About Government Refinance and Home Purchase Programs

Information and Updates on Government Mortgage Programs

Archive for February, 2009...

Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

A: No

Sure, if you can’t qualify for a refinance you could pay one of these many “loan modification” companies that are sprouting up like weeds to help you out. But we recommend against it. Those firms just charge you thousands of dollars to do something you can do yourself. Anyone can contact their own bank and seek a loan modification after all. You don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to do that.

These firms are largely preying on the fear and ignorance of people in the current economic downturn. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t contact your own lenders yourself.

Comments Off on Q: Should I pay someone to help me modify my loan? Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Filed under HARP Program Loans or The Obama Refinance Program

Speculation is flying freely about the pending eligibility details of the Obama homeowner rescue plan. Here is an article that suggests the plan and FHA may have stipulations to help people who have been laid off.

On Tuesday, a government housing official told a U.S. House of Representatives panel that the Obama administration is currently working on a way to offer more home loan relief to the unemployed, Dow Jones Newswires reports.

These plans may include permission for the Federal Housing Administration to help households in which a breadwinner has been laid off due to the recession, Vance T. Morris, Housing and Urban Development director for single family asset management, told the panel.

Comments (4) Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News, HARP Program Loans or The Obama Refinance Program

We get this from a recent Washington Post article:

A day after President Obama unveiled his $75 billion foreclosure prevention program, administration officials yesterday said they were still determining which homeowners should qualify.

The administration is developing a standard for lenders to use in evaluating applicants that seeks to exclude homeowners who are not in real need or are too far behind in their payments to be saved. Officials have set some conditions for eligibility, including requiring that borrowers’ mortgage payments consume more than 38 percent of their income and that the property be a primary residence.

Government officials are working to finalize details before a self-imposed March 4 deadline when the program will go into effect and lenders are likely to be flooded with calls.

Comments Off on Obama team still working out eligibility details for new mortgage relief plan Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News, HARP Program Loans or The Obama Refinance Program

Part 1 of the new Obama housing plan is for borrowers who are having difficulty refinancing but not is serious trouble yet. Part 2 is the loan modification segment of the plan for folks who can’t qualify for part 1 because of bad credit, being behind on the mortgage payments, or being too far upside down on the property to qualify for part 1. We get these talking points from this document about part 2 to the new Obama plan:

Borrowers Who Are at Risk of Foreclosure Are Asking:

1. What help is available for borrowers who are at risk of foreclosure either because they are behind on their mortgage or are struggling to make the payments?

The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan offers help to borrowers who are already behind on their mortgage payments or who are struggling to keep their loans current. By providing mortgage lenders with financial incentives to modify existing first mortgages, the Treasury hopes to help as many as 3 to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure regardless of who owns or services the mortgage.

2. Do I need to be behind on my mortgage payments to be eligible for a modification?

No. Borrowers who are struggling to stay current on their mortgage payments may be eligible if their income is not sufficient to continue to make their mortgage payments and they are at risk of imminent default. This may be due to several factors, such as a loss of income, a significant increase in expenses, or an interest rate that will reset to an unaffordable level.

3. How do I know if I qualify for a payment reduction under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

In general, you may qualify for a mortgage modification if (a) you occupy your house as your primary residence; (b) your monthly mortgage payment is greater than 31% of your monthly gross income; and (c) your loan is not large enough to exceed current Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limits. Final eligibility will be determined by your mortgage lender based on your financial situation and detailed guidelines that will be available on March 4, 2009.

4. I do not live in the house that secures the mortgage I’d like to modify. Is this mortgage eligible for the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

No. For example, if you own a house that you use as a vacation home or that you rent out to tenants, the mortgage on that house is not eligible. If you used to live in the home but you moved out, the mortgage is not eligible. Only the mortgage on your primary residence is eligible. The mortgage lender will check to see if the dwelling is your primary residence.

5. I have a mortgage on a duplex. I live in one unit and rent the other. Will I still be eligible?

Yes. Mortgages on 2, 3 and 4 unit properties are eligible as long as you live in one unit as your primary residence.

