FAQs for Fannie Mae’s Alternative HAMP Modification

March 30, 2010

 What is Fannie Mae’s Alternative Modification (Alt Mod)?

The Alt Mod is an alternative to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) modification for those borrowers who were eligible for and accepted into a HAMP trial period plan but were subsequently not offered a HAMP permanent modification because of eligibility restrictions.

Are servicers required to offer the Alt Mod?

Yes, for mortgage loans in active HAMP trials initiated prior to March 1, 2010, all Fannie Mae-approved servicers must consider the Alt Mod prior to the initiation of foreclosure for all eligible borrowers who were not offered a permanent HAMP modification after making all required payments under a HAMP trial period plan. All borrowers must meet the eligibility criteria outlined below.

What are the benefits of an Alt Mod?

An Alt Mod offers you a permanent long-term solution to make your mortgage more affordable.

If I didn’t qualify for a permanent modification under HAMP, will I qualify for an Alt Mod?

The requirements for an Alt Mod have been designed specifically to assist borrowers, who were unable to qualify for a permanent modification through HAMP. If borrowers made their HAMP Trial Period Plan payments and have completed the HAMP Trial Period Plan, borrowers are likely a candidate for an Alt Mod. Once the servicer has the borrower’s required information, the servicer will review to see if the borrowers are eligible.

How do I qualify for Alt Mod/What do I need to do to get approved?

To begin the qualification process, review the Alt Mod Loan Modification Agreement and the Hardship Affidavit and return back to the servicer by the specified date.

Why do I need to sign another Loan Modification Agreement…I already did this for HAMP?

Alt Mod is a new loan modification option offered by Fannie Mae (the owner of your loan). It is not a part of the government’s loan modification program, HAMP. The Alt Mod was created for borrowers who were not approved for HAMP. The borrowers’ terms and payment amount should be the same as that of HAMP. All eligible borrowers who want to accept the terms of an Alt Mod, must read, agree, and sign a new Loan Modification Agreement

I am currently paying the trial period payment that was specified under HAMP. Do I keep paying this same amount? Will my payment change if I get an Alternative Modification?

Yes, keep paying the same payment amount you were paying during the HAMP Trial Period. If you are eligible for an Alternative Modification, your payment should stay the same. The Alt Mod Loan Modification Agreement will specify your payment amount and when your payments are due.

When are my payments due?

If you are eligible for an Alternative Modification, you will sign an Alt Mod Loan Modification Agreement which specifies your payment amount and the day each month that your payment is due.

Is there a trial period I have to complete?

No. There is no trial period for Alt Mod. If you are eligible for an Alt Mod, once approved and the Loan Modification Agreement completed, your loan will be permanently modified.

Will I still receive the incentive compensation offered through the HAMP program?

No. An Alt Mod does not offer an incentive compensation for borrowers. The borrower incentive compensation is only available to borrowers who were eligible/qualified for a permanent modification under HAMP.

Is the Alt Mod a temporary servicing policy change?

Yes, Alt Mod cases must be submitted through the HomeSaver Solutions® Network (HSSN) prior to the final date of the program offering, August 31, 2010.

Which Fannie Mae loans are eligible for an Alt Mod?

All conventional mortgage loans held in Fannie Mae’s portfolio and mortgage loans that are part of an MBS pool that has the special servicing option or a shared-risk MBS pool for which Fannie Mae markets the acquired property.

Who qualifies are an Alt Mod?

To be eligible for the Alt Mod:

  • The loan must have been evaluated and considered eligible for HAMP
  • The HAMP trial period must have been initiated prior to March 1, 2010
  • The loan must be secured by a 1- 4 unit owner-occupied property
  • The borrower must have made all required payments in accordance with a HAMP trial period plan, including subsequent payments that may have been due while the servicer attempted to convert the trial period to a permanent modification
  • Any subsequent trial period payment(s) due from the borrower must be submitted prior to executing a permanent modification agreement

Additionally, one of the following is required for Alt Mod eligibility:

  • The monthly mortgage payment ratio based on verified income was less than 31%
  • The target monthly mortgage payment ratio of 31% based on verified income could not be reached using the standard HAMP modification waterfall
  • The borrower failed to provide all income documentation required for a HAMP modification but meets the streamlined income documentation requirements for the Alt Mod as described below

 What are the underwriting guidelines for an Alt Mod?

