Posted by: Nathan Gruwell | January 24, 2013

Mortgage Debt Forgiveness extended

Late last night, Congress reached a settlement in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. As a result, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act has been extended for another year. The measure will continue to exempt from taxation mortgage debt that is forgiven when homeowners and their mortgage lenders negotiate a short sale, loan modification (including any principal reduction) or foreclosure.

Capital gains rates on the sale of principal residences will remain unchanged and continues to exclude the first $250,000 for single taxpayers and $500,000 for married couples.

Posted by: Nathan Gruwell | November 10, 2012

Short Sale? The time is NOW!

Greg Annis just got approval to short-sell his Pleasanton condo, seven months after he applied. He was concerned about the year-end expiring of the "forgiven debt" tax exemption. Photo: Michael Short, Special To The Chronicle / SF

Greg Annis bought his downtown Pleasanton condo for $390,000 in 2007. Today, its value has fallen to about $200,000, while his income was cut 20 percent when his company instituted a weekly furlough day this year.

“It just doesn’t make financial sense to keep the condo,” he said.

Like many homeowners in similar situations, Annis tried to work with his lender and eventually decided to do a short sale – selling the condo for less than the $270,000 he still owes on it.

Annis felt an extra impetus to make it happen: A law that exempts “forgiven debt” from taxes is expiring at the end of this year.

“I heard through the grapevine about this law expiring,” he said. “I want to go ahead and do the short sale as soon as possible to make sure it happens in 2012 to take advantage of the law, in case it does not get extended.”

Before the housing downturn hit, “forgiven debt” on home mortgages could be taxed as income. For instance, if your lender lopped $50,000 off what you owed (a type of loan modification called principal reduction), if you short-sold the property for $50,000 less than your mortgage or if your lender foreclosed on a property worth $50,000 less than you owed, the $50,000 would be treated as income, adding up to a potential big bill for state and federal taxes.

But with millions of struggling homeowners in such situations, both the Congress and the California Legislature passed bills to exempt forgiven home debt from taxes.

But now the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 is due to expire on Dec. 31. The election-year Congress, already famously fractious, is not expected to act on it in 2012, although industry experts hope it could get extended next year.

“When the law expires at the end of this year, a lot of people could get hurt,” said Eva Rosenberg, an enrolled agent who runs TaxMama.com in Northridge.

Not everyone eligible

Even if the act eventually gets renewed, it doesn’t cover all homeowners.

“It applies only to the mortgage you originally got to acquire the home or to a refi used to improve the home,” said Stephen Moskowitz, a tax attorney in San Francisco.

Homeowners who did cash-out refinances and used the money for any other purpose than fixing up their house could still be on the hook for forgiven debt. The legions of people who refinanced during the boom days, using their homes as piggy banks, are not covered by the act, for instance.

For people in that situation – and for everyone if the act does not get renewed – one way to still avoid taxation is the insolvency exception, Moskowitz and Rosenberg said.

“Insolvency means your debts exceeded your assets the day before and the day after the foreclosure” or short sale or principal reduction, Moskowitz said.

“For example, assume that the day before the foreclosure (or other debt forgiveness), your home’s fair market value was $1 million, your mortgage was $2 million and your other debts, such as credit cards, were $8 million. Now we remove the asset and the liability of the house – and your debts still exceed your assets, so you are insolvent.”

Bankruptcy is also an option to dissolve the tax obligation, he said.

People with second homes used as vacation property who undergo foreclosure, short sale or principal reduction also are on the hook for forgiven debt with or without the law, Rosenberg said. Those with second homes rented out as investments should be able to offset the debt cancellation with their loss on the investment.

Extension possibilities

If Congress does extend the law for federal income taxes, California is poised to follow suit for state taxes, said Alex Creel, senior vice president of governmental affairs at the California Association of Realtors.

“Clearly nothing will happen on the extension this year,” he said. Even if Congress waits until well into 2013 or even 2014 to extend the bill, it could easily make the bill retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013, so no one would be left out in the cold.

“Admittedly that would put people in an awkward spot if they’re trying to do transactions in 2013 and Congress hasn’t acted,” he said. “They would be out there wondering if the extender would go through.”

