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Mortgage Help

Mortgage help for current homeowners can come in the form of low interest refinance or loan modification. Mortgage help is also available for homebuyers.

Help for current homeowners:

The federal government’s Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, which was announced in February, 2009, was designed to give assistance to homeowners struggling to keep up with mortgage payments. 

Under the loan modification part of the plan, homeowners receive mortgage help in the form of lower payments for 5 years. These payments are set at 31% of the homeowner’s income and are accomplished by lowering the interest rate on the loan during the modification period. At the end of the 5 year period, the homeowner’s monthly payment would gradually return to its pre-modification level.

In order to qualify for loan modification, the current principal balance owed on the home must be less than $729,750 and the borrower must live in the home as their primary residence. The program will end in December 2012.

Homeowners who are able to make the modified monthly payments on time over the 5 year period may be eligible for a reduction of up to $5,000 in the principal balance on their loans.

Lenders who successfully modify loans qualify for incentive payments from the government, making it a benefit for them to offer this kind of mortgage help.

This mortgage help has come under fire from critics who say it has not helped the number of people it was designed to help.

Mortgage help is also available in the form of refinance.

Thousands of homeowners signed adjustable rate mortgages a few years ago, because the low adjustable rate allowed them to qualify for the loan. They fully expected that their income and credit scores would improve over the following three years and they would be able to refinance before the rate adjusted.

Unfortunately, the economic crisis hit and homes were suddenly worth less than the balance owing. Refinancing became impossible.

Now, under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, if your loan is owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, you can refinance for up to 105% of the value of your home. Another qualification for this mortgage help is that you cannot have been more than 30 days late with any mortgage payment over the previous 12 months.

Mortgage Help for Homebuyers:

Mortgage help in the form of no money down loans are available for military servicemen and their families both through the Veterans Administration and the Navy Federal Credit Union.

No money down loans are also available through the USDA for lower-income first-time buyers who plan to buy in the low-income, “depressed” areas in each state. Contrary to popular belief, these Department of Agriculture loans are not limited to rural homes. In fact, these loans are financing homes in many major cities.

For those who don’t qualify for the no-money down loans, mortgage help is available through FHA programs offering financing with 3 ½% down. While FHA guaranteed loans once accounted for only about 3% of the mortgage loans issued, they now account for about 30%. FHA guidelines are also less strict with regard to credit scores than are conventional loans that require 20% down payments.


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