A servicer must have a property valuation as required for HAMP in Announcement 09-05R. The servicer must use that valuation to underwrite the Alt Mod.

For loans with a current mark-to-market loan-to-value (LTV) of 80% or greater (LTV ratio based upon the HAMP valuation), the payment calculated for HAMP using the standard modification waterfall should be used for the Alt Mod, and verification of income documentation (as described below) is not necessary.

For loans with a current mark-to-market LTV ratio of less than 80%, the payment calculated for HAMP using the standard modification waterfall should be used for the Alt Mod and income verification is required (as described below). However, the Alt Mod mortgage payment may not be reduced below 20% of the borrower’s verified monthly gross income.

  • If the borrower did not qualify for a HAMP modification because the borrower failed to provide all required income documentation but the income documentation meets the streamlined income documentation requirements for the Alt Mod, the servicer may use the payment previously calculated for the HAMP trial period for the Alt Mod provided that the payment meets the criteria outlined above.
  • If, after applying the modification waterfall steps based on verified income documentation, the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment cannot be reduced without going below a 20% monthly mortgage payment ratio, the servicer may not perform the modification without the express written consent of Fannie Mae. A principal write-down or principal forgiveness is prohibited on Fannie Mae mortgage loans.

What are the Alt Mod income verification requirements for loans with current mark-to-market LTV ratios less than 80%?

A servicer may use the verified income documentation required under HAMP to calculate the payment for the Alt Mod. If the borrower is ineligible for a HAMP modification because of failure to provide the required income documentation, the servicer may rely upon the following streamlined documentation requirements for the Alt Mod.

If the borrower is employed: A copy of the most recent paystub indicating year-to-date earnings or if year-to-date earnings are not available, copies of paystubs for the last two months.

If the borrower elects to use other earned income such as bonus, commission, fee, housing allowance, tips, overtime: Reliable third party documentation describing the nature of the income (for example, an employment contract or printouts documenting tip income).

If the borrower is self-employed: A signed copy of the most recent federal income tax return, including all schedules and forms, if available, or signed Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Request for Transcript of Tax Return (Form 4506-T); and copies of bank statements for the business account for the last two months to document continuation of business activity.

If the borrower elects to use alimony or child support income to qualify, acceptable documentation includes: Photocopies of the divorce decree, separation agreement or other type of legal written agreement or court decree that provides for the payment of alimony or child support and states the amount of the award and the period of time over which it will be received; and documents supplying reasonably reliable evidence of full, regular, and timely payments, such as bank deposit slips or bank statements for the last two months.

If the borrower has other income such as Social Security, disability or death benefits, a pension, public assistance or adoption assistance: Acceptable documentation includes letters, exhibits, a disability policy or benefits statement from the provider that states the amount, frequency and duration of the benefit; and the servicer must obtain copies of the most recent bank statement showing these deposits.

If the borrower receives unemployment: Acceptable documentation includes letters, exhibits or a benefits statement from the provider that states the amount, frequency, and duration of the benefit. The servicer must have determined that the income will continue for at least 9 months from the date of the HAMP eligibility determination.

If the borrower has rental income, acceptable documentation includes: Copies of all pages from the borrower’s signed federal income tax return and Schedule E – Supplemental Income and Loss, for the most recent tax year.

  • When Schedule E is not available because the property was not previously rented, servicers may accept a current lease agreement and bank statements or cancelled rent checks.
  • If the borrower has rental income from a 1 – 4 unit property that is also the borrower’s principal residence, the monthly net rental income to be calculated for HAMP purposes must equal 75% of the gross rent, with the remaining 25% being considered vacancy loss and maintenance expense.
  • If the borrower has rental income from a property that is other than the borrower’s primary residence, the income should be 75% of the monthly gross rental income, reduced by the monthly debt service on the property (i.e., principal, interest, taxes, insurance, including mortgage insurance and association fees, if applicable

Income documentation previously obtained during the HAMP evaluation may be relied upon for the purposes of verifying income for the Alt Mod. All other income documentation must not be more than 90 days old from the date of the Alt Mod evaluation.

Is a hardship affidavit required for Alt Mod?