There is another twist on the tax issue for California homeowners. Original purchase loans in California are “nonrecourse,” meaning the lender can’t pursue the mortgage holder for unpaid balances. Some refinances for the same amount as well as cash-out refinances where the money is used for home renovations, are also nonrecourse.

Debt forgiven on nonrecourse loans is already exempt from taxation.

As it turned out, Annis, the Pleasanton man doing a short sale, still has his original mortgage loan, so he would be off the hook for tax purposes with or without the debt relief act.

His bank finally approved the short sale late last week, seven months after he first applied.

“It’s a long process,” he said.

Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: csaid@sfchronicle.com

Posted by: Nathan Gruwell | April 25, 2011

Low Prices, Low Rates = Time to Buy!

 

By JONATHAN LANSNER
2011-04-15 13:23:20
Century 21 Award, with home brokerage offices throughout Southern California, was recently named the top seller in the franchise chain’s U.S. network. We checked in with Century 21 Award CEO David Romero to get his sense of the market …

Us: How is the spring selling season starting off at your Orange County offices?

David: The spring season is gaining momentum after a very slow start to the year. The good news is March sales in 2011 mirrored the same period last year without the benefit of a federal stimulus package. As buyers gain confidence in the economy I believe more and more of them will want to take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates coupled with low prices.

Us: Take out your crystal ball; how do you think Orange County home prices and sales volumes will do in 2011 and 2012?

David: Orange County is currently enjoying more activity than we have seen in years. Our housing inventory is at a relatively healthy low. We have achieved stability, but it’s not time to celebrate yet. The real estate market will continue to improve as the job market improves, but it will be a slow process. I expect a choppy, but moderately improving market over the next few years.

Us: How are distressed properties faring?

David: Distressed properties still make up a large part of our market, and will for approximately 3 to 4 years. Buyers are definitely drawn to these properties due to pricing. However, dealing with banks and short sales can be a frustrating experience. Some banks have streamlined the short sale process; however, each situation poses a different set of problems.

Us: What are you telling your property owners who are selling about what it takes to move a home?

David: It’s very clear that buyers want to make sure they make an informed decision. They want to purchase property at the right price and they want a home in good condition. Simply put, they want the best possible deal based on price and value.

Us: What are you telling your house shoppers about the market? What about their ability to get a mortgage?

David: Obtaining a mortgage is a challenge to a more rapid recovery in the housing market. However, there is mortgage money available. Anyone with a credit score of 650 and above, a job with verifiable income and healthy down payment can take advantage of this once in a generation home buying opportunity. I would encourage anyone considering a purchase to be pre-approved with a reputable lender prior to any serious house hunting.

Posted by: Nathan Gruwell | March 30, 2011

Data shows market for short sales

California’s pending home sales increased during February, and “distressed” homes represented a majority of those deals, the California Association of Realtors reported Monday.

Realtors’ statistics show bank-owned properties and short sales – referred to as “distressed” homes – represented 56 percent of homes sold last month. The proportion was much higher in San Bernardino County, where distressed properties accounted for 76 percent of February’s home sales.

California Association of Realtors analysts anticipate distressed sales will continue to represent the majority of home sales until 2012 at the earliest.

Taken from article in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin by Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
for the rest of this interesting article click here http://www.dailybulletin.com/ci_17668141?source=most_viewed

Posted by: Nathan Gruwell | October 20, 2010

Mortgages: Stricter rules

Mortgage lenders want to make loans now, and they may even bid against one another for your business. But lending standards remain tight, and you must be prepared to produce a mound of paperwork to document your income and assets.

Rates are as low as they were in the 1950s, so going through the motions could pay off. In mid September, the average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate conforming loan — a mortgage of $417,000 or less — was 4.5%, according to HSH Associates, a mortgage-tracking firm. The initial rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage (a fixed rate for five years, followed by annual adjustments) was 3.6%.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration continue to dominate the mortgage market, setting the standards for the loans that lenders make and sell to investors. So lenders strive to dot every i and cross every t when they qualify you.

