Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Expansion of FHASecure Program Proposed

by Nancy Osborne, COO of ERATE


With over 8.5 million homeowners having virtually little to no equity in their homes, fears of mounting foreclosures continue to grow. In response to the problem, the White House has proposed expanding a program which has been in place since August of 2007 to help stem the tide. This existing Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program makes it possible for many low to moderate income borrowers to refinance into government-insured mortgages, resulting in more manageable monthly payments and helping almost 100,000 homeowners by expanding the role of FHA in dealing with the nationwide credit and housing crisis. FHA loans are insured by the federal government in cases of default though the mortgages themselves are made by private mortgage lenders such commercial banks and mortgage bankers, then after the loans have funded, they are bundled, packaged and sold as mortgage-backed securities known as Ginnie Mae's.

The program, called FHASecure, was established last year to help homeowners in distress who had some equity remaining in their home and had been able to make their mortgage payment but would face a substantial rate increase in the process of refinancing into a government insured fixed rate mortgage. Therefore the program was geared to help borrowers who were stuck in adjustable rate loans (ARMs) and were able to meet their payment obligation up until the point that their interest rate reset higher. About 150,000 homeowners have been able to refinance under FHASecure and the program is projected to reach an additional 400,000 by year's end. Under the new expanded rules proposed, a borrower would be eligible for a refinanced FHA loan even if they were delinquent in making several mortgage payments. With home prices on the decline now in many areas of the country, concessions would be required by both lenders and investors of mortgage-backed securities, because without a reduction in the principal balance owed on the mortgage, a borrower would be left in the position of having to come up with 3% equity in order to refinance. Naturally for an already financially stressed and cash strapped borrower this is not feasible and refinancing is not possible with out agreement by all parties on a reduction of the principal balance. It appears to be the judgment of the Bush Administration that it is the lender and the investor who should bear the responsibility for doing this rather than asking the U.S. taxpayer to assume the burden. Excellent source to find your lowest mortgage rates.

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