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  • The Obama administration has introduced a new program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. If you are struggling to pay your mortgage and worry you may lose your home, read on. Foreclosure can be avoided using the PRA or Principal Reduction Alternative which was designed (by MHA – Making home affordable) to motivate mortgage services and investors to reduce the amount owed on a home, especially when the value of the property shrinks to the point where the home is worth less than the money owing.

    You are advised to get in touch with your mortgage company at the earliest opportunity to find out whether or not you are eligible for the PRA program.

    Those eligible include:

    1) mortgages not owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac,

    2)  those who owe more than the actual value of the property,

    3) primary residence homes mortgaged on or before January 1st 2009.

    You may also be eligible if:

    1) your mortgage payment exceeds 31% of their monthly income (pre-tax);

    2) you owe as much as $729,750 on your first mortgage.

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    Anyone accepted for the program must have enough documented income to cover the newly adjusted payment and must have no convictions for the last 10 years for larceny, theft, fraud or forgery, money laundering or tax evasion connected with a transaction for a mortgage or real estate. This list should give you a good idea of whether of not you are eligible so contact your mortgage server to make sure.

    The MHA – Making Home Affordable has a program called HAMP –The Home affordable Modification Program. A large number of companies have agreed to participate in the program. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae own loans in many mortgage companies which are required to participate too. The way to find out if your loan is held by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae is to visit the Loan Look Up. The Homeowner´s HOPE tm hotline at 1-888-995-hope (4673) could help if you have further enquiries about the program.

    Ask for “MHA Help” if you need assistance with your mortgage company or if you think that you are eligible even though you were in fact told that you are not eligible. There are over 100 servers who participate in the HAMP program and who are able to determine whether homeowners qualify for principal reduction. They have written standards of how to apply PRA.

    It is always best to speak to a housing expert in order to fully understand your options. They are qualified to arrange a plan that fits your personal circumstances and they are available in more than 160 languages at 888-995-HOPE (4673). HUD (Housing and Urban Development) approved counselors do not charge you for their advice. They will help you with your budget and indicate what documentation you will need to give to the mortgage company as well as having helpful information about local resources.

    When it comes to mortgage problems, the sooner you take action the better, especially when those problems are related with making your monthly payments.

    If you are struggling to make your mortgage payments, your mortgage lender should be called first and put in the picture as to your financial situation. If you need more help there is a list of resources on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development´s (HUD) website. Or you could call (800) 569 4287.

    Make sure you are fully aware of your real situation by checking over the mortgage loan documents and be prepared to give clear information as to your expenses. However, before you call it is a good idea that you understand what options you are likely to have. These options are separated into three main groups: temporary solutions, long-term solutions and last-ditch options.

    Temporary Solutions

    – Reinstatement


    – Repayment plan

    Temporary solutions include a reinstatement plan whereby a date is set for repayment of back payments. Forbearance may be offered if you have had a reduction in income or an increase in expenses. This involves a temporary -3 or 4 month reduction or suspension of mortgage payments followed by a new loan repayment plan. A repayment plan means that you may be able to pay back money owing over a period of time by adding a certain amount to regular monthly payments.

    Long-Term Solutions

    – Loan Modifications

    – Partial Claim

    The main long-term mortgage solution is a loan modification. This requires the lender to adjust the terms of the loan to fit your new situation so that you can afford to pay your monthly payments. This could mean having to pay a loan modification fee. Another long term solution might be partial claim whereby you speak to your private mortgage insurance firm who might agree to provide a one time interest free loan so as to bring your account up to date. The repayment of the loan is due when you sell the property or pay off your mortgage.

    Last-Ditch Options

    – Short Sale

    – Assumption

    – Deed in Lieu

    If you cannot make use of the previously mentioned alternatives you may have to face the fact that you cannot keep your home and at this point you might need to sell the property. Your lender will most likely give you a certain amount of time to pay off the amount owing on your mortgage and they may expect you to use a real estate professional to sell your property.

    If selling the property is only possible for an amount inferior to the full amount of the loan, your lender might agree to what is called a pre-foreclosure sale or short sale. Notice, you may still owe income tax on the difference between the amount you owe and the amount you actually pay.