6. I have two mortgages. Will the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan reduce the payments on both?

Only the first mortgage is eligible for a modification.

7. I owe more than my house is worth. Will the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan reduce what I owe?

The primary objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to help borrowers avoid foreclosure by modifying troubled loans to achieve a payment the borrower can afford. Lenders are likely to lower payments mainly by reducing loan interest rates. However, the program offers incentives for principal reductions and at your lender’s discretion modifications may include upfront reductions of loan principal.

8. I heard the government was providing a financial incentive to borrowers. Is that true?

Yes. To encourage borrowers who work hard to retain homeownership, the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan provides incentive payments as a borrower makes timely payments on the modified loan. The incentive will accrue on a monthly basis and will be applied directly to reduce your mortgage debt. Borrowers who pay on time for five years can have up to $5,000 applied to reduce their debt by the end of that period.

9. How much will a modification cost me?

There is no cost to borrowers for a modification under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. If you wish to get assistance from a HUD-approved housing counseling agency or are referred to a counselor as a condition of the modification, you will not be charged a fee. Borrowers should beware of any organization that attempts to charge a fee for housing counseling or modification of a delinquent loan, especially if they require a fee in advance.

10. Is my lender required to modify my loan?

No. Mortgage lenders participate in the program on a voluntary basis and loans are evaluated for modification on a case-by-case basis. But the government is offering substantial incentives and it is expected that most major lenders will participate.

11. I’m already working with my lender / housing counselor on a loan workout. Can I still be considered for the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

Ask your lender or counselor to be considered under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan.

12. How do I apply for a modification under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

You may not need to do anything at this time. Most mortgage lenders will evaluate loans in their portfolio to identify borrowers who may meet the eligibility criteria. After March 4 they will send letters to potentially eligible homeowners, a process that may take several weeks. If you think you qualify for a modification and do not receive a letter within several weeks, contact your mortgage servicer or a HUD-approved housing counselor. Please be aware that servicers and counseling agencies are expected to receive an extraordinary number of calls about this program.

13. What should I do in the meantime?

You should gather the information that you will need to provide to your lender on or after March 4, when the modification program becomes available. This includes

· information about the monthly gross income of your household including recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources

· your most recent income tax return

· information about any second mortgage on the house

· payments on each of your credit cards if you are carrying balances from month to month, and

· payments on other loans such as student loans and car loans.

14. My loan is scheduled for foreclosure soon. What should I do?

Contact your mortgage servicer or credit counselor. Many mortgage lenders have expressed their intention to postpone foreclosure sales on all mortgages that may qualify for the modification in order to allow sufficient time to evaluate the borrower’s eligibility. We support this effort.

Comments (2) Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News, HARP Program Loans or The Obama Refinance Program

Read the PDF summary of the new Obama Housing plan here. It is found at the HUD site here.

According to the summary the #1 goal of the new program is to help with:

1. Refinancing for Up to 4 to 5 Million Responsible Homeowners to Make Their Mortgages More Affordable

Enabling Up to 4 to 5 Million Responsible Homeowners to Refinance: Mortgage rates are currently at historically low levels, providing homeowners with the opportunity to reduce their monthly payments by refinancing. But under current rules, most families who owe more than 80 percent of the value of their homes have a difficult time refinancing. Yet millions of responsible homeowners who put money down and made their mortgage payments on time have — through no fault of their own — seen the value of their homes drop low enough to make them unable to access these lower rates. As a result, the Obama Administration is announcing a new program that will help as many as 4 to 5 million responsible homeowners who took out conforming loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to refinance through those two institutions.

It sounds like this portion of the plan is similar to the FHA streamline program where you can basically streamline your conforming loan to a better rate at a reduced cost. Part 1 of the plan is for people who have a little bit of equity in their homes but not enough to qualify for a conventional loan refinance. The loans in part 1 can refinance up to 105% of the current value of your home. We get this from another worksheet:

3.How do I know if I am eligible?

