The White House is considering a housing proposal that would allow millions of homeowners with government-backed mortgages to refinance into lower interest rates, The New York Times reports.
“A wave of refinancing could be a strong stimulus to the economy, because it would lower consumers’ mortgage bills right away and allow them to spend elsewhere,” an article in The New York Times notes.
Many homeowners have been unable to take advantage of today’s low interest rates — which are averaging around 4 percent — because they don’t qualify for refinancing at the best rates since they owe more on their home than it is currently worth or because of poor credit. The refinancing plan is still under discussion of how it would work, The New York Times said.
“This is the best stimulus out there because it doesn’t increase the deficit, it accomplishes monetary policy, and it reduces defaults in housing,” Christopher J. Mayer, an economist at the Columbia Business School, told The New York Times.
The White House is also considering other options to try to stimulate the housing market or save homeowners from foreclosure. Such options include more changes to its refinancing programs so more homeowners can participate or a home rental program to that would rent out foreclosures instead of putting them for sale so foreclosures would stop weighing down overall home prices.
“This is just want this economy needs! I was just saying I would love to refinance my home but after talking to Wells Fargo I was told they couldn’t refinance my home because my loan to value wasn’t within tolerance. I was looking to refinance to a 15 year mortgage to take advantage of the low rates. I do hope this gets through the White House. I could see this as a huge plus for most Americans, putting $150-$200 a month or more in their pockets.”
WASHINGTON – Aug. 9, 2010 – In an effort to help responsible homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their property, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided new details about a refinance program it announced earlier this year that helps responsible homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their property.
Starting Sept. 7, 2010, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will offer certain “underwater” non-FHA borrowers a new FHA-insured mortgage. To qualify, an owner must be current on his existing mortgage, and his lender must agree to write off at least 10 percent of the unpaid principal on the first mortgage.
“We’re throwing a lifeline out to those families … experiencing financial hardships because property values in their community have declined,” says FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. “This is another tool to help overcome the negative equity problem facing many responsible homeowners who are looking to refinance into a safer, more secure mortgage product.”
Other details: A homeowner’s existing loan cannot be FHA insured, and the refinanced FHA-insured first mortgage must have a loan-to-value ratio no more than 97.75 percent. The owner must qualify for a new loan under standard FHA underwriting requirements and have a credit score equal of 500 or higher. The property must be the homeowner’s primary residence, and the new debt must bring the borrower’s combined loan-to-value ratio to no greater than 115 percent.
Interested homeowners should contact their lenders to find out if they’re eligible, and to determine whether the lender will write down a portion of the unpaid principal. If a homeowner qualifies, the U.S. Department of Treasury will provide incentives to existing second lien holders who agree to full or partial extinguishment of the liens. To be eligible, servicers must execute a Servicer Participation Agreement (SPA) with Fannie Mae, in its capacity as financial agent for the United States, on or before Oct. 3, 2010.
The FHA provided complete details in a six-page mortgagee letter that can be downloaded in PDF format. To read the letter, go to: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/letters/mortgagee/files/10-23ml.pdf