    There is another possibility available at this point called assumption where a qualified buyer might be permitted to take over the mortgage. Check with your lender if you would like to use this option.

    Finally there is Deed in lieu of foreclosure by means of which the one unable to pay back the mortgage can give the property back to the lender who then does not require the balance of the loan to be paid. Tax may be payable but this option is better than foreclosure when it comes to your credit rating. This last option might not be applicable until you have tried to sell the property at fair market value for at least 90 days.

    Connecticut Government Mortgage Help

    If the economy has hit your family hard as it has many others in recent years, you have undoubtedly run behind on bills that in the past were a non issue. Juggling cramped funds can be at the least a headache, but more seriously can turn into a life altering problem when you are unable to keep up with the mortgage on your home.
    In order to help Connecticut families along the way to financial recovery without losing the important stability of their homes, there are several programs offering some relief from the burden of a mortgage that is heading toward foreclosure. The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) 860-571-3500 is offering the CT Families Program which offers you the option to refinance with a 30 year fixed loan. You may still qualify in many cases even when your mortgage has become higher than the worth of your home. Your burden may further be relieved by help with closing costs on the second mortgage.
    A valuable option available to those who do not qualify for the CT Families program, is the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMAP) 860-721-9501. If you have been unsuccessful in resolving your delinquency through personal contact with your mortgage holder or mortgage counselor, and you cannot find a way to financially restore your loan, you may qualify for this state provided assistance. You will be under a new, 30 year fixed rate loan. This provision is made for those undergoing credible financial hardship, who have taken the reasonable steps already listed to resolve the situation. Under Connecticut law, financial institutions are required to advise you of this resource when you are facing foreclosure.
    The third step to take, if you do not qualify for the above options, would be through the Homeowner’s Equity Recovery Opportunity (HERO) Program. Under this provision, The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority would have to determine that you do not qualify for CT Families or EMAP help. They then are able to negotiate with your mortgage holder to purchase the loan for the State of Connecticut. Once the mortgage is in the State’s hands, they can create reasonable terms for repayment by you, the homeowner.
    You may not have reached a state of emergency yet, but are struggling and unsure of the future. In this case, look into the The Mortgage Relief Program. This is a bank supported opportunity for homeowners who are dealing with high rate or non traditional loans. Various New England banks are participating. They can be a valuable resource, with information about both state and federal assistance programs, including Federal Housing Authority Loans and the MHA or “Obama Plan”. Citizens Bank, Sovereign Bank, TD Banknorth, Webster Bank, and Bank of America are participators.

    South Dakota Mortgage Help

    South Dakota Mortgage Help

    The loan assistance which the South Dakota Housing Development Authority provides is known as LAP which is The Loan Assistance Program. The idea is that down payment and closing costs when buying a home can be prohibitive. For this reason they are taken care of by the program as long as the first mortgage for the property is financed through a lender who is participating with the South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA). Because the LAP loan has a very low interest rate (5.0%) and the monthly payments are reasonable, it makes owning your home a real possibility. The maximum loan available is $5,000 over a period of five years. SDHDA provide the assistance loan on condition that your take Homebuyer Education classes with an approved center to ensure that you really understand all the steps you are required to take when buying property. The actual monthly payments you make for your LAP loan will be included in your regular mortgage repayments each month. In effect the LAP loan is a second mortgage as is EMAP which is the Employer Mortgage Assistance Program. However with EMAP the amount you may borrow is a minimum of $600 up to the maximum of $6,000 over a period of 5 years and the interest rate is 2% only. To apply for this type of loan you will need to contact a participating lender and have an eligibility certificate which you can get from your employer, who must be a participating employer. As is the case with the LAP loan the EMAP loan is repaid together with the first mortgage loan and you can have it paid automatically from your bank account to the lender each month if you wish. If you obtain an EMAP loan with the cooperation of your employer but before the end of the 5 years period you change employment and therefore no longer work for the same boss your interest rate will be changed from the 2% to the prime rate plus 5%. This arrangement is provided for in the “Addendum to the Promissory Note” which you sign when you close the loan. Your participating lender might have other important details which you will need to take into consideration when you take out the loan. With the Down payment Assistance Loan there is not a prepayment penalty to worry about. If you sell your home you are required to settle the amount of the Down Payment Assistance Loan. SDHDA will inform the person who closes the sale of the amount to be paid so that the loan can be paid off. In this way SDHDA is able to assist many people to purchase their own home. The Homebuyer Education classes are very important in helping you to know what to expect and how to go about your property purchase in the best way. Please take advantage of these provisions.

