Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009

May 31, 2009

savehome

On May 20, 2009, President Obama signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 into law.

The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 is an important step towards stabilizing and reforming our nation’s financial and housing markets – helping American homeowners and increasing the flow of credit during these difficult economic times.  This legislation will strengthen our nation’s housing sector and facilitate the goals of the Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program by helping millions of American homeowners stay in their homes.

Before signing the bill, President Obama said the bill “expands the reach of our existing housing plan for homeowners with FHA or USDA rural housing loans, providing them with new opportunities to modify or refinance their mortgages to more affordable levels.”

Expanding reach of Making Home Affordable to help more homeowners

The deep contraction in the economy and in the housing market has created devastating consequences for homeowners and communities throughout the country.  Since January, the Administration has made significant progress in developing and implementing a comprehensive plan for stabilizing our housing market, the centerpiece of which is the Making Home Affordable Program (MHA). By reducing foreclosures around the country, the average homeowner could see their house price bolstered by as much as $6,000 as a result of this plan, and as many as 9 million homeowners may increase the affordability of their mortgages and avoid preventable foreclosures.

Improvements to Hope for Homeowners

The legislative improvements to Hope for Homeowners included in S.896 should significantly improve the ability of borrowers to benefit from the opportunities provided by Hope for Homeowners in the context of the Administration’s housing plan.  On April 28th, the White House announced new details describing how Hope for Homeowners will be strengthened as a part of the Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program.  Incentive payments will be available for successful Hope for Homeowners refinances and loan servicers will be required to evaluate all applicants for eligibility for Hope for Homeowners as well as the Home Affordable Modification Program.

Hope for Homeowners targets help to underwater borrowers, who often face heightened risks of foreclosure, by requiring principal write downs to help homeowners increase the equity they own in their homes.  The legislative modifications to the Hope for Homeowners program included in S.896 will ease restrictions on eligibility and enable refinancing of underwater mortgages for a greater number of borrowers.

Modifications to FHA and federally guaranteed farm loans

Legislative changes to FHA and federally guaranteed farm loans will facilitate cost-neutral loan modifications for federally guaranteed rural housing loans and FHA loans.  These changes will improve the Administration’s ability to provide assistance to responsible borrowers with federally guaranteed rural housing loans and FHA loans as part of the Making Home Affordable Program.

Establishes protections for renters and living in foreclosured homes

One of the often overlooked problems in the foreclosure crisis has been the eviction of renters in good standing, through no fault of their own, from properties in foreclosure.  To address the problem of these tenants being forced out of their homes with little or no notice, this legislation will require that in the event of foreclosure, existing leases for renters are honored, except in the case of month-to-month leases or owner occupants foreclosing in which cases a minimum of 90 days notice will be required.  Parallel protections are put in place for Section 8 tenants.

Establishes right of a homeowner to know who owns their mortgage

Often mortgage loans are sold and transferred a number of times.  Borrowers often have difficulty determining who owns their loan, and who to contact with questions, problems or complaints about their loan.  This legislation requires that borrowers be informed whenever their loan is sold or transferred, so that they will always know who owns their loan.

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Making Home Affordable Plan

May 23, 2009

MHA_Logo

The Obama Administration has introduced a plan to try to stabilize the housing market called the Making Home Affordable (MHA) Plan. Through this plan, up to an estimated 7 – 9 million American families may be eligible to refinance or modify their loans to a payment that is affordable now and into the future.

Under this plan, there are two programs:

  • Home Affordable Refinance Program
  • Home Affordable Modification Program

Home Affordable Refinance Program

The Home Affordable Refinance Program gives up to an estimated 4 – 5 million homeowners with loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac an opportunity to refinance into more affordable monthly payments. 

Many homeowners pay their mortgages on time but are not able to refinance to take advantage of today’s lower mortgage rates perhaps due to a decrease in the value of their home. A Home Affordable Refinance will help borrowers whose loans are held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac refinance into a more affordable mortgage.

Will the Home Affordable Refinance Program help me?

Eligible borrowers who are current on their mortgages but have been unable to take advantage of today’s lower interest rates because their homes have decreased in value may now have the opportunity to refinance. Through the Home Affordable Refinance Program, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow the refinancing of mortgage loans that they own or that they placed in mortgage backed securities.

How do I know if I am eligible?

You may be eligible if:

  • You are the owner occupant of a 1 – 4 unit home
  • The loan on the property is owned or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (If you don’t know, click here)
  • At the time you apply, you are current on your mortgage payments (current means that you haven’t been more than 30 days late on your mortgage payment in the last 12 months or if you have had the loans for less than 12 months, you have never missed a payment)
  • You believe that the amount you owe on your first mortgage is about the same or slightly less than the current value of your house (You may be eligible if your first mortgage does not exceed 105% of the current market value of your home. For example, if your property is worth $200,000 but you owe $210,000 or less on your first mortgage, you may be eligible. The current value of your property will be determined after you apply to refinance)
  • You have income sufficient to support the new mortgage payments, and
  • The refinance improves the long term affordability or stability of your loan

You may also take the Eligibility Test to determine if you qualify.

