Posted on the Housing Wire by Austin Kilgore:
A new Hope Now Alliance Web site lets Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counseling agencies in certain markets submit Making Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) applications on behalf of certain distressed borrowers.
A number of loan servicers are participating in the pilot program, Hope LoanPort, including American Home Mortgage Servicing, JP Morgan Chase, GMAC Financial Services, SunTrust, PNC Mortgage and Saxon Mortgage.
Servicers in nine markets will also start the program. NeighborWorks America is serving as a counseling intermediary, with affiliated agencies: Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago, NHS of Greater Cleveland, NHS of New York City and Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation in Ventura, Calif. HomeFree USA is also serving as an intermediary with their affiliates located in Kansas City, West Palm Beach, Washington, DC, and Atlanta. The counselors will offer the service at no cost to borrowers and can track the modification effort after the application is submitted.
The Hope Now Alliance is a consortium of housing counselors and loan servicers that works to help distressed borrowers.
Lenders said one of the challenges facing borrowers and servicers in modifying loans is the number of documents required in the application. Hope Now said the counselors will help keep track of the documentation needs to finalize the workout plans.
“This new web portal will help homeowners get a faster answer, via their housing counselor, on whether or not they qualify for a HAMP loan,” said Hope Now executive director Faith Schwartz.
“The ability to help at-risk borrowers navigate more quickly through the HAMP modification process is a win-win for borrowers and the servicers committed to this program. The Hope LoanPort will demonstrate that using available, secured technology and standardized application forms will make a difference in the amount of time it takes for a consumer to get the answers they are seeking and reduce costs to servicers,” Schwartz added.
The Web site is based of technology in the RxOffice software, owned by Columbia, Md.-based IndiSoft. Hope Now expects to launch the program nationwide in 2010.
“Housing counselors have consistently articulated the need for a single point of entry and systematic process for communicating with servicers,” said NeighborWorks America CEO Ken Wade. “We are delighted that Hope Now has developed Hope LoanPort, which will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of counseling and enable more distressed homeowners to receive the assistance they need.”