Mortgage Modifications: Why a Third Are Canceled

The Treasury building. One-third of mortgage modifications are being cancelled.
The Treasury building. One-third of mortgage modifications are being cancelled.

The federal government says foreclosure prevention has helped millions of people. But sometimes it seems hard to find a pundit or news story that mentions foreclosure prevention program without using the word "failed," often in the headline.

Whom should you believe?

Government officials say 2.8 million homeowners at risk of foreclosure have had their home mortgages modified, lowering monthly payment by an average of about $500 since April 2009. But critics point out that not all of those modifications have lasted.

For example, of the 1.2 million trial modification started so far through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), about a third, or 429,696, have been canceled, according to the latest reports. Many skeptics worry that foreclosure prevention has merely delayed foreclosure for millions of homeowners who are still likely to eventually lose their homes.