Why HAMP and HARP Have Run Their Course

Investor Update
May 9, 2016

The Obama administration’s Making Home Affordable program has been extended and expanded so many times that it’s gotten hard to imagine life without it. But the days may be numbered for MHA and its two primary initiatives, the Home Affordable Modification Program and Home Affordable Refinance Program.

As the housing market’s recovery continues to solidify, the number of underwater borrowers that MHA was designed to help has receded, not to mention the fact that a new administration will occupy the White House following the upcoming elections.

In one sense, the scheduled Dec. 31 end date of Making Home Affordable is a nonevent because nationally, the volume of loans flowing through HAMP and HARP has slowed considerably. But the programs are still a force to be reckoned with. The refinance program’s volume has been significant in the past and remains so in certain regions. And there’s no denying that the modification program, while small in size now, has had a huge influence over the way loss mitigation is handled in the market.

“MHA has left a lasting impact on the industry,” said Mark McArdle, deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Stability. “Previously, modifications were typically about kicking the can down the road and ultimately did not reduce payments. HAMP has introduced a standardized loss mitigation waterfall as a common expectation. The question is, when we go away, how much of that will remain?”

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is weighing options for a refinance program to succeed HARP, but any plan would be limited to loans purchased by its primary charges, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And it’s so far been silent on any plans for a new modification program to take HAMP’s place.

But HAMP’s influence will continue long after servicers stop taking requests for new workouts. The runoff of previously modified loans will last for years, while other forms of loss mitigation will continue to incorporate procedures that were rare, or even nonexistent, prior to its existence — not to mention how history will view Making Home Affordable’s legacy in the broader context of the Great Recession.

“What the expiration of this means will be a matter of how you view economics,” said Les Parker, an industry veteran and contributing writer to The Mortgage Professional’s Handbook, a guidebook on the inner-workings and history of the mortgage industry published earlier this year. “It is government intervention, and the questions people will look at is, was that government intervention good or bad?”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the mortgage industry might look like once HAMP and HARP have come to an end.

A Political Question

Both Republican and Democratic presidents have shown a willingness to let government intervene in the mortgage markets in the past. It’s unclear where the current slate of presidential candidates stand on the issue, but generally, Parker said, “I think the odds are Making Home Affordable is not going to be extended if a Republican is coming in.”

Some Republicans and investors, as well as the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program that funds MHA, have been critical of HAMP’s redefault rate or the program’s inability to reach more borrowers. Critics also have showed concern about the potential moral hazard it presents in lowering delinquent borrowers payments in standardized ways that don’t account more granularly for individuals’ merits, while leaving performing borrowers’ unchanged, Parker noted.

Certain Democrats as well as the Treasury, the FHFA and other proponents have meanwhile defended the program. They note that the majority of HAMP loans remain current after modification, that the program was structured to minimize moral hazard and that performance improved over time, with the latest iterations proving generally more effective than proprietary modifications.

That debate will resurface in any contemplation of an extension or successor program to HAMP. But because the next president will take office shortly after MHA’s scheduled expiration, it’s unlikely there will be any change from the current plan to let it sunset, unless it is a simple extension. However, an extension remains a long shot because of the widespread perception that the program was created to respond to a crisis that no longer exists.

“I think it will sunset because how do you justify that there is still a problem?” Parker said.

Ultimately, HAMP could become the model for what some are calling a “mod on a shelf,” which could be revived in the event of a future housing crisis, said Eric Selk, the executive director of Hope Now.

“HAMP was developed to address a crisis and we’re really not in a crisis,” he said.

While the end of Making Home Affordable may serve as fodder for political rhetoric in debates about housing policy, market conditions are generally far better than they were during the crisis, said David Lykken, president and founder of Transformational Mortgage Solutions, a consulting firm in Austin, Texas.

“It’s important to realize as we go into this election cycle that there could be a lot of talk about how the end of Making Home Affordable could destroy homeownership to suggest that we need the programs,” he said.

But delinquencies have returned to normalized levels, noted Lynn Fisher, a vice president of research and economics at the Mortgage Bankers Association. And even though negative equity levels aren’t back to normal, they are far closer to it.

The percentage of underwater homes among people with a mortgage is less than 10%, as opposed to a rate more than twice that during the crisis, according to CoreLogic chief economist Frank Nothaft.

“You would normally expect to see negative equity closer to 2% to 3%. We’re at most two to three years from normality,” Nothaft said.

Overall, the number of underwater homeowners with a GSE loan has dropped by more than 80% since its peak at the end of 2011, and the vast majority of the remaining underwater borrowers are current on their mortgages, according to FHFA Director Mel Watt. About 9% are still seriously delinquent.

While borrower distress associated with crisis-era underwater homes is less of a problem on average, it remains a challenge in certain concentrated regions. So the expiration of a modification program specifically designed to help these borrowers will put some stress on these regions and entities that hold concentrations of loans there.

States with longer foreclosure timelines such as New York, New Jersey and Florida are more likely to feel some impact from HAMP’s expiration, said Michael Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist.

And some regions that still lag in home price recovery will be affected more than others when MHA’s refinance program ends. These include Las Vegas, the Inland Empire in California, and parts of Florida, Fratantoni added.

HARP Will Be Replaced

While it was less groundbreaking than HAMP and received the benefit of a number of refinements over time, the Home Affordable Refinance Program didn’t have as tough of a row to hoe.

“HARP was an amazingly successful program,” said Fratantoni. “I think HAMP had some more hurdles to get over.”

And unlike HAMP, there are immediate plans for a GSE successor to HARP.

“As HARP winds down, we are also working to make sure that borrowers with high loan-to-value ratio loans have a refinance option in the future,” Watt said in in a policy speech in March, noting that it “will be important in the event there are regional or localized economic disruptions that lead to negative equity.” However, borrowers who previously participated in HARP would not be eligible to refinance under the new program.

The GSEs have helped more than 3.3 million homeowners refinance their mortgages through HARP, saving them on average $2,200 a year in reduced mortgage payments.

HARP loans accounted for as much as 40% of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac refinance volume at the program’s height in May 2012, according to Black Knight Financial Services estimates. However, that was an unusual month, and the percentage has fallen drastically over time. While it continues to aggressively target remaining eligible borrowers, the FHFA found HARP accounted for only about 5% of GSE refinances during January 2016 and quarterly averages were no higher than around 27% at the market’s peak.

So what kind of program could succeed HARP at Fannie and Freddie?

One possibility is a Fannie Mae loan modeled off of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ streamline refinance program, said Brent Nyitray, director of capital markets at iServe Residential Lending in Stamford, Conn.

“That’s one thing the government could easily do if they wanted to permanently extend HARP,” he said.

Among other things, the Department of Veterans Affairs does not require an appraisal on its streamline refinances, which would help underwater borrowers overcome any loan-to-value eligibility restrictions.

“The question will be will lenders want to do that? Because there are fears of having the loan put back to you by Fannie Mae,” Nyitray said.

Source: National Mortgage News

Additional Resource:
Nationonal Mortgage News (Life After HAMP: Many Requirements, Few Standards)



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.