Thousands of troubled home borrowers with loans from IndyMac Federal Bank will be able to switch to fixed-rate mortgages under a new plan from federal regulators, who seized the bank last month after it became the largest regulated thrift to fail.
WASHINGTON — Thousands of troubled home borrowers with loans from IndyMac Federal Bank will be able to switch to fixed-rate mortgages under a new plan from federal regulators, who seized the bank last month after it became the largest regulated thrift to fail.
Most IndyMac borrowers who are seriously delinquent or in default on their mortgages and can document their situation will be able to switch into loans capped at an interest rate around 6.5 percent, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Wednesday.
The average U.S. rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages was at 6.52 percent last week.
The FDIC has been operating the Pasadena, Calif.-based bank, which was called IndyMac Bank, under a conservatorship since July 11.
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More than 60,000 borrowers are 60 or more days behind on their payments, according to the FDIC.
Thousands of delinquent borrowers will receive proposed offers for modifications in the coming weeks. The first batch of about 4,000 — with an average $359,844 balance owed — will be mailed by week’s end.
The FDIC temporarily froze all mortgage foreclosures for IndyMac borrowers when it took over the bank. It said Wednesday there will be no fees for the loan modifications and all unpaid late charges will be waived.
FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair has been urging mortgage lenders and firms that service mortgages to develop comprehensive plans for modifying unaffordable loans, rather than doing so on a loan-by-loan basis.
Avoiding the lengthy and costly process of foreclosure can help neighborhoods and makes good business sense, Bair said.
Consumer housing advocates applauded the move.
“This will give the housing industry a real-life demonstration of the potential of a financial institution” to make significant loan modifications that can help struggling homeowners, said Jim Carr, chief operating officer of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
IndyMac, with about $32 billion in assets and $19 billion in deposits at the time it failed, was the second-largest financial institution to close in U.S. history, after Continental Illinois National Bank in 1984.
The pressures to which IndyMac succumbed — tighter credit, tumbling home prices and rising foreclosures — have been battering many banks of all sizes nationwide.
IndyMac’s failure is expected to cost the federal deposit insurance fund, currently at $53 billion, between $4 billion and $8 billion.