Obama Mortgage Rescue Plan FAQ

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Loan modification and loan refinancing are two components that make up the Obama Foreclosure prevention plan. This FAQ will help you determine if qualify and what you need to do.

Obama's Making Home Affordable Initiiative

President Obama recently announced a $75 billion initiative called the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan (HASP) . One of the principal tenants of the plan is called the Making Home Affordable initiative. This initiative is comprised of two parts:

  • The Home Affordable Refinance program which will help homeowner's refinance their mortgages.
  • The Home Affordable Modification program which is designed to reduce monthly mortgage payments for people who are close to foreclosure by modifying their mortgages and lowering the payments on their loans.

REFINANCING PROGRAM

How do I know if I qualify for the refinancing program?

In order to qualify for the refinancing program, your loan must be owned or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

How can I determine if my loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

The simplest way is to call your mortgage servicer. You should be able to find their phone number on your most recent statement. Your mortgage servicer might be a little difficult to reach right now with all the questions surrounding these new programs.

Thus, you can also contact Fannie Mae at 1-800-7FANNIE and Freddie Mac at 1-800-FREDDIE from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Or, you can go to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and fill out their online request forms.

My loan is owned by Fannie Mae, are there any other requirements?

You must be current on your payments and your loan balance can be no more than 105% of the current market value of your home. So for example, if your home is worth $300,000, the balance on your loan cannot be greater than $315,000.

Can I shop around for the best rates?

If your loan is owned by Freddie Mac, you must refinance through your current mortgage servicer. If your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae, you can shop for the best rates, but you must refinance through a Fannie Mae approved lender.

Are there any fees to refinance?

Lenders and mortgage brokers will in most cases charge fees although these will vary and there is a good chance you will be able to "roll" those fees into the mortgage.

How long do I have to refinance my loan?

The refinance program will be available until the end of June 2010.

I have a second mortgage, can I still refinance my first mortgage?

You can, but your lender on the second mortgage must agree to remain in a "second position". Also, the amount you can refinance is still limited by the same 105% of current market value mentioned above.

How do I get started refinancing my loan?

The easiest way is to answer a series of qualifying questions at the FinancialStability.gov web site here: www.financialstability.gov/makinghomeaffordable/refinance_eligibility.html .

LOAN MODIFICATION PROGRAM

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How do I know if I qualify for the loan modification program?

Mortgages must be for a single-family residence with a loan balance no greater than $729,750, the home must be your primary residence, you must demonstrate financial hardship, and your mortgage payment must be more than 31% of your gross monthly income.

What do you mean by "financial hardship"?

You must demonstrate you don't have enough readily available "liquid assets" to pay your current monthly mortgage payment. Be prepared to provide your most recent tax return, and two recent pay stubs.

So, do I need to be behind on my monthly mortgage payments?

Not necessarily, if you can show that your current income is no longer enough to make your payment because your other expenses have risen or you have taken a pay-cut, that maybe sufficient.

I took a 30% pay-cut, but I have a large 401k, can I still qualify?

Your retirement assets are not included in any determination of "financial hardship".

Are there any fees associated with the loan modification program?

Unlike the refinance program, there are absolutely no fees associated with the loan modification program.

How does it all work?

Once it is determined that you qualify, service providers will be required to follow a sequence of steps that modify the loan in order to reduce the monthly loan payment to no more than 31% of gross monthly income. For example, the interest rate can be lowered to as low as 2 per cent and the term of the mortgage can be extended to a maximum of 40 years in order to maximize the reduction in loan payment.

How long does the modification last?

Any interest rate reduction will remain in effect for five years. Your rate will then increase by one percentage point per year to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market survey rate at the time of your loan.

I also have a second mortgage, can I get it reduced or removed?

Anyone who has their mortgage modified under this program will have the chance to have their second mortgage forgiven if they make timely payments for three months. The program states that the Treasury Dept. will actually make a cash offer to the owner of the second mortgage to forgive the debt. The lender can refuse the offer, however there is a good chance they will accept since they are likely to receive more money this way than if the home went to foreclosure.

I heard that there are incentives to make timely payments, is that true?

Yes, homeowners who make their mortgage payments in a timely manner are eligible for $1,000 reductions in the principal of their loan every year for five years.

How do I get started modifying my loan?

The easiest way is to answer a series of qualifying questions at the FinancialStability.gov web site here: www.financialstability.gov/makinghomeaffordable/modification_eligibility.html .

Where can I get more information?

The best place to start for both the loan refinancing program and the loan modification program at the U.S. Treasury site at: http://www.financialstability.gov/

This article contains general information. Individual financial situations are unique; please, consult your financial advisor or tax attorney before utilizing any of the information contained in this article.

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Source: Treasury.gov
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