RE: President Obama’s Proposed Mortgage Modification Plan
Presently, I have two immediate concerns:
1. The proposed plan for mortgage modification does not reduce the principal on loans. What happens when the homeowner goes to sell?
2. The seeming trend of homeowners postponing the resolution of their distressed property problem, waiting for the government to bail them out. The longer homeowners wait, the harder it will be to resolve their situation.
Here are highlights on the new mortgage program proposed by President Obama at the State of the Union address:
To be eligible, borrowers would have to have made their mortgage payments over the last six months with only one delinquency, and their loan amount couldn’t exceed the FHA loan limit for their area. If borrowers owe more than 140 percent of the value of their home, the lender has to agree to reduce the loan balance.
1) The owner is allowed to have only missed one payment in the past 6 months. That shouldn’t be too large of an obstacle for most owners to overcome……but….
2) Owners who are underwater by more than 40% must get their lender to agree to forgive the negative equity. LENDERS must agree to do this. Lenders would have to get investors to agree to this forgiveness.
3) The negative equity is STILL ON THE LOAN with this re-fi plan. Owners would get a lower payment but, still be underwater. When these owners go to sell and if they were still underwater they would have to sell as a short sale or lose the home through the foreclosure process. As long as owners are underwater there will never be a real housing recovery.
4) This proposed plan is open for non-GSE backed loans.
5) Congress has to sign off on this housing plan.
During his State of the Union speech last week, President Obama proposed to help boost the housing market by helping more upside-down homeowners.
In the details he released today, the President said he wants to make the federal government’s existing mortgage refinance program, called HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) available to more home owners. It’s currently available to struggling borrowers with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. For these borrowers, incentives are provided under certain conditions to make refinancing more attractive.
Under the new proposal, this HARP program would be expanded to include borrowers with loans that aren’t backed by Fannie and Freddie. These are the borrowers whose loans were securitized in private-label securities without any federal backing, and they would be allowed to refinance into FHA-backed loans, the same as the Fannie and Freddie borrowers. The administration has estimated that borrowers would save $3,000 a year in mortgage costs.
To be eligible, borrowers would have to have made their mortgage payments over the last six months with only one delinquency, and their loan amount couldn’t exceed the FHA loan limit for their area. If borrowers owe more than 140 percent of the value of their home, the lender has to agree to reduce the loan balance. Also, borrowers wouldn’t have to submit a full file of paperwork for the refinancing as long as they can verify their employment. The proposal also would enable borrowers who still have equity in their home—up to 20 percent—to participate.
The changes will require legislation, so Congress will have to agree to them for the expanded program to take effect.
In his State of the Union speech last week, Obama said he would pay for the expanded program using a fee charged to the country’s largest banks so the initiative wouldn’t add to the deficit. But some members of Congress have said they oppose charging banks a fee to cover the cost.
The Obama plan would also introduce a Bill of Rights for home owners, part of which is intended to smooth the mortgage modification and foreclosure processes, which today can be contentious and difficult for borrowers to understand. A key part of this is an effort to curb banks’ practice of undertaking a mortgage modification while at the same time proceeding with a foreclosure—a process called dual tracking. Before they can start foreclosure, banks will have to show they took all reasonable steps to modify a borrower’s mortgage.
To help ease inventories of foreclosed homes, the plan would give a green light to Fannie Mae to implement a pilot program to make foreclosures available to investors in bulk purchases for conversion to rental housing. Under the pilot, Fannie would package for sale foreclosed homes in a limited number of markets and require them to be used as rental properties for a period of time.
NAR (National Association of Realtors) has concerns with this proposal and has been talking with federal regulators to ensure that the program is carefully tailored to the communities who can truly benefit from it, that small and medium-sized investors be able to participate, and that real estate professionals continue to play a role in the disposition of the homes.
In a statement released after the President outlined the details of his proposal, NAR said it’s urging the regulator of Fannie and Freddie, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, “to proceed cautiously with the REO-to-rental program since housing markets are complex and varied.
“NAR believes an overly aggressive REO-to-rental program that is not privately administered by local entities and does not involve substantial participation of local market experts, especially licensed real estate professionals, could be disruptive and counterproductive to communities already suffering from high foreclosure inventories and lower housing values.”