How do I apply for a Home Affordable Refinance?

You should call your mortgage servicer or lender and ask about the Home Affordable Refinance application process. The number is on your monthly mortgage bill or coupon book.

Note: Please be patient. Lenders and servicers are implementing the program now and there might be a slight delay before they are ready to process all applications. In the meantime, it will help your lender and speed up the application process if you gather some information and documents before you call.

APPLICATION CHECKLIST:

  • Information about your mortgage such as your monthly mortgage statement and
  • Information about the monthly gross (before tax) 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 or home equity line of credit on the house
  • Account balances and monthly payments on all your other debts such as student loans, car loans, personal loans, etc.

Home Affordable Modification Program

The Home Affordable Modification Program will reduce monthly payments on existing first lien mortgages for up to an estimated 3 – 4 million at-risk homeowners.

Many homeowners are struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments perhaps because their interest rate has increased or they have less income. A Home Affordable Modification will provide them with mortgage payments they can afford.

Will the Home Affordable Modification Program help me?

If you can no longer afford to make your monthly payments, you may qualify for a loan modification to make your monthly payments more affordable. Millions of borrowers who are current, but having difficulty making their payments and borrowers who have missed 1 or more payments may be eligible.

How do I know if I am eligible?

You may be eligible if:

  •  Your home must be an owner-occupied primary residence (verified with tax return, credit report, and other documentation such as a utility bill)
  • Your home must be a single-family 1 -4 unit property (including condominiums, cooperatives, and manufactured homes affixed to a foundation and treated as real property under state law)
  • Your home must not be vacant or condemned
  • First lien loans must have an unpaid principal balance (prior to capitalization of arrearages) that is equal to or less than:
  • 1 unit properties = $729,750
  • 2 unit properties = $934,200
  • 3 unit properties = $1,129,250
  • 4 unit properties = $1,403,400
  • Your mortgage must have originated on or before January 1, 2009
  • Have a mortgage payment (including taxes, insurance, home owner’s association dues) that is more than 31% of your gross monthly income (If you are uncertain, click here)
  • Have a mortgage payment that is not affordable, perhaps because of a significant change in income or expenses

You may also take the Eligibility Test  to determine if you qualify.

Note: Eligibility requirements are simply government guidelines. Guidelines may change, and lenders make exceptions, if it is in their best interest to do so.  In other words, homeowners should not count themselves out.  If they are having trouble making their house payment, they should explore the loan modification option.  Sometimes, the only way to determine whether you qualify is to apply.

How do I apply for a Home Affordable Modification?

You should call your mortgage servicer or lender and ask about the Home Affordable Modification application process. The number is on your monthly mortgage bill or coupon book.

Note: Please be patient. Lenders and servicers are implementing the program now and there might be a slight delay before they are ready to process all applications. In the meantime, it will help your lender and speed up the application process if you gather some information and documents before you call.

APPLICATION CHECKLIST:

  • Information about your gross monthly  (before taxes) income, 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 your savings and other assets
  • Information about your first mortgage, such as your monthly mortgage statement
  • Information about any second mortgage or home equity line of credit on your house
  • Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on all of your credit cards
  • Account balances and monthly payments on all your other debts such as student loans, car loans, personal loans, etc.
  • A letter describing any circumstances that caused your income to be reduced or expenses to be increased (job loss, divorce, illness, etc.) if applicable

Note: Many lenders have made a committment to delay foreclosure on all loans that meet the minimum eligibility criteria for a home affordable modification

Free Counseling Help

There are two options for free counseling help:

  • Contact me via email freezeforeclosure@gmail and we’ll set up a time to talk.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable talking to me then another free resource is to contact a HUD-approved housing counselor. They provide the same advice I do. The only difference is who you feel more comfortable working with.

What to expect?

Either the housing counselor or I will talk to you about your situation and help you decide what mortgage options are best for you. We will explain what documents you will need to provide to your mortgage company. We can also help you make a budget so that you can meet your monthly mortgage payment and other expenses. There is no charge to work with either one of us.

Before you call 

Gather the following documents:

  • Information about your gross monthly  (before taxes) income, 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 your savings and other assets
  • Information about your first mortgage, such as your monthly mortgage statement
  • Information about any second mortgage or home equity line of credit on your house
  • Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on all of your credit cards
  • Account balances and monthly payments on all your other debts such as student loans, car loans, personal loans, etc.
  • A letter describing any circumstances that caused your income to be reduced or expenses to be increased (job loss, divorce, illness, etc.) if applicable

Immediate Assistance

If you are delinquent on your loan payments and need immediate assistance, call myself at 571-249-4357 or 888-995-HOPE (4673)


Does Fannie Mae Own Your Mortgage?

May 12, 2009

fannie_mae

The Fannie Mae Loan Lookup enables mortgage borrowers to quickly determine if Fannie Mae owns their loan by providing a street address, city, state, and zip code.

