Details of Home Mortgage Assistance Plan

Details of President Obama’s plan to help struggling homeowners was announced today. This plan was announced a few weeks ago as the Making Home Affordable initiative. From the details which were announced today this plan helps two types of homeowners  and applies only to primary homes. This means you can not expect any help on your second (vacation) home or your investment property. To qualify you need to be either delinquent on your mortgage or be upside down on your home (owe more than your home is worth). The program applies to loans made on or before Jan. 1, 2009.

Here is how you can qualify if you are delinquent(or 60 days past due) on your mortgage:

  • You must have lost your job, suffered a pay cut or face higher mortgage payments.
  • You must meet the strict financial hardship guidelines of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  • These guidelines mandate you fully document your income with pay stubs, tax returns and sign an affidavit attesting to “financial hardship
  • You need to go for counseling if your total household debt — including auto loans, credit cards and alimony — totals more than 55% of your income.
  • Your homes unpaid principal balance can not exceed $729,750
  • Have a Fannie or Freddie Mac loan (call your loan servicer to find out)

For those who are upside down on their mortgage the government will help refinance the loan in an effort to lower payment and make the home more affordable. Uncle Sam is willing to lend as much as 105% of your home’s market value. Now, I’m not sure how many people can benefit from this because many people are way above that level these days. Especially in the Greater Phoenix Metro area. The best way to start the process is by calling your mortgage loan servicer. They are the ones that will decide whether you qualify or not because the government has given them a financial incentive to help you.

Here are some additional things to consider (from the NYTimes):

A mortgage lender or mortgage-servicing company would first receive cash incentives to modify a borrowers’ loan so that the monthly housing payment declines to no more than 38 percent of the family’s gross monthly income. At that point, the government would match, dollar for dollar, the lender’s cost in reducing the payments as low as 31 percent of monthly income.

The reduced payments could come in the form of a lower interest rate, longer mortgage term or a reduction in the principal outstanding loan amount. The lender would have to make a calculation on whether its cost from reducing the monthly payments, after accounting for the government’s cost-sharing, would be less than the costs it would incur from foreclosing on the house.

The guidelines indicate that a lender would have to make the loan concessions if the subsidized cost of doing so would be lower than the cost of foreclosure. The decision would become voluntary if the estimated costs of the concessions appeared to be higher than the cost of foreclosure. If the lender decided not to offer the modification, such as in the case of a borrower who had become unemployed and whose income had largely disappeared, it would be required to examine alternatives to foreclosure before seizing the house.

The program will run until Dec. 31, 2012.

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Streamlined Loan Modification Now Available

Last week Fannie Mae announced that the Streamlined Modification Program (SMP) would now be available to borrowers. This program is part of an ongoing effort by the GSE to prevent foreclosures. Borrowers of course need to meet certain requirements to participate in the program.

Tammy over at the Arizona Mortgage Team blog has done a nice job putting all the relevant information in one place for borrowers:

Under the Streamlined Loan Modification Program,  your mortgage and escrow payments can be cut to 38 percent or less of an eligible borrower’s gross monthly income by some combination of:

  • reducing mortgage rates
  • extending the mortgage term up to 40 years
  • forbearing on a part of the principal amount until the loan is paid off, then a balloon payment is required

Streamlined Loan Modification Program Eligibility Requirements

  • You must own and occupy the property as your primary residence
  • You must have missed at least three mortgage payments
  • You cannot have filed for bankruptcy

Head on over to her blog to read more.

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Changes to Declining Markets Policy

Over the past month or so Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made a few announcements regarding maximum loan levels. For some odd reason I didn’t post these changes as they were announced. Perhaps I was distracted by other things going on. So, I want to share with you some of the major changes which have been announced recently and how it could affect your situation for obtaining a home mortgage loan.

The really major change is regarding declining markets. As you may or may not be aware the term declining markets entered our lexicon late last year. In fact I even wrote a post suggesting that while “subprime” may have been the word of the year for 2007, “declining markets” has a good chance of being the word of the year for 2008. The reason being that because Fannie and Freddie (along with mortgage insurance companies) announced that they would be automatically cutting 5% off the the maximum loan to value on any property determined to be in a declining market. Now Arizona has been deemed a declining market, so it affects all loans in this great state of ours.

What does this mean to you? Well all Fannie and Freddie loans cap out at 95% which means the borrower needs to put 5% down from his/her own funds. This maximum loan amount was cut back to 90% in declining markets. Which meant the borrower no had to put 10% down for the same loan.

Recently Fannie and Freddie have made some changes stating that they would allow 95% loans again. The problem is finding mortgage insurance companies willing to insure mortgages up to that high of a loan to value. We have developed a relationship with such a mortgage insurance company. Hence, moving forward we are able to do loans upto 95% under the following conditions:

  • Fixed rate programs only (fully amortizing)
  • $417K max loan size
  • Primary residence only
  • Purchase or rate and term refinance (no cash out refinances allowed)
  • 680 minimum credit score

This is only part of the full set of guidelines, therefore it is important to review this completely with your lender. So I will forewarn you that not all will qualify for this new higher loan to value. Additionally this is a lender specific policy, different lenders have different risk tolerance and relationships with different mortgage insurance providers. Do not take this as an industry wide guideline.

The other changes announced are regarding loan to value for investment properties and cash out transactions. But due to the fact that the Phoenix market is designated a declining market, the changes do not really affect anything for loans here. Meaning our terms are already more strict and we are required to follow the more stringent guidelines when making an underwriting decision.

This site is for informational purposes only. It is not sponsored or in any way affiliated with the government. If you are in need of a mortgage loan, consult with a licensed mortgage professional. All fair housing and equal housing opportunity laws apply when applying for a mortgage or buying a home. Copyright 2012.