Yes, in all cases a signed hardship affidavit is required. For borrowers that did not provide one under HAMP, a hardship affidavit may be included in the Alt Mod offer package for signature along with the Loan Modification Agreement (Form 3179).

How should servicers treat loans with mortgage insurance?

Fannie Mae is seeking blanket delegations of authority from mortgage insurers so that servicers can more efficiently process Alt Mods without having to obtain mortgage insurer approval on individual loans. Servicers must obtain approval on a case-by-case basis from mortgage insurers that have not provided delegated authority agreements.

Servicers must include the mortgage insurance premium in the borrower’s modified payment and must ensure that any existing mortgage insurance is maintained. Servicers must maintain their mortgage insurance processes and comply with all reporting required by the mortgage insurer for Alt Mod loans.

What are the escrow requirements for Alt Mod?

All of the borrower’s trial period payments under HAMP as well as the payments due under the Alt Mod must include a monthly escrow amount unless prohibited by applicable law.

What are the messaging requirements for the Alt Mod offer from servicers to borrowers?

  • Clearly indicate that, while the Alt Mod contains the same payment terms as the HAMP modification, the borrower did not meet the requirements of HAMP and as a result, the Alt Mod does not include borrower incentive payments that are otherwise payable under HAMP
  • Provide the borrower with a simplified Summary of the Loan Modification Agreement
  • Inform the borrower that, in the event of re-default, the servicer will pursue liquidation options
  • Remind the borrower of the consequences of material misstatements when submitting documentation in connection with a request for a loan modification

What are the timing expectations for Alt Mod offers?

For qualified borrowers who are already identified as ineligible for a permanent HAMP Modification, Alt Mod offers should be sent no later than 30 days from the date of Lender Letter LL-2010-04. Going forward, for other borrowers who:  1) entered into a trial period plan prior to March 1, 2010, 2) fail to qualify for a permanent HAMP modification, and 3) are determined to be eligible for Alt Mod, offers should be sent within 10 days of completion of the trial periods and expiration of the 30-day HAMP Borrower Notice. All Alt Mod offers should also include an expiration date of 30 days from the date of the offer

For borrowers who do not respond to the Alt Mod offer, servicers must conduct follow-up:

  • Between the fifth and the 15th days after the offer is mailed, servicers must attempt at least 3 phone calls.
  • On the 15th day after the offer is mailed, servicers must mail a follow-up letter by either mail or a direct contact, door-knocking campaign.
  • Between the 15th and 30th day, after the offer is mailed, servicers must attempt to contact the borrower a minimum of 3 additional times regarding the offer by either phone calls and/or use of field servicers (door knockers).

What are the incentive fees for Alt Mod?

A servicer will receive compensation of $800 for each completed modification. Incentive fee payments on eligible mortgage loans will be sent to servicers upon receipt of a closed case entered into HSSN. Servicers need not submit requests for payment of modification incentive fees. Modification incentive fees on eligible mortgages will be sent to servicers on a monthly basis.

Unlike HAMP, there are no borrower incentive payments available with Alt Mod.

How should servicers handle a borrower who re-defaults after receiving an Alt Mod?

If a borrower becomes 60 days delinquent on the Alt Mod within the first 12 months after the effective date of the modification, then the servicer must immediately pursue either a pre-foreclosure sale (short sale), deed-in-lieu (DIL) of foreclosure or commence foreclosure proceedings in accordance with applicable state law. Should a servicer determine that another modification is appropriate for the borrower; the servicer must submit the loan information as a non-delegated case into HSSN for Fannie Mae’s prior approval.

Advertisements

Credit After a Short Sale vs. Foreclosure

December 7, 2009

 

One of the most commonly asked questions about a short sale is how it will impact credit and the ability to purchase a home in the future. Whether you are a buyer, seller or investor, it’s imperative to educate yourself on this all important aspect of credit to become fully informed before making a final decision or in order to assist sellers in determining the right course of action for their financial future.

Here to help sort through the confusion is a quick primer on credit after a short sale vs. foreclosure. Remember, every situation is distinctive so these estimates represent the average experience of most individuals.

Note: Depending on the situation, circumstances may vary.