If you’re buying or refinancing the mortgage on your primary home, you’ll need a minimum down payment of 5% to 10% for a conforming loan or 10% to 15% for a conforming jumbo loan (125% of a metro area’s median home price, up to $729,750). With 20% or more down, you avoid private mortgage insurance, which typically costs 0.5% to 1.5% of your loan amount per year.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow a minimum credit score of 620 if you have at least 25% equity in the property or a score of 660 with equity of less than 25%; you’ll get the best rate if your score exceeds 720. The FHA will soon require a minimum credit score of 580 to qualify with a down payment of 3.5%, but FHA lenders often impose a higher minimum score of 670.

In addition to your credit, lenders will also scrutinize your ability to pay, starting with your ratio of debt to income. Monthly housing expenses (principal, interest, taxes, hazard insurance, private mortgage insurance and association fees) shouldn’t account for more than 28% of gross monthly income. Total debt shouldn’t exceed 36% of gross income, but in some cases lenders stretch the maximum to 45%.

Chris Bennett, a loan officer with HomeServices Lending, in Charlotte, N.C., says that he surprises borrowers “all the time” with preapproval of their loan when they aren’t expecting it. Even people with lower credit scores may qualify if they have stable employment, a history of paying rent and credit lines on time, and money in the bank or in a retirement account.

However, Bennett also counsels some borrowers to delay their home purchase long enough to improve their credit score, eliminate debt, get a raise and save more money. They might earn a better interest rate, improving their buying power. Plus, he says, “it’s not good to lay out every bit of cash you have if you won’t have money for a rainy day.”

Prove it. At a minimum, you must supply your pay stubs for the past 30 days and W-2 forms for the past two years. Lenders will want to see bank, retirement-account and investment statements for the past 60 days. Bennett says three types of borrowers will face additional requirements:

If you’re self-employed or if 25% or more of your income is from commissions or bonuses, you must provide two years of tax returns. Lenders will average your income over the past two years to figure your debt-to-income ratio. If you have pursued opportunities to reduce your taxable income, you may not have sufficient income to qualify even though you may have a lot of money in the bank. Community banks, credit unions and other lenders that typically keep their loans on their own books are the best bet for borrowers with low incomes and high assets, says Bennett.

If you want to rent out your home and buy a new one, you must provide a signed lease for a minimum of 12 months. You can use only 75% of rental income to help qualify for the mortgage, and you must have at least 30% equity in your former home.

If you and your spouse are relocating for work and your spouse doesn’t have a job yet, you must qualify for the loan based on one income unless your spouse has a signed agreement with an employer to begin work within 45 days of closing the loan.

Even if you qualify, you can throw a monkey wrench into the final loan approval if you take on new debt that could affect your credit score or your debt-to-income ratio. Some lenders pull another credit report just before closing. Another possible sticking point is the appraisal. Overly generous appraisals helped to fuel the housing bubble. Now, miserly ones may thwart your closing, says Guy Cecala, publisher of the newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance. Lenders will estimate the value of your home conservatively, and appraisers are generally following suit, especially if the local market is in flux. (For techniques to fight low appraisals, see How to Get a Fair Appraisal.)

Home equity: Lower limits
Several years ago, home values were rising so rapidly that you could build a pile of equity practically before the ink was dry on your settlement papers — and then borrow against it to pay for everything from home repairs to college tuition. But as prices have tumbled, lenders have tightened their criteria for approving fixed-rate home-equity loans and variable-rate lines of credit.

Now in most cities you’ll be able to borrow no more than 80% of the appraised value, less the mortgage. In some cities you may get away with 90%, says Keith Gumbinger, of HSH Associates. But in areas where prices have plummeted, such as parts of Florida, Nevada and California, the loan-to-value ratio goes as low as 60%.

You’ll need a credit score of at least 720, as opposed to the 650 to 680 you could get away with a few years ago. And as with first mortgages, you’ll have to document income and assets. Interest rates depend on the amount you borrow and your location. Recent rates averaged about 5.3% on home-equity lines of credit and 7.4% on loans, according to HSH.

Car loans: Better rates
When you need to borrow money to buy a new set of wheels, credit isn’t the major stumbling block anymore. Loan approvals are up from last year in every credit category, according to CNW Research. “Most people have good enough credit to qualify,” says Greg McBride, of Bankrate.com. “The down payment is what’s problematic for people without a lot of savings.” Lenders are looking for 10% down on a new car and 20% for used cars.

