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Who's lingered longest in loan-mod limbo?

February 12, 2010 |  6:30 am

In November I began an article for The Times with a look at Rick Mullen of Valencia, whose home mortgage was restructured by JPMorgan Chase & Co. after the recession cut into Mullen's small business.

Mullen was grateful that his payment dropped 25% but perplexed that his "trial" modification had never become permanent, despite his having paid the lowered amount for 13 months. The story noted that hundreds of thousands of borrowers had likewise received trial mods that had never been made permanent; the banks said a major problem was people failing to send back the paperwork documenting their incomes.

In the ensuing months, I've heard frequently from people in similar straits -- borrowers who say they have been left hanging by lenders who lose paperwork, make new demands for documents, change programs -- but somehow never get around to finalizing the restructuring of loans. The Obama administration recently changed the rules of its loan mod program to try to encourage permanent modifications, but we'll see how things work out.

The issue has caught the eye of ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news outfit that I wrote about in 2007, which has frequently examined the troubles in the government's loan modification program.

Now, New York-based ProPublica has posed an interesting question: Whose trial mortgage has languished the longest without becoming permanent? You can read more and find out how to nominate candidates at this link.

Me, I'll be watching to see who can top Mullen's 13-month trial. (Chase made his modification permanent shortly after the story appeared, by the way.)

-- E. Scott Reckard