Average Time to Rebuild Credit to Purchase a Home

  • After a foreclosure: 5 – 7 years
  • After a foreclosure with extenuating circumstances such as, but not limited to: disability, death of a spouse, etc: 3 – 7 years
  • After a Deed in Lieu (DIL) of foreclosure: 4 – 7 years
  • After a Short Sale: 0 – 2 years

Other Alternatives

The above averages represent typical buying patterns for those using regular lenders to obtain a conventional loan or government backed loans; private investors are still viable options that enable many people to purchase another home immediately after any type of financial fiasco, including foreclosure. However, mortgage rates tend to be less favorable and requirements more stringent than ever. Just a few years ago it was quite easy to obtain a sub-prime mortgage for a relatively low rate above the preferred status, but today, much of that has changed. While it is still possible to obtain the equivalent of a sub-prime mortgage, be prepared to come up with a much larger down payment and higher overall rates.

Short Sales Win Hands Down

Sellers wishing to minimize damage to their financial future clearly come out ahead when using a short sale but it’s still possible to further decrease the downside by avoiding a 60-day late payment, working closely with the lender to achieve a quick price agreement, and setting aside as much funds as possible for a new loan. In fact, homeowners that maintain a solid payment history and work-out an agreeable short sale deal early may find it desirable to downsize to a new home by setting aside additional funds equal to 20% down. With Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) and a reduced debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, sellers are finding it possible to take advantage of lowered property values to immediately purchase another home for a fraction of the cost (and debt burden). 

Conclusion: It’s a win-win for all involved but, only if you understand the benefits and work aggressively to seal the deal.

*This post has been adapted from Real Estate News & Commentary by Chris McLaughlin


Home Affordable Refinance FAQs

June 5, 2009

interest-rates-low

I’m current on my mortgage. Will the Home Affordable Refinance 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 the refinance will improve the long term affordability or stability of my loan?

Your lender will give you a “Good Faith Estimate” that includes your new interest rate, mortgage payment and the amount you will pay over the life of the loan. Compare this to your current loan terms. If it is not an improvement, refinancing may not be right for you. Also consider that refinancing from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate loan or eliminating higher risk loan terms such as interest only payments or balloon payments may also provide long term stability.

I owe more than my property is worth. Do I still qualify to refinance under the Making Home Affordable Program?

Eligible loans will include those where the first mortgage will not exceed 105% of the current market value of the property. For example, if your property is worth $200,000 but you owe $210,000 or less on your first mortgage you may qualify. The current value of your property will be determined after you apply to refinance.

I have both a first and a second mortgage. Do I still qualify to refinance under Making Home Affordable?

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 for a Home Affordable Refinance. Your eligibility will depend, in part, on agreement by the lender that has your second mortgage remain in a second position, and on your ability to meet the new payment terms on the first mortgage.

Will refinancing lower my payments?

The objective of the Home Affordable Refinance is to provide creditworthy borrowers who have shown a commitment to paying their mortgage, the opportunity to get into a mortgage with payments that are affordable today and 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 and payment. However, these borrowers could save a great deal over the life of the loan by avoiding future mortgage payment increases. When you submit a loan application, your lender will give you 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.

What are the interest rate and other terms of this refinance offer?

The rate will be based on market rates in effect at the time of the refinance and any associated points and fees quoted by the lender. Interest rates may vary across lenders and over time as market rates adjust. The refinanced loans will have no prepayment penalties or balloon payments.

Will refinancing reduce the amount that I owe on my loan?

No. The objective of the Home Affordable Refinance is to help borrowers get into more affordable loans. Refinancing will not reduce the principal amount you owe to the first mortgage holder or any other debt you owe. However, refinancing should save you money by reducing the amount of interest that you pay over the life of the loan.

Can I get cash out to pay other debts?

No. However, borrowers whose loans are owned or securitized by Fannie Mae may be eligible to finance all closing costs and obtain a small amount of cash (2% of the mortgage amount not to exceed $2,000) through the refinance if there is sufficient equity. For borrowers whose loans are owned or securitized by Freddie Mac, transaction costs (not to exceed $2,500) such as the cost of an appraisal or title report, may be included in the refinanced amount.

I am delinquent on my mortgage. Will I qualify for a Home Affordable Refinance?

No. Borrowers who are currently delinquent or have been 30 days overdue more than once during the past 12 months will not qualify. You should contact your servicer to see if a Home Affordable Modification is an option for you.