The average rate from the manufacturers’ finance companies was 4.5% in August, versus 6.9% in January 2009. Automakers and their finance companies, desperate to prop up sales, are aggressively promoting low-rate loans on new cars for top-tier borrowers. Expect to see 0% offers on 2010 models as dealers clear their lots for the 2011s. And even though the new model year is still fresh, rates as low as 1.9% and 2.9% for 60 months recently made up a sizable number of offers.

Low rates aren’t limited to new-car buyers. After welcoming their first child, Andrea Hewitt and her husband, Josh, decided “it was time to grow up.” They traded in the 2004 Honda Accord coupe Andrea had bought when she was single for a more family-friendly 2008 Nissan Altima sedan. The dealer offered a loan at 5% for five years, which the Hewitts bargained down to 4.29%. If they had purchased the extended warranty, the dealer would have knocked the rate down to 0.9%. The trade-in took care of a chunk of the loan balance, and the Hewitts put down another $1,500 to keep their payments low. While the best financing deal is often at the dealer, make sure you have a backup plan in case you don’t qualify for the lowest rates. At big banks, good credit will get you rates below 4% for five years on new cars and about 4% to 5% for used cars. Some credit unions are beating even those rates. If you don’t belong to a credit union, you can probably find one for which you’re eligible at http://www.creditunion.coop.

Credit cards: High scores
Despite fewer credit-card delinquencies, most large issuers have not relaxed their standards; they continue to require higher credit scores and offer lower credit limits than before the recession. If you have fair or poor credit, you’ll have a tough time qualifying. Even if you have a credit score of 740 or 750, you would be approved for a credit card but might not qualify for the lowest rate, says Bill Hardekopf, of LowCards.com.

If you have excellent credit, whether or not you qualify for the lowest rate, your mailbox has probably been peppered with credit-card solicitations. Mintel, a market-research firm, expects issuers to send out three to four billion offers this year, compared with two billion a year ago, most of which will be for rewards cards. A lot of rewards cards have attractive perks, but now you’re more likely to be charged an annual fee (often waived for the first year). Teaser rates as low as 0% are also making a comeback, although balance-transfer fees at many banks have risen to 5%.

To qualify for the best offers, pay on time, even if it’s just the minimum. You could receive a reminder — and a spike in your interest rate — if your payment arrives even one day after the due date. If your card issuer lowers your credit limit, you may receive a separate notice or see it announced in your monthly statement. Many issuers no longer charge over-limit fees, but with others, exceeding your limit can cost up to $29 in fees and will probably mean an increase in your interest rate.

Hold your balances below 30% of your total credit limit. If your charges creep above that ratio, it’s a red flag that lowers your credit score and could prompt the issuer to raise your rate (you must receive 45 days’ notice). It’s better not to close accounts because you increase the ratio of your outstanding balance to your available credit, which can hurt your credit score. Issuers can no longer charge inactivity fees, but if you are being charged an annual fee for a card you no longer use, it’s worth it to close the account and take a small hit on your credit score.

Read more: http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/what-it-takes-to-get-a-loan.html#ixzz12vyRhQli
Become a Fan of Kiplinger’s on Facebook

Posted by: Nathan Gruwell | October 9, 2009

LOAN MODIFICATIONS!

We are seeing some more banks being willing to do loan modifications.

A new report from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision shows that the portion of loan modifications in the second quarter that involved reducing the principal increased to 10 percent from 3.1 percent in the first quarter.

 

While strategies such as lowering interest rates or extending mortgage terms can temporarily help borrowers struggling to make payments, reports show that often times borrowers redefault because the modifications do not lower payments to a truly affordable level.  Of loans modified in the first quarter of 2009, 28 percent were in default again within three months, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.  Among those modified in last year’s second quarter, 56 percent were in default again a year later.

 

Banks are beginning to reduce mortgage principal due, in part, to prodding from the Obama administration, whose housing plan includes financial incentives for mortgage-servicing firms that modify loans.  At the same time, banks now have more flexibility to modify loans because of their success in stabilizing their balance sheets and, in some cases, raising fresh capital.

