For Immediate Release - August 23, 2012

AG Coakley Warns Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac to Comply with Massachusetts Loan Modification Law

AG Also Continues Push For Fannie And Freddie To Implement Principal Forgiveness

BOSTON – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be required to offer commercially reasonable loan modifications under Massachusetts’ recently passed loan modification statute, Attorney General Martha Coakley stated today in a letter sent to the government sponsored mortgage giants. In the letter, Coakley also continued to urge FHFA to reconsider its position and engage in principal reduction for struggling borrowers. 

The letter was sent today to Edward J. DeMarco, Acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The Massachusetts law, signed by Governor Deval Patrick on August 3, requires creditors to take commercially reasonable steps to avoid foreclosure upon certain mortgage loans. Recently, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), that manages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, officially refused to practice principal forgiveness.

“We expect Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, like all creditors, to comply with these statutory obligations as they conduct business in Massachusetts,” AG Coakley said in the letter.  “Specifically, we expect that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will pursue common-sense loan modifications for borrowers when the economic benefits of a modified loan exceed the significant losses anticipated at foreclosure.  These loan modifications are critical to assisting distressed homeowners, avoiding unnecessary foreclosures, and restoring a healthy economy in our Commonwealth.”

The letter both highlights the imperative nature of preventing unnecessary foreclosures and FHFA’s steadfast refusal to use principal reduction as a critical foreclosure avoidance tool.

FHFA recently decided not to implement the Home Affordable Modification Program Principle Reduction Alternative (HAMP PRA) after the agency’s own study concluded that “principal reduction leads to a 20% reduction in re-default probabilities as compared to a modification utilizing forbearance, and principal reduction leads to a 24% reduction in re-default probabilities as compared to a modification that receives payment reduction, but neither forgiveness nor forbearance.”

“This data demonstrates that, in appropriate cases, loan modifications providing principal forgiveness can help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure, save taxpayers’ money, and work to stabilize the housing market – all stated goals of the FHFA,” AG Coakley said.

The conclusions drawn by the study are consistent with another analysis, completed by FHFA, in which the HAMP PRA could help up to 500,000 homeowners and save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac up to $3.6 billion.

In February, AG Coakley urged FHFA to engage in loan modifications guided by a net-present value analysis to help stabilize the housing market and economy. Later in April, AG Coakley and 10 other state attorneys general, sent a letter to Director DeMarco seeking relief for homeowners and argued that the failure to implement principal loan forgiveness harms struggling homeowners and investors.

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