Complete eligibility details will be announced on March 4th when the program starts. The criteria for eligibility will include having sufficient income to make the new payment and an acceptable mortgage payment history. The program is limited to loans held or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

4.I have both a first and a second mortgage. Do I still qualify to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

As long as the amount due on the first mortgage is less than 105% of the value of the property, borrowers with more than one mortgage may be eligible to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. Your eligibility will depend, in part, on agreement by the lender that has your second mortgage to remain in a second position, and on your ability to meet the new payment terms on the first mortgage.

5. Will refinancing lower my payments?

The objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to provide creditworthy borrowers who have shown a commitment to paying their mortgage with affordable payments that are sustainable for the life of the loan. Borrowers whose mortgage interest rates are much higher than the current market rate should see an immediate reduction in their payments. Borrowers who are paying interest only, or who have a low introductory rate that will increase in the future, may not see their current payment go down if they refinance to a fixed rate. These borrowers, however, could save a great deal over the life of the loan. When you submit a loan application, you will receive* a “Good Faith Estimate” that includes your new interest rate, mortgage payment and the amount that you will pay over the life of the loan. Compare this to your current loan terms. If it is not an improvement, a refinancing may not be right for you.

*Note: If you think you are a candidate for this part of the plan and would like a Good Faith Estimate contact us in the sidebar today.

For those of you who are in deeper trouble and are significantly upside down on your home value the loan modification programs with current lenders look like they will be beefed up a lot as well. See our post on part 2 of the plan for that scenario.

Comments (1) Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

President Obama announced his housing rescue plan today in Mesa Arizona. Here is an AP article on the subject. There were no major surprises in the general plan today — the plan will focus on loan modifications for struggling homeowners, including those who are upside down on their mortgages. The details are reported to follow and the plan should go into affect by March 4. We’ll post more on how to take advantage of the new programs as more details arise.

Comments Off on Obama unveils foreclosure prevention plan Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

In an attempt to stave off a financial crisis the Bush administration raised the FHA loan limits in 2008. While the higher loan limits helped, they obviously did not stave off a massive housing crisis. The problem is that the higher loan limits expired on Dec. 31 2008. One of the things the new Obama economic stimulus bill will do is reinstate the 2008 higher loan limits. Here is a quote from an article over at MSNBC.com:

The bill also reinstates the 2008 higher loan limits for FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “These higher loan limits are important to make mortgages affordable regardless of where you live. This will also help reduce inventory and improve liquidity in the overall mortgage market,” McMillan said.

This is good news for many people all over the country. FHA will be able to help significantly more folks with these higher limits.

Comments Off on Stimulus bill reinstates 2008 FHA loan limit Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Filed under Updates on FHA short refi program - HOPE loan qualifications

As we have documented here in the past, the recently launched H4H program was a colossal failure. There was an interesting article over at The Washington Independent that delved into why it was such a failure. There are three reasons listed:

1. The costs were too high to consumers
2. The program was voluntary so banks weren’t anxious to write off huge amounts of money when they could just wait and see if a better deal came along
3. The servicers of defaulting loans (third party companies hired to collect on mortgages after the mortgages are sold to investors as part of mortgage backed securities) were worried that if they went for and H4H deal instead of foreclosing they might get sued by the investors they work for so the went with the more familiar and lawsuit-immune route of foreclosures

We know from experience that #1 was not at all a reason for the failure of the program and anyone who says otherwise is out to lunch. People who are upside down and their homes and on the verge of foreclosure would have gladly accepted an H4H loan if one were available.

Reason #2 was and obvious problem because banks are always going to try to act in their own self interest. But reason #3 is a really interesting insight. It points out a structure and institutional problem that must be dealt with if the H4H program is to ever take off.

The other interesting idea is to relieve the already overworked and understaffed FHA department of the program. But I suspect they will need to fix problems 1-3 before that matters at all.

