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Making Those Mortgage Payments May Pay Off – After All

CIN Alert for November 1, 2011

The last 18 months have been rough for Dana. Sad to say, in the midst of the continuing Great Recession, she and her husband of three years have parted company. He’s not willing to help her at all, so she now has full responsibility for raising two toddlers and maintaining her job as a restaurant manager, while also paying the mortgage on their modest two-story home each month. There have been months when money has been so tight she’s had to ask her Mom to help out. Still, through all the adversity, Dana has managed to make her monthly mortgage payments on time. She’s never missed a payment, nor even been late.

Unfortunately, the value of her home has plunged from what it was when she purchased it in 2007, so she now finds herself in the same position as many other homeowners do today: upside down with a mortgage rate much higher than today’s going rates. Until now, there has been no way she could refinance or modify her mortgage loan to relieve some of the fiscal pressure she faces every month. However, there are signs that maybe — finally – there could be light at the end of the tunnel for Dana and millions of other Americans in the same boat underwater:

“The Obama Administration is launching yet another high-profile campaign to shore up the housing market — and with it, the economy — by making it easier for some struggling homeowners to refinance underwater mortgage loans at today’s ultra-low interest rates.

The federal government’s new rules will encourage borrowers to secure new loans no matter how much value their homes have lost during the nation’s housing crisis, with the hitch that they can’t have missed any mortgage payments for the last six months.

The plan could help 1 million to 2 million people get significantly lower monthly payments in hopes of stabilizing the real estate market. On top of that, it would boost the economy by putting about $2,500 more in a typical homeowner’s pocket each year, administration officials said. The plan amounts to a sweeping overhaul of the 2½-year-old Home Affordable Refinance Program, easing rules and reducing fees to allow many more homeowners potentially to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates.

The revisions include lifting a ceiling that barred participation by borrowers who owed more than 125% of the value of their homes, and using a controversial modeling method to replace costly appraisals that are among the fees that have kept some homeowners from refinancing. About 14.6 million mortgages nationwide were underwater at the end of the first quarter, about 29% of the nearly 51 million residential mortgages nationwide, according to Moody’s Analytics and Equifax.” (Source: Los Angeles Times)

Will these steps help?  Stay tuned.  Buying and maintaining a home can be a very emotional process for families.  This is the largest purchase most individuals will make — and one with long-lasting effects.  The home purchase process can also be confusing, and the terms of the loans offered are not always understandable for most of us (remember all the pages at closing!). It’s especially crucial in today’s economy that homeowners be aware of all the options available to them, and to avoid those deals that “sound too good to be true.” The results of the Obama Executive Orders will be seen in the weeks ahead.

Meantime, there are millions of homeowners today in desperate need of assistance with their housing issues. The CIN editors are watching many developments for you.

CIN’s Housing Section is a dependable reference tool for current and prospective homeowners. Information is updated on a daily basis. We offer details on various bank mortgage lending programs and mortgage banking programs to help borrowers understand the process they are entering as they select a home for purchase, or ways to maintain/refinance their home after purchase. It seems hardly a day goes by without another dramatic development. Consider these recent examples:

Mortgage refinancing to get easier under revised U.S. program
(Source: Los Angeles Times) New rules being implemented by the federal government will encourage borrowers to secure new loans no matter how much value their homes have lost during the nation’s housing crisis.

Obama looks to bypass Congress with help for homeowners, students
(Christian Science Monitor) President Obama is bypassing Congress and using executive powers to enact change. Strapped homeowners and indebted students are first in line under his relief plan.

SHRA to expand program to buy, rehab and resell foreclosed properties
(Source: Sacramento Press) The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency can now grant developers a first look at foreclosed properties for rehab and resale in Sacramento’s low- and moderate-income neighborhoods – before the properties are put on the open market. Through the new program developers can purchase vacant, foreclosed properties at discounted prices and then rehabilitate and resell those properties.

Cost of Fannie & Freddie bailouts trimmed
(Source: CNN Money) The cost to taxpayers for bailing out mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t be quite as bad as previous estimates.
The FHA now estimates that the net cost of the bailouts through 2014 will be about $124 billion, down about 19% from an estimate of $154 billion a year ago.

Reverse Mortgages to be Scrutinized
(Source: Mortgage Loan.com) Older borrowers are getting a new resource to assist them with reverse mortgages and other financial matters, courtesy of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans is one of several entities being established under the new bureau, with the goal of promoting financial literacy among Americans age 62 and over, and protecting them from unfair and abusive practices regarding financial decisions.

Senate Adopts Measure to Increase Fannie, Freddie Loan Limits
(Source: Bloomberg) The U.S. Senate has adopted a measure that would raise the maximum size of a home loan backed by mortgage companies Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration to $729,750. The measure was approved less than a month after the limit on so-called conforming loans was automatically reduced to $625,500.

  1. November 13, 2011 at 11:55 pm

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