About Government Refinance and Home Purchase Programs

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

There was a pretty good article over in the Wall Street Journal recently that looks at the issue of banks only participating in the new FHA backed short refi program voluntarily. We have already speculated on how this might play out. Here are some useful quotes from the recent WSJ article:

For struggling U.S. homeowners, the success or failure of the program — which would let roughly 400,000 owners refinance into affordable, government-backed loans — depends largely on bankers’ willingness to take a partial loss on the loans and to reduce the amount of money borrowers owe.

Bankers say they will do it, but it isn’t clear how many loans they might be willing to restructure.

Experts say the program’s eventual participation could rise dramatically if home prices continue to drop — which could put more pressure on lenders to offer borrowers more assistance. Lawmakers are already pressing regulators and lenders to prepare now so the program can begin without delay when it goes into effect Oct. 1.

Taking a loss on a loan by writing down the principal owed is one of the least desirable options for loan servicers. They typically prefer to either lower the interest rate or extend the life of the loan — from 30 years, for example, to 40 years.

“The real problem is going to be, just like with every program out there, are the banks going to take this seriously?” said Rebecca Case-Grammatico, a staff attorney at the Empire Justice Center in Rochester, N.Y., who advises clients facing foreclosure. “And if they don’t, we’re in the same position we’ve been in all along.”

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