Freddie Mac is bringing in reinforcements to speed up the loan modification process.

The McLean, Va., government-sponsored enterprise said Friday that it had hired Home Retention Services Inc. of Houston, a unit of Stewart Information Services Corp., to assess borrowers' eligibility for a modification, gather documentation of their incomes and send completed packages to servicers for final approval.

Home Retention will also advise borrowers of other Freddie options if they do not qualify for a loan mod under the Obama administration's Making Home Affordable program.

Putting more staff and resources at the front end of the loan mod process "can ease some of the pressures on our servicers' staff," Ingrid Beckles, Freddie's senior vice president of default management, said in a press release.

Servicers participating in the Obama program also are identifying potentially eligible borrowers whose loans are owned or guaranteed by Freddie and mailing them instructions to contact Home Retention.

In February, Freddie hired Ocwen Financial Corp. of West Palm Beach, Fla., to work through 5,000 seriously delinquent mortgages. Freddie also has contracted with Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Atlanta and San Francisco to contact low-income borrowers at risk of default.

"The goal here is to try to get as many borrowers as possible on the path to a workout," said Freddie spokesman Brad German.

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