So the big banks have been getting a bad rep for being uncooperative in giving mortgage loan modifications to underwater borrowers. But at least my experience is that they're giving them too easily. I just found out that Chase put our mortgage under their loan modification program last November. Great, except I didn't ask for the modification. And my total mortgage balance is $17,000. As everybody knows, even a dog house in the Los Angeles is worth at least $17,000, so there was no chance there was an underwater loan.
Indeed, the manner in which I found out about the modification is bizarre. I had recently received a refund check from the Los Angeles County Tax Assessor in the amount of one property tax installment payment. I found this puzzling and initially attributed it to more government inefficiency, theorizing that they mistook the late December payment of the second installment due on April 10 for a duplicate payment of the first (December installment). Before I had a chance to call them up, my annual mortgage statement came in, and it showed a disbursement for property taxes, even though I don't have an impound account with the lender. A call to Chase then revealed that they paid the property taxes because my loan was part of the loan modification program.
Since my loan apparently qualified for an unsolicited modification by the lender, I would imagine that under these new standards, everybody now qualifies.