Day by Day

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The $275 billion housing stimulus program, with its comforting title "Making Home Affordable," includes $75 billion in foreclosure-relief assistance targeted at the 1 in 5 US homeowners who owe more than their house is worth.

The effort includes a mortgage-modification program intended for up to 4 million borrowers.

Each borrower will be screened based on highly exact terms: Loan amounts may not exceed $729,750 for a single-family home, with higher limits on multiple-unit homes; it must be verified that the home serves as the primary residence for its owner occupant; the home­owner must document that he or she has suffered financial hardship, limiting income – whether through loss of a job, initial deceit regarding income during the underwriting process, or failure of the lender to apply income documentation standards; and, most important, there must be an outstanding loan balance greater than the value of the home.

You don't have to be behind on your mortgage payments to qualify, and no minimum or maximum loan-to-home value ratio is set.

In addition, those who qualify will be required to participate in debt counseling. Such advice is necessary so homeowners don't build another negative mortgage record, as they may qualify only once for a loan modification through Dec. 31, 2012.

For those who do qualify, lenders and the US Treasury will jointly reduce payments to 31 percent of a borrower's income and offer a bonus of up to $5,000 in principal loan reduction – $1,000 a year for five years – for timely payments.

(screech) And exactly how does "initial deceit regarding income during the underwriting process" qualify as having "suffered financial hardship"? Quite honestly that this clause is included and that you have to be upside down in your mortgage...

What about people who were honest, bought a house they could afford, that wasn't inflated then lost their jobs?

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