    There are different products from which to choose according to your circumstances. In particular we mention 1st Gold which is suitable for the majority of buyers. Then there is OHFA (Oklahoma Homeownership Financial Assistance)Shield especially designed for police officers and fire fighters. Those who work in the field of education may find that OHFA 4 Teachers would be a good alternative. These are the OHFA advantage products which include low interest, 30 year loans and 3.5% down payment assistance for homebuyers in the state. If you meet the requirements for OHFA advantage and you would like to take advantage of the offer you should apply for a loan from a participating lender(list on the website). These lenders accept all those who have the minimum income and a good credit rating as long as the price of purchase is within the limits – that is not over $189,607. If you call the Homebuyer Hotline we can give you more information. The number to call is 1-888-937-1122.

    In Oklahoma it is feasible for those who are at present receiving housing assistance, and are using the payments to pay rent to change to mortgage payment and thereby purchase their own property. This is the Homeownership Program called the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program. This program is available to you if you want to own your first home and you participate in both, The Family self Sufficiency Program (FSS) at the time as well as the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. The FSS is a program that helps you to grow financially. You make a contract to progressively reach certain objectives helped along by OHFA and FSS workers. You learn how to use an Escrow Saving Account among other things.

    To be accepted for the program the main wage earner of the household must have an annual income of at least $14,500 and must have had a job for one year working on average 30 hours a week unless the head of the household is disabled or elderly in which case the minimum annual income is $8,088. You can choose any type of property if you qualify for the program. It could be a new home or it could be an older single family home. You might prefer a condo or a manufactured home or a town house. The property must be inside the area that OHFA operates and it must be within your price-range. Those with a disability may buy their property from a member of their family but otherwise this is not permissible. Neither is it allowed that the property be a means of earning money.

    The OHFA may inspect the house to be purchased so as to decide whether or not it qualifies for assistance. In order to arrange for a loan you may have help from OHFA staff when you decide upon a mortgage lender. OHFA will help in the whole buying process giving assistance too when it comes to down payment and closing costs. Once the home is purchased assistance will continue as long as you are entitled to section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. As soon as this terminates you are responsible to continue payments and the mortgage lender will be informed of the situation. To find out more call (800) 256-1489 ext. 171

    Forget the adverts. Forget who your broker recommended. Forget who has the nicest offices. If you are searching for a mortgage refinance company to improve the terms of your loan, you need to forget about the gimmicks and look at what really matters in a refinance lender. This article summarizes some of the most important tips on selecting the best company for your refinance mortgage.

    First Step. Forget the Annual Percentage Rate.

    Many finance advisors encourage borrowers to check the annual percentage rate, or APR, of a mortgage refinance loan when deciding which is the best deal. On the surface, this is good advice. After all, the APR claims to provide a benchmark with which to compare loans by converting the total cost of the loan as a yearly percentage. If there was a standard method to calculate the APR this would be a great method, unfortunately there are no set standards to calculate a loans APR. Some lenders include certain costs and expenses while others choose to leave them out. This is not to say the APR of a loan is a worthless measure of a loan’s cost, but you do need to check what has been included in the APR. This means you cannot judge a loan by its advertised APR until you request a breakdown of how the APR has been calculated.

    Second Step. Use the best mortgage brokers, but don’t let them use you.

    Good brokers have access to a wide variety of mortgage providers and to the lowest mortgage refinance rates. Unfortunately brokers also have a, often deserved, reputation of charging expensive fees and offering little value to customers. However, a reputable broker with good connections can help you avoid lender junk fees and give you access to wholesale mortgage rates. How can you tell the good brokers from the bad ones? There are no easy solutions. Look for brokers with a good and long standing reputation, use brokers people you trust recommend and prefer brokers who operate as brokers and not as a mortgage banker or broker bank. Why? Because broker banks and mortgage bankers are protected from key disclosure laws which allow them to sell mortgages without the need of disclosing markup or profit margins on your loan. A broker, however, is not protected from the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and must comply with the Act’s disclosure laws.

