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Today Realtor Magazine had 2 stories I thought really went well together. The first was about new short sale guidelines from the government to assist homeowners and to encourage lenders to work out the situation & leave the homeowner alone after the sale with no further liablitity. The second article was about how in the coming months homeowners with Option-ARM loans especially from 2004 could be seeing steep hikes in their mortgage bills. I thought both were topical after the announcements over the last few days about the Making Home Affordable program.
- The property must be the home owner’s principal residence.
- The home owner must be delinquent on the mortgage or close to defaulting.
- The loan must have been made before Jan. 1, 2009, and be for less than $729,750.
- The borrowers’ total monthly mortgage payment must exceed 31 percent of their before-tax income.
Under the plan, borrowers will receive $1,500 from the government for selling homes for less than the amount of their mortgages. Mortgage-servicing companies will get $1,000 for each completed short sale. Second-mortgage holders can receive up to $3,000 of the sales proceeds in exchange for releasing their liens. Investors who hold the first mortgage can collect up to $1,000 from the government for allowing the payments.
Borrowers who complete a short sale under the program must be "fully released" from future liability for the debt, according to the guidelines.
Source: Associated Press, J.W. Elphinstone (11/01/2009) and The Wall Street Journal, Ruth Simon (11/01/2009)
The Second Story:
Option-ARM Borrowers Facing Resets
About 93 percent of option-ARM buyers chose to pay a minimum amount less than the interest due, according to a report released last week by Standard & Poors. That means that nearly all of the 350,000 option-ARM borrowers now owe more than they owed when they first purchased their homes.
Many of these loans were written in 2004 and are close to their five-year reset when the loans convert to a standard amortization. Some more recent loans will reset early if the accumulated interest has pushed the loan-to-value ratio above 110 percent.
In one example outlined in the S&P report, the payment on a $400,000 mortgage goes from $1,287 to $2,593.
The authors of the report say that many ARM borrowers aren’t good candidates for refinancing or modification because their loan-to-value ratios are too high for the government’s Making Home Affordable program. Also, about 80 percent of option-ARM loans were stated-income loans and borrowers could be held legally liable for deliberate inaccuracies on their original applications.
Source: CNNMoney.com, Les Christie (11/26/2009)