Release of the plan was coming after news earlier Thursday that home foreclosures surged to an all-time high in the July-September period. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that the percentage of all mortgages that started the foreclosure process in the third quarter jumped to a record 0.78 percent, surpassing the previous record of 0.65 percent of all mortgages in the second quarter.
The administration's effort is aimed at stemming a further tidal wave of foreclosures in coming years as 2 million subprime mortgages — loans provided to borrowers with spotty credit histories — reset from their introductory rates of around 7 percent to 8 percent to levels as high as 11 percent, adding hundreds of dollars to the typical monthly payment.
The mortgage companies will offer to freeze the loans at the lower introductory rates as long as the borrowers did not miss any payments at the lower rate.
The program is the biggest effort yet to deal with the surge in mortgage defaults, which have piled up billions of dollars in losses for big banks, hedge funds and other investors while roiling financial markets worldwide. The defaults are the latest economic blow from the worst housing slump in more than two decades. Some economists think the housing bust may become severe enough to push the country into recession.