    Final Step. Ask for a complete breakdown of your mortgage rates.

    Whoever you end up choosing, make sure you request a complete breakdown of the costs, fees, and rates applicable. Don’t let the banker or broker blind you with jargon and well scripted speeches. Ask for hard facts, in writing, and compare it to the information other lenders offer. This way you will get the best mortgage refinance lender, not the one with the best salesperson.

    If you are living from paycheck to paycheck and never seem to have enough money to pay your bills, you may be a candidate for credit counseling. However, credit counselors may not be what your thinking they are. You see, there are many types of “professionals” offering you help to get back on your feet, financially speaking, and most of them will do exactly the opposite. After the real estate crisis of 2008 an army of foreclosure avoidance and debt relief “consultants” appeared out of thin air just as the business for subprime mortgage lenders ran into the ground. Needless to say, these are not type of counselors we are talking about when we mention credit counselors. The trouble is they are hard to set apart sometimes.

    The government is offering struggling borrowers who are at risk of defaulting on loans or need a hand to get their financial matters in line the opportunity of speaking to debt relief specialists who know how to help you reduce debt without resorting to more high interest loans that only offer a short term relief. These are counselors financed by government subsidies who are not in it for your money. So, how to set them apart. Here are some things to look out for.

    Choose credit counseling companies that help you organize your finances by creating a budget and offer you free credit workshops and educational material. Choose credit counselors that employ certified operators in consumer credit, debt management and budgeting. Avoid like the plague any company that requires you to provide personal information before they can help you. Call your state Attorney General, your local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau. Find out what they have to say about the credit counseling companies you are looking into. You should only consider accepting the help of government approved credit counseling companies. How do I know if they are government approved? Easy, visit the Department of Justices’s U.S. Trustee Program website and see if your potential companies appear on their list of approved credit counseling agencies.

    Strike out any company that does not pass these tests. Once you are left with an approved shortlist of credit counseling agencies ask the following questions.

    What services do you offer? Avoid companies that push a debt management plan down your throat as your only option.

    Do you offer information? Avoid agencies that charge for debt management information.

    How are your employees compensated? Avoid agencies who offer commissions to agents who sell certain debt management products.

    The California Housing Finance Agency is California’s main housing agency. It has several mortgage assistance programs designed to both help first-time buyers purchase a home and assist those that already have a home keep it. Those programs designed to protect Californian homeowners from foreclosure are under the Keep Your Home California program, which provides up to $2 billion in cash for foreclosure prevention programs. However, previous eligibility criteria was too stringent to allow many struggling homeowners qualify for assistance. The California’s Housing Finance Agency has reduced the requirements of these programs to help more struggling homeowners benefit from them.

    Unemployed Workers

    Under the new rules unemployed workers who are at risk of losing their homes can request federal mortgage assistance of up to $3,000 a month. Similarly, homeowners who are facing financial hardship can apply for up to $15,000 a family to reinstate mortgages at risk of foreclosure. Even homeowners who have no choice but to let their homes go can apply under the new rules for assistance for relocation expenses. These and many other changes have been backdates to mortgages originated after January, 1, 2009. This means that even if your application for help previously put down, you may reapply and see it approved under the new rules.

    These changes have come after the California Housing Finance Agency collected information on the existing programs and identified the areas where improvements were required. One of the main factors considered were the ongoing high-rates of unemployment in California which increased the risk of households, which had previously being regular with their mortgage payments, would lose their homes to foreclosure.

    The California Housing Finance Agency acts  as an intermediary between the Housing and Urban Development and servicers in some programs and as principal program manager in others. The servicers used by the CalHFA include the Guild Mortgage, GMAC, the California and the Department of Veteran Affairs. Funding for the programs originates from the Housing and Urban Development Department and the Dodd-Frank Act. Funds of up to $1 billion have been assigned to unemployed workers struggling to pay their mortgage and over $450 million will go to the State of California. Other states that have relaxed the eligibility criteria of their mortgage assistance programs and will receive assistance from the Dodd-Frank Act include Delaware, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

    One of these programs, is the Emergency Homeowner Loan, which is available for unemployed workers who had an income of 120 percent the median income and who had seen their income drop by at least 15 percent since they lost their job.

