On February 18, President Obama announced a comprehensive plan to help responsible homeowners avoid foreclosure by providing affordable and sustainable mortgage loans. The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan provides for a sweeping loan modification program targeted at borrowers who are at risk of foreclosure because their incomes are not sufficient to make their mortgage payments. It also includes refinance opportunities for borrowers who are current on their mortgage payments but have been unable to refinance because their homes have decreased in value.
The U.S. Treasury has set up a Resource Center web site at www.financialstability.gov to provide information and handle consumer inquiries. A brief breakdown of the plan is provided here:
Under the Homeowner Stability Initiative, Treasury will spend up to $50 billion dollars to make mortgage payments affordable and sustainable for middle income American families that are at risk of foreclosure. Borrowers who are delinquent on the mortgage for their primary residence and borrowers who, due to a loss of income or increase in expenses, are struggling to keep their payments current may be eligible for a loan modification.
Treasury, HUD and other Federal Agencies are working with lenders and non-profit housing counselors to put all the systems in place to implement this massive program by March 4, 2009. In the meantime, borrowers can get additional information at www.financialstability.gov. This site includes questions and answers that will help homeowners determine if they are eligible for modification assistance.
There is no fee to borrowers for assistance through the Homeowner Stability Initiative. Beware of any organization that attempts to charge a fee for housing counseling or modification of a delinquent loan, especially if they ask for money in advance.
Borrowers who are delinquent and have not yet been in contact with their lender should call their servicer or a HUD-approved housing counselor immediately, whether or not they believe they are eligible for the Homeowner Stability Initiative. The Financial Stability website provides links to HUD-approved housing counselors and lists phone numbers for most lenders.
Under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan borrowers who are current on their mortgage but have been unable to refinance because their house has decreased in value, may now have the opportunity to refinance into a 30 year, fixed rate loan. Through the program, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow the refinance of mortgage loans that they hold in their portfolios or that they guarantee in their own mortgage-backed securities. Lenders will be able to begin accepting refinance applications on March 4, 2009. To determine if your loan is owned or has been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and is eligible for this refinance, you should contact your mortgage lender after March 4.
In the meantime, borrowers can get additional information at www.financialstability.gov. This site includes questions and answers that will help homeowners determine if they are eligible for refinance assistance. Information is also available at www.fanniemae.com and www.freddiemac.com.
Borrowers should beware of any organization that attempts to charge a fee for housing counseling or “assisting” you in finding a lender that will provide a refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, especially if they ask for money in advance.