The news is full of housing reform stores but the shelf life for reform legislation seems shorter than that of freshly baked bread—what made the news just yesterday is often obsolete by today.Congress

We expect 2009 to be a turbulent time in real estate. Knowing how to weather the storm is paramount to the survival of homeownership.

Key Elements

President Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus bill which includes many features to protect homeownership.

These are a few of the incentives targeted to help 4-5 million responsible homeowners stay in their homes:

\\· Provide access to low cost refinancing where borrowers who have less than the required 80% loan-to-value could refinance to lower their monthly payment.

· Seventy-five billion will be spent on homeowner stability initiatives to help struggling homeowners who, because of the recession, are hard pressed to make their mortgage payments and cannot afford to sell or refinance their home due to a drop in value.

· No aide to speculators. The initiative has no provision for assisting investors or speculators.

· Provide support for homeowners who are at imminent risk of default before they miss a payment.

· Provide loan modifications to bring monthly payments to sustainable levels.

· â€Pay For Success”—Initiative for loan servicers to receive $1,000 per month each month a borrow stays current on their loan.

· â€œHelp Borrowers Stay Current”—Provides a $1,000 per month reduction in a home owners’ principle loan balance for five years if the borrower keeps their payments current.

· â€œReaching Borrowers Early”—An incentive of $500 to loan servicers and $1,500 to mortgage holders if they modify at-risk loans before the borrow falls behind.

· â€œHome Price Decline Reserve Payments”—Holders of mortgages modified under the program would be eligible for an additional insurance payment (from a newly formed entity under the Treasury Department) on each modified loan to offset declines in the home price index.

There are quite a few more initiatives to help homeowners. Though many do not apply to the majority of the loans on the Peninsula since they are not held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Lenders Are Worried.

Recently, many lenders have been modifying loans without incentives just to keep their head above water. However in contrast to the President's incentive plans, many banks require the homeowner to be months behind in payments before any relief is possible.

â–ºIf your mortgage is scheduled for an interest rate increase which you feel you may not be able to afford, we encourage you to contact your mortgage holder immediately and see if they will modify your  existing loan. It’s in everybody's best interest if homeowners can continue to make their monthly payments, even if it takes a loan modification to make it happen.


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