(Recasts with Treasury Department comments, previous NEW
WASHINGTON Nov 28 The U.S. Treasury Department
wants lenders and companies that process monthly mortgage
payments to do more to rework troubled home mortgage loans and
will announce new measures on Monday aimed at achieving that
goal, a department spokeswoman said on Saturday.
The New York Times in its Sunday edition quoted Michael
Barr, the Treasury Department's assistant secretary for
financial institutions, as expressing dissatisfaction with
lenders over the slow pace at which they are amending loan
agreements to help borrowers make their monthly payments.
"The banks are not doing a good enough job," the Times
quoted Barr saying in a Friday interview. "Some of the firms
ought to be embarrassed, and they will be."
Treasury spokeswoman Meg Reilly said on Saturday the
department was "taking additional steps to enhance (mortgage)
servicer transparency and accountability as part of a broader
focus on maximizing conversion rates to permanent
That could include new resources for borrowers, Reilly said
without offering details. The department will announce new
measures on Monday, Reilly added.
The Treasury Department has said lenders have boosted
efforts to modify mortgage payments -- essentially by reducing
monthly payments so that chances of foreclosure decrease. But
there are widespread reports that borrowers continue to have
problems negotiating with banks and mortgage brokers to get
their payments lowered.
Most loans modified by banks under a program that Treasury
monitors remain in a trial stage, and only a small percentage
have become permanent.
Barr was quoted by the New York Times as saying that the
Obama administration will try to shame lenders by publicly
naming institutions that fail to move quickly enough to lower
mortgage payments permanently.
"They're not getting a penny from the federal government
until they move forward," Barr told the Times.
White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told the Times the
Obama administration would continue to refine the mortgage
program as needed. "We will not be satisfied until more program
participants are transitioning from trial to permanent
modifications," Psaki was quoted as saying.
(Reporting By Glenn Somerville, editing by Will Dunham)
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