Short Sale, Foreclosure and Strategic Default


Friday, November 14, 2008

Loan Modification Programs - Hope for Homeowners

HOPE for Homeowners
NOTE: Homeowners, contact your existing lender and/or a new lender to discuss how you may qualify for the H4H program.

The HOPE for Homeowners (H4H) program was created by Congress to help those at risk of default and foreclosure refinance into more affordable, sustainable loans. H4H is an additional mortgage option designed to keep borrowers in their homes.

The program is effective from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2011.

As many as 400,000 homeowners could avoid foreclosure through this program over the next three years. If you are having trouble making your mortgage payments, HOPE for Homeowners may be able to help you, by refinancing your loan into a new 30-year fixed-rate loan with lower payments.

How the Program Works

There are four ways that a distressed homeowner could pursue participation in the HOPE for Homeowners program:

Homeowners may contact their existing lender and/or a new lender to discuss how to qualify and their eligibility for this program.

Servicers working with troubled homeowners may determine that the best solution for avoiding foreclosure is to refinance the homeowner into a HOPE for Homeowners loan.

Originating lenders who are looking for ways to refinance potential customers out from under their high-cost loans and/or who are willing to work with servicers to assist distressed homeowners.

Counselors who are working with troubled homeowners and their lenders to reach a mutually agreeable solution for avoiding foreclosure.

It is envisioned that the primary way homeowners will initially participate in this program is through the servicing lender on their existing mortgage. Servicers that do not have an underwriting component to their mortgage operations will partner with an FHA-approved lender that does.

Step 1: Cost-Benefit Analysis

Lender considerations:

Given their fiduciary responsibilities and financial obligations, lenders will assess their portfolio and perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine the feasibility of offering this program to struggling homeowners.

Affordability versus value: lenders will take a loss on the difference between the existing obligations and the new loan, which is set at 90 percent of current appraised value. The lender may choose to provide homeowners with an affordable monthly mortgage payment through a loan modification rather than accepting the losses associated with declining property values.
Borrower eligibility: Lenders that determine the H4H program is a feasible and effective option for mitigating losses will assess the homeowner’s eligibility for the program:

The existing mortgage was originated on or before January 1, 2008;
Existing mortgage payment(s) as of March 1, 2008 exceeds 31 percent of the borrowers gross monthly income;
The homeowner did not intentionally default, does not have an ownership interest in other residential real estate and has not been convicted of fraud in the last 10 years under Federal and state law; and
The homeowner did not provide materially false information (e.g., lied about income) to obtain the mortgage that is being refinanced into the H4H mortgage.

Consumer considerations:

The lender will disclose to the homeowner the benefits of the program:

Home retention,
New affordable mortgage based on current appraised value,
10 percent equity

The lender will also disclose to the homeowner the costs of the program:

3 percent upfront mortgage insurance premium and a 1.5 percent annual premium,
Equity and appreciation sharing with the Federal government, and<
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Prohibition against new junior liens against the property unless they are directly related to property maintenance.

For more information on Loan Modification

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