Contact Nathan Gruwell to see how he may be able to help you.   nategruwell@yahoo.com

Posted by: Nathan Gruwell | September 25, 2009

SHORT SALES

As more homeowners find themselves underwater — owing more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth — and unable to make the monthly mortgage payments, many are turning to short sales, which allow a homeowner to sell their home for less than owed on the mortgage.  Short sales can be a win-win situation for all parties, because they enable home buyers to purchase properties in desirable neighborhoods and at favorable prices.

 

MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY FOR CONSUMERS

 

·      Theoretically, short sales should be a win-win for the bank and the homeowner.  Although the bank does not receive the full amount owed on the mortgage, it also does not incur the costs of foreclosure and/or eviction, if necessary.  Many homeowners also prefer short sales because it is less damaging to their credit scores than a foreclosure.  However, many real estate experts say that the majority of banks are reluctant to approve short sales, and often let properties go into foreclosure, even when there are reasonable offers on the property.  In addition to considering the price, most lenders also take into consideration whether the homeowner can demonstrate financial hardship.  If the homeowner is capable of making payments, many lenders will try to work out a loan modification, rather than a short sale.

 

·      Unlike foreclosed properties, which may be run-down and vacant for many months, short-sale properties are likely to be better maintained, as most owners may still live in the home.

 

·       Short sales often are more time intensive than traditional transactions and often require additional paperwork.  Due to the large number of offers on short sales, many take as long as a few months to receive approval.  This many times will allow the home owner to remain in the property free, not making the mortgage payment. The cash strapped home owner can then pocket that savings and since Nathan Gruwell does not charge the home owner any fee for processing the short sale, this is a HUGE benefit to the home owner. 

 

·      Working with a REALTOR® like Nathan Gruwell, who has experience with short sales can help both sellers and home buyers during the transaction.  As a seasoned REALTOR® he will be able to serve as the mediator between the seller and the lender, and lead to a successful transaction.

 

Contact Nathan Gruwell today to find out how he can help!  NateGruwell@yahoo.com

Posted by: Nathan Gruwell | September 24, 2009

Good News for Buyers!

The Federal Reserve this morning announced it will maintain its target for the federal funds rate in the 0 percent to 0.25 percent range, and expects economic conditions to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period of time. “Information . . .  suggests that economic activity has picked up following its severe downturn,” the Fed said in a prepared statement.

 

“Conditions in financial markets have improved further, and activity in the housing sector has increased. Household spending seems to be stabilizing, but remains constrained by ongoing job losses, sluggish income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit. With substantial resource slack likely to continue to dampen cost pressures and with longer-term inflation expectations stable, the Committee expects that inflation will remain subdued for some time.”

 

To provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve also said it will purchase a total of $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and up to $200 billion of agency debt, and will gradually slow the pace of these purchases in order to promote a smooth transition in markets.

For more info contact me at NateGruwell@yahoo.com

Posted by: Nathan Gruwell | September 17, 2009

MARKET TRENDS

happy yellow nook

The following article is from the California Association of Realtors and I thought it was worth publishing here. Prices have fallen and we are experiencing some exceptional values for our buyers. If you have been waiting to buy, wait no more. The time is now!

 

 

 

 

By: Oscar Wei, Senior Research Analyst and Sara Sutachan, Senior Research Analyst

California home sales continue to stay strong with seasonally adjusted annualized sales in July increasing 8.1 percent to 553,910 from 512,530 in June and 12.0 percent above the revised year-ago figure of 494,390. The year-to-year percentage gains in sales have moderated in recent months, and the 12 percent increase over the prior year was the smallest increase since April 2008. Year-to-date sales, nevertheless, remained well above the sales level of last year, with a 43.4 percent increase over the same period of 2008.

The statewide median price at $285,480 in July increased for the fifth consecutive month with a 3.9 percent increase over the prior month median price of $274,740. The yearly decline of 19.6 percent was also the smallest in the last 19 months.

The recent increase in the median price is attributed in part to the change in the mix of sales since the beginning of this year. Since reaching a peak of 85 percent in January 2009, the market share of homes sold under the price range of $500,000 (the low-end market) has been gradually declining and was down to 74 percent in July. Meanwhile, the market share of homes sold between $500,000 and $1 million (the middle tier) surged from 12 percent in January 2009 to 20 percent in July, and homes sold above $1 million (the high-end market) improved from 3 percent to 6 percent for the same period.

