Homeowners who dealt with a single person at their mortgage servicer were twice as likely to get a loan modification and half as likely to be denied one, according to a Fannie Mae study.
The study, due out Tuesday, suggests that assigning a distressed borrower's case to a team of employees can be measurably less effective than giving it to one person. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's servicing rules, which took effect in January, give servicers discretion to assign either an individual or a team to a delinquent borrower. The 2012 national mortgage settlement required the large banks to give borrowers a single point of contact.
The study found that assignment to a "true single point of contact" leads to improved outcomes: 54.7% of distressed borrowers who went through the loss mitigation process with the help of single point person received a modification, compared to nearly 10% who were denied a modification and almost 13% who were still waiting to hear back for a solution.
Fannie's Enterprise Marketing Insights team analyzed homeowners' responses to working with a single point of contact through Fannie's Know Your Options Customer CARE program. The program provides free training for servicers and their staff on how to improve borrower-servicer communication and workout efficiency for distressed homeowners.
Researchers aimed to quantify the impact of a single contact on homeowner engagement in the loss mitigation process and to measure servicer efficiency from a homeowner's perspective based on data from eight servicers who agreed to participate in the study.
Another key finding was that borrowers who remembered being assigned to a single contact were happier with the outcome, compared to those who did not, because the contact explained to them why the servicer reached a certain decision.
In addition, because they were more engaged with their servicer and the loss mitigation process, these borrowers were less likely to redefault on their modified loans. Up to 70.5% of them expressed higher satisfaction with their servicer, compared to 22.3% of those who did not receive support from a single point of contact.