documents required for modification assistance. Loan counselors will be able to collect documents from borrowers, upload the completed application package, submit it directly to servicers, and track the status of each borrower's application, all on-line.
HUD believes the new site has the potential to significantly improve the execution of modifications by providing the following benefits:
- Eliminate lost documents. It is designed to address addresses servicer challenges in receiving applications, and counselor challenges in sending applications and documentation.
- Standardization - The site will collect complete HAMP applications that include all required data elements and documentation;
- Communication - Servicers can update the status of in-process modifications;
- Efficiency - Improves servicer efficiency in completing modifications;
- Transparency - Increases accountability and transparency for all stakeholders;
HAMP has come under widespread criticism over the last six months because of its low conversion rate. While nearly 1.2 million homeowners have entered into the three month trial period required to test the feasibility of their modifications, only 230,000 had been converted to permanent status by the end of March. The servicers who operate the program have blamed borrowers for not providing required documents while borrowers and counselors have complained that servicers are mismanaging the data and losing documents. The new portal is one of several changes announced over the past months to improve the conversion rate.
While the new website is designed primarily as a management tool for mortgage counselors, there are several features for homeowners. An interactive self-assessment tool allows a homeowner to answer a set of six questions about income and mortgage payments and immediately scores their answers. While it is up to servicers to make a final determination of eligibility, homeowners can then fill out a preliminary application for help on line. The site also offers links to a long list of HUD approved mortgage counselors and features a Federal Trade Commission produced video warning visitors of the characteristics and prevalence of foreclosure scams.
HOPE LoanPort is not a HUD initiative, rather it was developed by six servicer member of the industry-led non-profit, HOPE NOW, along with six non-profit housing counseling agencies. While the web portal is used for uploading of HAMP loan modification applications, it is also used for other proprietary loan mod products offered by the 10 participating mortgage servicers. HOPE LoanPort is a non-profit organization and not affiliated with or managed by the government.