About Government Refinance and Home Purchase Programs

Information and Updates on Government Mortgage Programs
Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

Andrew Housser over at KOAM TV in Kansas recently filed this useful overview of the recent and pending changes to the FHA program:

In August, President George Bush proposed a series of programs, called “FHA Secure,” to help homeowners who are overburdened by their mortgages. Since then, the program has been modified to include additional provisions.

To address some of those concerns, homeowners may find it helpful to understand some of the key modifications to the President’s plan:

* A rate freeze for borrowers who will not be able to afford their adjustable mortgages. This will help some borrowers on the margin, but will not help the majority of subprime borrowers facing foreclosure. Several requirements will exclude most subprime borrowers. For instance, the borrower cannot be more than 30 days past due on the account at the timethe loan is changed, cannot have been more than 60 days late at any time in the past 12 months, must hold a loan whose interest rate will reset in 2008, and must demonstrate he/she is not capable of paying the new higher payment. Just about 100,000 to 250,000 loans will qualify for this program – fewer than 10 percent of loans whose rates will reset between now and the end of 2009.
* Tax relief for forgiven debt (cancellation of debt income). If the lender forgives a portion of the loan balance as part of the foreclosure process, the forgiven debt has been considered taxable income. For example, if a home is worth $400,000, but the owner has a $500,000 mortgage, and the lender lets the owner walk away without paying the difference, the IRS considers the homeowner as having received $100,000 in value. That $100,000 would be taxable. Now, Bush and Congress have provided tax relief to individuals in this situation. This will simply lessen the pain for some consumers already in the dire financial situation of foreclosure.

Other proposals are in the works in Congress. These include:

* Federal Housing Finance Reform Act. The House would strengthen oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, companies that work closely with government to sell mortgages as securities. The Senate has not acted.
* Expanding American Homeownership/FHA Modernization Acts. The House and Senate have approved different versions of this act that would give the FHA more leeway to help needy homeowners refinance their mortgages.
* National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act. The House has approved legislation to build or preserve 1.5 million low-cost homes and apartments over 10 years. The Senate has not acted, and Bush threatens a veto.
* Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act. The House has moved, and Senate is considering, legislation to regulate the mortgage lending industry.

They say that time heals all wounds, and time may be one of the best cures for the nation’s mortgage woes. In the meantime, homeowners and investors alike are in for a bumpy ride — but now, Congress is coming along, too.

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