Comments (1) Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Friday, February 13th, 2009

Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

News broke today that the talk of 4% interest rates for all have been shelved by the Obama administration and the focus of the pending foreclosure prevention plan will likely be a standardized loan modification program that applies to all struggling homeowners whether they are behind on payments or not. Most loan modifications plans until now only kicked in when homeowners fell months behind on their mortgage payments. Here are some excerpts from a recent Reuters story on the subject:

The Obama administration is hammering out a program to subsidize mortgage payments for troubled homeowners who have gone through a standardized re-appraisal and affordability test, sources familiar with the plan said on Thursday.

The program would be a major break from existing aid programs, which are triggered once homeowners fall into arrears.

Under the plan being mulled, homeowners would have to make a case of hardship to qualify for new loan terms.

Housing policymakers weighed but have for now shelved one plan that would have seen the government stand behind low-cost mortgages of between 4 and 4.5 percent, sources said.

Lockhart said that policymakers are eager to prevent a large drop in home values from their current, deflated levels.

Comments Off on Loan modification program emerging as most likely centerpiece to Obama husing help plan Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

The Obama administration is still cooking up its mortgage relief plan and a whole lot of people are on pins and needles waiting to see what is unveiled in the next week or two. Here are some excerpts from a recent CNNmoney.com recent article on the subject:

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Thursday plans to meet with President Barack Obama’s economic team and other officials on efforts to stem foreclosures and thaw credit markets.

A notice the Treasury Department released Thursday morning said Geithner Thursday morning will attend a White House meeting with the economic team to discuss efforts to keep Americans in their homes.

The meeting comes as a growing number of federal officials are urging banks to hold off on foreclosures until the new administration announces its multi- billion-dollar plan to ease the pain in the housing markets. On Wednesday, bank executives with Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC) suggested they would be willing to halt foreclosures over the next few weeks as the Obama administration hashes out a plan. …

Additionally, Geithner will attend a meeting with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and National Economic Council Director Larry Summers to discuss the new financial rescue plan Geithner unveiled earlier this week. The plan could send $ 2 trillion into the U.S. financial system and includes efforts to remove soured mortgage-related assets from banks’ balance sheets and new plans to “stress test” banks aiming to receive new capital infusions from the government.

See here for more on the banking rescue plan unveiled on Tuesday.

Comments Off on The buzz surrounding Obama’s mortgage relief plans growing Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

According to the folks over at HousingWire home prices are predicted to continue to drop over the next 12 twelve months.

If you still have equity in your home and have an interest rate at 6.5% or higher contact us now if you would like to improve your rate before you are upside down on your mortgage like millions of other Americans already have found themselves.

Comments Off on Home prices are expected to continue to decline into 2010 Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

There has been talk in the news recently about 4% interest rates on mortgages. The problem is that so far none of the plans that would lead to such rates have gained much traction in Washington. The Republicans were pushing to have the economic stimulus plan reduce interest rates for all to spur refinances and home purchases. The problem with that is that the Republicans don’t have much juice in Washington these days and the plans supported by the Democrats which is focused on other strategies.

Now it is possible that rates could be artificially compressed further in coming months, but there is no telling. The new Governor of the Fed, Elizabeth Duke, gave a speech recently and said that compressing rates by buying up mortgage backed securities is one of the ideas the Fed is still kicking around. Here are some excerpts from a recent post over at the WSJ blog:

While Congress and the Treasury debate numerous options, Ms. Duke largely steers clear of specific proposals.

Ms. Duke says the government also might consider reducing the interest rate for borrowers, through a subsidy or Treasury purchases of illiquid Ginnie Mae securities to which the borrowers’ interest rate is tied. The government also could purchase delinquent or at-risk mortgages in bulk and refinance them into the existing programs, she says.

The problem is that while we all wait to figure out what the Fed might do, interest rates are higher than they should be and banks are almost discouraging people to get loans now one fears that rates will drop and people will just refinance again in a couple of months.

We think the Fed needs to tweet or get off these things. Teasing the market with “mights” is making things worse, not better.

Comments Off on What about the 4% rates we have been hearing about? Posted by G.R.A. Admin on Thursday, February 12th, 2009