Paper jams make loan modifications impossible

The New York Timesreports that people working on mortgage modifications are entering a dizzying world of missing documents, bureaucratic call centers, overwhelmed and poorly-trained employees, and the ultimate in customer service frustration: rude, nasty and incompetent people.

And therein lies the ultimate problem with this mortgage modification program: If every single person in the United States worked full-time in loan modifications, there still probably wouldn't be enough manpower to handle the volume and complexity of pay-option arms, piggyback mortgages, NINJA loans and stated-income loans.

Does it even make sense to offer government help to people who lied -- that is, committed felony mortgage fraud, a federal crime -- to buy their homes? Here's an idea: Before modifying any stated income loans, make sure that the numbers the borrowers claimed to be making represented their actual earnings.

Back in March, I wrote that "Given that bureaucracy and bungling have so far made federal efforts to modify loan ineffective, is there really much hope for the much, much broader initiatives that are now being plotted? Are there enough accountants and ethical mortgage brokers in this galaxy to oversee a restructuring of a system where 7.88% of mortgage holders are beyond on their payments?"

The Obama Administration will probably have to come up with another plan because so far, the number of mortgage modifications has fallen far, far short of the original estimates.
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