Labor Day Gift of Hope: FHA Offers Help for Delinquent Homeowners
Washington, DC -- President George W. Bush today announced that HUD's Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will help an estimated 240,000 families avoid foreclosure by enhancing its refinancing program effective immediately. Under the new FHASecure plan, FHA will allow families with strong credit histories who had been making timely mortgage payments before their loans reset-but are now in default-to qualify for refinancing.
In addition, FHA will implement risk-based premiums that match the borrower's credit profile with the insurance premium they pay-i.e., riskier borrowers pay more. This common-sense, risk-based pricing structure will begin on January 1, 2008.
"Many hard-working American families who were able to make their mortgage payments under the initial teaser terms of the exotic loan are now struggling to make ends meet because their rates have doubled or tripled," said HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson. "FHASecure will bring stability to the housing market and give eligible families who were in good financial standing before their loans reset a chance to keep their homes."
The combination of FHASecure and risk-based premium pricing will permit FHA to return to the role it was originally designed to play, bringing stability to the real estate market by helping break today's cycle of foreclosures and price depreciation and creating much needed liquidity in the now-constricted mortgage market.
FHA has recently experienced a substantial increase in the number of conventional borrowers refinancing into FHA products. With FHASecure, it can help even more. The number of these refinancing transactions has tripled since the start of 2006. FHA's transactions are projected to surpass 100,000 loans by the end of the fiscal year. To date, these figures do not include refinances for delinquent borrowers.
The FHASecure initiative will operate under the same safe guidelines as the FHA's existing mortgage insurance program without affecting FHA's financial health. Eligible homeowners will be required to meet strict underwriting guidelines and pay a mortgage insurance premium, which offsets the risk to FHA's insurance fund at no cost to the taxpayer.
The risk-based insurance premium structure will further expand FHA's reach to additional underserved borrowers, particularly minorities and first-time homebuyers who have been disproportionately lured into exotic mortgages, and enhance the FHA's overall risk management. The move to risk-based premiums ensures that FHA remains on solid financial footing as a self-financed agency for the long-term.
FHASecure, like all FHA products, will be underwritten to ensure the borrowers have the ability to repay the loan, will require escrow for taxes and insurance, and will continue to offer unprecedented foreclosure prevention assistance. The FHA has never permitted and will not include pre-payment penalties or teaser rates that are common in exotic mortgages and have caused much of the current market troubles.
To qualify for FHASecure, eligible homeowners must meet the following five criteria:
- A history of on-time mortgage payments before the borrower's teaser rates expired and loans reset;
- Interest rates must have or will reset between June 2005 and December 2009;
- Three percent cash or equity in the home;
- A sustained history of employment; and
- Sufficient income to make the mortgage payment.
"FHASecure is designed for families who are good borrowers but were steered into high-cost loans with teaser rates," said Assistant Secretary for Housing-FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery. "These homeowners, many of whom are minorities, need a safe, affordable mortgage product that will help build wealth. All FHA borrowers pay mortgage insurance premiums to offset claims to the FHA insurance fund and ultimately prevent risk to the taxpayer."
FHASecure will also bring much-needed liquidity to the mortgage market. FHA anticipates more lenders will offer FHA-insured loans, pool them, and securitize them with the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), which has the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. This guarantee makes Ginnie Mae's mortgage-backed securities the safest on the market and helps to channel greater capital into the housing market, benefiting U.S. homeowners.
NAR President Issues Statement on Bush's Proposed FHA Changes
Pat V. Combs, 2007 president of the National Assn. of REALTORS, released the following statement in support of Federal Housing Administration policy changes proposed today by President George W. Bush:
“The National Association of REALTORS strongly commends President Bush for his leadership in proposing a set of policies designed to ease the crisis in the mortgage industry and halt the rapidly increasing rate of foreclosures affecting many American families today.
“NAR has been advocating for many of these FHA changes since early 2007. In letters, testimony, speeches and meetings, we have encouraged both Congress and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make meaningful changes to the FHA that would stem rising foreclosures.
“The proposed changes will allow more people to refinance with FHA insurance, like those that have fallen behind in their mortgage because of so-called “exploding ARMs.” Many families who have been making their mortgage payments at the starter rate but were unable to keep them up after the loan reset have been unable to refinance through the FHA, but with this increased flexibility, FHA can now help many more families in jeopardy of losing their home.
“We will continue to use our voice and presence in Washington, pushing Congress to act quickly to enact other FHA program changes that will help ease the current crisis and protect consumers. FHA modernization should include increasing loan limits, eliminating or reducing the amount of cash down payments required for FHA loans, establishing risk-based pricing, revising prepayment penalty regulations, and increasing loss mitigation efforts.
“NAR also supports separate legislation to abolish the mortgage cancellation tax that consumers are hit with when their mortgage is forgiven by their lender. NAR believes in a comprehensive effort to ensure this crisis will not repeat itself and alleviate the burden for many families who are currently facing the nightmare of losing their home.”
NAR and its 1.3 million members pledge to work with Congress to ensure that the rights of states are upheld in all industries, and that consumer rights are protected.
Since its inception in 1934, FHA has helped almost 35 million people become homeowners, making it the largest insurer of mortgages in the world. The 109th Congress introduced the Expanding American Homeownership Act in June 2006 which would enable FHA to be a safe option for more underserved low- and moderate-income and minority families so they can achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Today, President Bush also urged Congress to quickly pass the Administration's FHA modernization proposal to help more families in need.
For more information about FHASecure and other FHA products, please call 1-800-CALL-FHA or visit www.fha.gov or www.hud.gov. For a list of your local homeownership center or a HUD-approved housing counseling center, go to www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm
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