The shift in the market share was due primarily to the slow down in the sales for lower-priced homes, and a gain in the sales of higher-priced homes throughout the first half of the year. In January, the low-end tier registered a year-to-year increase of 177.7 percent in home sales, but had since come down to a smaller gain of 23.0 percent in July. In the same time frame, the middle tier went from an annual decrease of 11.8 percent to an annual gain of 1.1 percent, while the high-end tier improved from an annual decline of 47.2 percent to a year-over-year drop of 4.2 percent.

The gain in sales has softened at the low-end market because of low inventories. Statewide, inventory has shown a steady decline since the start of the year, with the unsold inventory index dropping from 6.6 months in January 2009 to 3.9 months in July 2009. Inventory levels, however, differ between price tiers and are tighter at the low-end market. The unsold inventory index for the low-end market has been around 3 to 4 months since the beginning of the year, and was 3.2 months for July 2009, as compared to 6.9 months for the same month last year. The middle tier had an inventory level of around 9 months early this year, but had dropped to 4.3 months in July, and was lower than 6.6 months a year ago. The inventory level of the high-end segment has declined since the start of this year, but continued to experience elevated inventories. The unsold inventory index for high-end homes was at 9.6 months in July 2009, slightly below 9.8 months for the same month last year.

With inventory levels well below the long-run average, a supply shortage at the low to middle-tiers may have constrained sales in lower-priced homes and led to an increase in the median price. The supply of homes is expected to increase later this year as the number of foreclosures continues to rise from last year. However, the government and lenders’ efforts in modifying loans, combined with delays in processing the backlog of delinquencies may ease the number of defaulted loans, thus making a prediction on the number and timing of the flow of distressed properties less certain.

Much of the current market activity is being financed by the government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), such that making permanent the current loan limits for high cost areas in California will be essential to the absorption of these impending foreclosures and to a recovering housing market.

Posted by: Nathan Gruwell | August 12, 2009

LOAN MODIFICATIONS? I CAN HELP!

Great news for those of you thinking about reducing your monthly payment. Call or email me for more details. Read on….

The Obama administration plans to announce Thursday new guidelines designed to help struggling homeowners with Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages.

The guidelines implement changes enacted by Congress in May to bring the FHA’s loan-modification program more in line with the White House’s foreclosure-prevention plan. The Obama plan, announced in February, provides financial incentives for mortgage companies to reduce loan payments to affordable levels.

The FHA doesn’t have an estimate of how many borrowers are likely to be helped by the new program, said a spokeswoman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is announcing the guidelines. Some 14.2% of FHA loans are at least 30-days past due and not yet in foreclosure, according to LPS Applied Analytics.

FHA Commissioner David Stevens said the changes “offer borrowers an opportunity to stay in their homes, make payments that are manageable and defer [payment of] the money owed to a later time when, hopefully, home values have improved.”

Like the broader Obama program, the FHA plan seeks to reduce mortgage-related payments to 31% of monthly income. But it gets there in a different way, by focusing on changes in the principal amount rather than the interest rate.

Under the FHA plan, mortgage servicers can reduce the amount of principal on which the borrower must make loan payments by as much as 30% to get monthly payments to affordable levels. The borrower makes the reduced payments for the life of the loan, but is responsible for paying off the full loan amount when the home is sold or the loan is refinanced. This approach is designed to fit guidelines set by Congress, FHA officials said.

The need to bolster the FHA program was one of the many issues discussed at Tuesday’s meeting between Obama administration officials and executives from 25 mortgage companies who were summoned to Washington this week to discuss efforts to improve and speed up implementation of the administration’s housing rescue plan.

Under the new guidelines, FHA borrowers can receive a loan modification after they have missed one loan payment, rather than waiting until they are at least three payments late, as in the past. This is different from the Obama program, which allows borrowers who are at risk of default to get help, even if they are current on their loan. The FHA can’t offer similar help to at-risk borrowers, officials said, because it would run afoul of contracts with investors who buy GNMA securities, bonds made up of FHA and other government-backed loans.

Mortgage servicers will receive incentive fees of as much as $1,250 for each successful modification. FHA officials said they expect the approach to save the government money by reducing foreclosure-related losses on loans the government insures.Y

Taken from WSJ. For complete article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124891434984092191.html

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