    It seems like the much-awaited Emergency Homeowner Loan Program may still see the light of day. It was deemed overdue when it was first conceived in the beginning of 2010 and it is considered much more so in July 2011. Yet, after it was approved in the House of Representatives in March 2011 it only awaits the signature of the Senate for approval. There are thousands of unemployed workers which await this (or any other) program to assist them with their mortgage payments. If passed by the senate

    the program will provide loans of up to $50,000 (estimates set the average loan at $35,000) to around 30,000 unemployed workers. Who will receive this assistance? What are the requirements or eligibility criteria for this mortgage assistance program? Although some of the details have still not been published, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has provided a summary with the main requirements applicants must meet to qualify for bridge-loans under the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program. This article will list and comment on these requirements.


    Obviously, this program is not targeted at the wealthy or those with enough assets to care for themselves. In order to focus the target group of the program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has limited the scheme to unemployed workers which had a household income equal or less to 120 percent of the area median income (AMI) in their region. This income includes, wages and salary workers as well as self-employed workers. For example, the area median income of San Francisco, California, in 2010-2011 was $93,400. Only applicants with total incomes of $112,080 or less can apply for this program.

    However, the total income is not the only income requirement. Applicants must also have seen an income reduction of at least 15 percent since they lost their employment. If there has not been a significant reduction in income since unemployment the unemployed worker must use the income available to him to continue paying the mortgage.


    Applicants must be already three months or more behind their payments and must have already received a notice from their lenders informing them of an intention to foreclose on their mortgages. Proof of this may consist of any type of written notification between the lender and the borrower that indicates three months have gone by since the last mortgage payments were made and the intention to foreclose on the mortgage.

    Ability to Repay

    The applicant must also be reasonably likely to repay the mortgage within two years of entering the program. This is determined by the total debt to income ratio of the applicant. To qualify the debt to income ratio of the applicant must be below 55 percent. For example, if your monthly income is $2,000 your housing costs must be below $1,100 a month.


    A final requirement for all applicants is that they must live in the home they are requesting financial help for as their main place of residence. This program cannot be used for investment or vacation homes.

    Do you know what a mortgage servicer is? Many borrowers do not know that the company which receives their monthly payments and sends nasty letters when they are behind on their payments is often not the company or investor that sold them the mortgage in the first place or even the current investor. In the mortgage industry there are three main players, mortgage originators, mortgage servicers and mortgage investors. Mortgage investors put forward the money for the loan, mortgage servicers handle the payments and communication with the borrowers and mortgage originators sell the mortgage. In some cases, all three roles are played by the same company but often these roles are split between specialized companies.

    Of course, throughout the life of your mortgage fees are paid to the companies that manage your mortgage. The origination fee you pay when you sign for a mortgage is part of the payment mortgage originators receive. Every month interest is paid to the mortgage lender and a portion of the interest and mortgage fees goes to the company that manages your payments. These fees do not stop when you are behind in your payments and you are applying for a mortgage modification.

    Mortgage modifications are paperwork intensive procedures which require a lot of research and communication between borrowers, mortgage servicers and mortgage lenders. This may help you understand why mortgage modifications often take so long to get processed even when borrowers clearly qualify for them. Mortgage servicers receive a fee for their work during mortgage modifications. However, the rules that regulate how much they receive have just been changed.

    Fannie May requires mortgage servicers to only charge a fee, if the loan modification is approved. That has been the case for some time now. However, how much mortgage servicers can charge has recently changed. Why? Fannie Mae states recent simplifications in the mortgage modification process as a basis for the reduction in fees charged by servicers under the government sponsored mortgage assistance programs. The current limit is 0.25 percent of the mortgage amount or whatever the mortgage servicer received before the loan modification.

    The maximum allowed servicing fee for mortgage modifications is not the only change announced by Fannie Mae. Mortgage investors and mortgage servicers must also adapt to changes in foreclosure time frames and rules on mortgage delinquency management. Now, if mortgage servicers exceed the allowed time frame to assess a loan modification, Fannie Mae will impose penalties so servicers remediate the problem and improve their performance.

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