Will I need mortgage insurance?

If your existing loan has private mortgage insurance, you will need the same amount of insurance coverage for the refinanced loan. If your existing loan does not have private mortgage insurance it will not be required as part of the Home Affordable Refinance.

How long will the Home Affordable Refinance be available?

The program expires on June 10, 2010. Your refinance transaction must be closed and funded on or before that date.


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)


The Homeowner Affordability & Stability Plan FAQs

February 26, 2009

The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is part of the President’s broad, comprehensive strategy to get the economy back on track. The plan is suppose to help up to 7 to 9 million families restructure or refinance their mortgages to avoid foreclosure. In doing so, the plan not only helps responsible homeowners on the verge of defaulting, but prevents neighborhoods and communities from being pulled over the edge too, as defaults and foreclosures contribute to falling home values, failing local businesses, and lost jobs.

More information can be found on the example sheet which will show you what options might be available to you, depending on the circumstances of your mortgage.

Disclaimer: This post is adapted from Treas.gov. We do not own this information. It is made available freely to the public. It is recommended that you consult a professional for loan advice.

Borrowers Who Are Current on Their Mortgage:

What help is available  for borrowers who stay current on their mortgage payments but have seen their homes decrease in value?

Under the Homeowner Affordability & Stability Plan, eligible borrowers who stay current on their mortgages but have been unable to refinance to lower interest rates because their homes have decreased in value, may now have the opportunity to refinance into a 30 or 15-year, fixed rate loan. Through the program, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow the refinancing of mortgage loans that they hold in their portfolios or that they placed in mortgage backed securities.

I owe more than my property is worth, do I still qualify to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

Eligible loans will now include those where the first mortgage (including any refinancing costs) will not exceed 105% of the current market value of the property. For example, if your property is worth $200,000 but you owe $210,000or less you may qualify. The current value of your property will be determined after you apply to refinance.

How do I know if I am eligible?

Complete eligibility details will be announced on March 4, 2009 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.

I have both a first and 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.

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 value 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, your lender will give you 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 option may not be right for you.

What are the interest rate and other terms of this refinance offer?

The objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to provide borrowers with a safe loan program with a fixed, affordable payment. All loans refinanced under the plan will have a 30 or 15-year term with a fixed interest rate. The rate will be based on market rates in effect at the time of the refinance and any associated points and fees quoted by the lender. Interest rates may vary across lenders and over time as market rates adjust. The refinanced loans will have no prepayment penalties or balloon notes.

Will refinancing reduce the amount I owe on my loan?

No. The objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to help borrowers refinance into safer, more affordable fixed rate loans. Refinancing will not reduce the amount you owe to the first mortgage holder or any other debt you owe. However, by reducing the interest rate, refinancing should save you money by reducing the amount of interest that you repay over the life of the loan.

How do I know if my loan is owned or has been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

To determine if your loaned is owned or has been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and is eligible to be refinanced, you should contact your mortgage lender after March 4, 2009.

When can I apply?

Mortgage lenders will begin accepting applications after the details of the program are announced on March 4, 2009.

What should I do in the meantime?

You should gather the information that you will need to provide your lender after March 4, 2009 when the refinance program becomes available. The includes:

  • information about the gross monthly income of all borrowers including your most 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 each credit cards if you are carrying balances from month to month
  • payments on other loans (i.e. student loans, car loans, etc.)

Borrowers Who Are at Risk of Foreclosure:   

What help is available for borrowers who are at risk of foreclosure either because their 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 o 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.

Do I need to be behind on my mortgage payments to be eligible for 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 loss of income, a significant increase in expenses, or an interest rate that will reset to an unaffordable level.

How do I know if I qualify for 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 the y0ur financial situation and detailed guidelines that will be available March 4, 2009.

I don’t 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 the 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.

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.

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

Only the first mortgage is eligible for modification.

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 your loan principal.  

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 5 years can have up to $5,000 applied to reduce their debt by the end of that period.

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.

Is my lender required to modify the 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.

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.

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, 2009, 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.

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, 2009, when the modification program becomes available. The includes:

  • information about your gross monthly income of your household including any recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources
  • your most recent 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
  • payments on other loans (i.e. student loans, car loans, etc.) 

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.


%d bloggers like this: