Citibank and Fannie Mae announced that they will suspend foreclosures and evictions for thirty days, which would give thousands of borrowers a brief holiday respite from the legal process meant to take their homes away. At the same time, CitiMortage has converted only 271 out of the 103,478 trial mortgage modifications into final modifications. When faced with their dismal performance in finalizing mortgage modifications, the banks uniformly blamed borrowers who completed the trial period but did not send in paperwork necessary to finalize their modifications. One wonders if these banks could have avoided some foreclosures by finalizing more mortgage modifications.
People always ask me: Is there any way to lower the principal on my mortgage? The answer is yes and no. Confused? That’s ok – you are just one of millions of homeowners who aren’t clear on what their rights are as homeowners. While the best way to deal with falling behind on your monthly mortgage payments is to modify your mortgage loan, there are other ways to save on your monthly payments.
During the course of the recent housing bubble, lending institutions bundled thousands of consumer mortgages into complicated securities that were sold many times. The transfer records of each mortgage in the bundled securities became increasingly byzantine. When the mortgage market fell apart in the current recession, some of the investors left holding the mortgage-backed securities discovered that there were unable to prove that they owned the right to collect on the mortgages.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which regulates the national banks, issued a report on Wednesday regarding residential mortgages. Many mortgages that were modified in the first half of last year defaulted within a year. This has led banks and lenders to realize that borrowers need to be given a bigger break in order for a mortgage modification to work. Banks are also more capable of giving the needed breaks because they now have more money on their balance sheets than last year. Most importantly, Obama’s Making Homes Affordable program provided further incentives for banks to modify mortgages. The change in policy has been reflected in the results. There has been a 75% increase in agreements meant to help borrowers, including modifications, from last year. Also, the percentage of modifications that involve a reduction in principal tripled from 3.1% to 10%. Banks are not required to lower principal, but have been doing so anyway to try and forestall costly foreclosures.
A borrower who is struggling with their residential mortgage should strongly consider a mortgage modification. The eligibility criteria are relatively simple. The terms of the government’s mortgage modification program are also straightforward.
The federal government has worked with banks and other lenders on a mortgage modification program that will reduce the monthly mortgage payment for qualifying homeowners. The Obama Administration enacted the Making Homes Affordable program out of recognition that the current recession has had grave effects on the ability of many hardworking Americans to stay in their homes. The mortgage modification program strives to protect homeowners who have been making a good faith attempt to pay their bills, but need help to stay out of foreclosure. This article will discuss the eligibility for the mortgage modification program under the Making Homes Affordable program. [Read more…]