Borrower Beware….in fine print  at the bottom, it states that “Fannie Mae makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee regarding the accuracy or completeness of the results. A search that results in “Match Found” status does not guarantee or imply that you will qualify for a Making Home Affordable refinance or modification. You should contact your mortgage lender to verify these results.”

So what does it matter if Fannie Mae owns your mortgage?

If your mortgage loan is owned by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be eligible for certain refinance or modification options under under President Obama’s Making Home Affordable Plan.

***NOTE: You may also be eligible for modification options even if your loan is not owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.***


What’s More Damaging To Your Credit: A Short Sale Or A Foreclosure?

May 12, 2009

CNNMoney_LOGO2.0

According to Gerri Willis, Money magazine contributing writer and host of CNN’s “Your Bottom Line,” a short sale in which you negotiate with the bank to sell your home for less than you owe on your mortgage, will have a dramatically negative affect on your credit.

That said, if you’re underwater on your mortgage and you need to move, a short sale is a better option than foreclosure. Going through foreclosure will make it very difficult for you to get a loan for at least three to five years; if you’ve done a short sale, you may be able to qualify for a new mortgage within two years.

BOTTOM LINE:  Choosing a short sale over foreclosure is difficult. Both take a bite out of your credit rating. But one is easier to recover from.


BOA Loosening Short Seller Policy

May 2, 2009

Bank of America (BOA) says it will relax its policy on payoffs connected with short sales.  Large banks have been demanding money for home equity lines and second mortgages that would otherwise be worthless if the short sale property went to foreclosure.

Old Policy:

BOA has been among the least cooperative of all banks in agreeing to short sale payoff terms, demanding 10% of what the homeowners owed on the equity line balance or second mortgage before signing off on the short sale, which is necessary for the deal to go through.  BOA spokesman Terry Francisco says the new policy is “less arbitrary, more rational.”

New Policy:

BOA’s new policy is to ask for 5% of the sale proceeds on the short sale, net of realty commissions, closing, and other costs. Some short sellers point to problems, though:  The bank’s previous 10 percent policy meant they’d demand $20,000 on a $200, 000 equity line balance, but under their new policy it will cost the short seller $15,000 if the net proceeds are $300,000″ on a short sale, even though the economic value of their holding may in fact be zero. Says the Realty Times:  “Bottom line for investors: If there’s a Bank of America second mortgage or credit line on the house you’re after in a short sale, work the new numbers.  At least some of the time you might be surprised that the answer from the big bank is now ‘yes.'”


Understanding the Terms Used in Foreclosure

May 1, 2009

 

If you are working with your lender to keep your home, known as retention, there are several options:

  • Reinstatement: Your lender may agree to let you pay the total amount you are behind, in a lump sum payment and by a specific date. This is often combined with forbearance when you can show that funds from a bonus, tax refund, or other source will become available at a specific time in the future. Be aware that there may be late fees and other costs associated with a reinstatement plan.
  • Forbearance: Your lender may offer a temporary reduction or suspension of your mortgage payments while you get back on your feet. Forbearance is often combined with a reinstatement or a repayment plan to pay off the missed or reduced mortgage payments.
  • Repayment Plan: This is an agreement that gives you a fixed amount of time to repay the amount you are behind by combining a portion of what is past due with your regular monthly payment. At the end of the repayment period you have gradually paid back the amount of your mortgage that was delinquent.
  • Loan Modification: This is a written agreement between you and your mortgage company that permanently changes one or more of the original terms of your note to make the payments more affordable.

If you and your lender agree that you cannot keep your home, there are a number of liquidation terms you should understand:

  • Short Sale: Nothing more than when a lender is willing to accept less than what is owed on outstanding debts against real property. A short sale is a way for a homeowner to avoid foreclosure and still be able to pay off the bank from acceptance or a settlement agreement.
  • Deed-in-lieu of Foreclosure: A cancellation of your mortgage if you voluntarily transfer title of your property to your mortgage company. Usually, you must try to sell your home for its fair market value (FMV) for at least 90 days before a mortgage company will consider this option. A deed-in-lieu of foreclosure may not be an option if there are other liens on the property, such as second mortgages, judgments from creditors, or tax liens.
  • Assumption: An assumption permits a qualified buyer to take over your mortgage debt and make the mortgage payments, even if the mortgage is non-assumable. As a result, you may be able to sell your property and avoid foreclosure.

Does Freddie Mac Own Your Mortgage?

May 1, 2009

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There are two options to determine if Freddie Mac owns the mortgage:

  1. You may conduct a search using Freddie Mac’s secured look-up tool. Be sure enter your information carefully — a spelling error or other small mistake could cause an uncertain result. Abbreviations, typos, or including the “Street Type” in the “Street Name” field can lead to incorrect results.
  2. Your mortgage servicer (aka. lender) — the organization to which you make your mortgage payments — should be able to tell you if your mortgage is owned by Freddie Mac. The telephone number and mailing address of your mortgage servicer should be listed on your monthly statement.

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