The top four holders of second mortgages are now on board, but a government program to modify such loans in tandem with first liens will not be up and running for five months.

A big part of the hold-up is the old problem of one hand not knowing what the other is doing. Home equity loans typically are not originated or tracked through the same platforms that banks use for servicing a first mortgage. So a bank that holds the first lien may not even know internally that it also holds a second lien.

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