Tuesday, November 11, 2008

FHFA Modification Program Details

by Bill McBride on 11/11/2008 02:35:00 PM

Here is the press release from the FHFA. Note that this does not include principal reduction as a solution to create an affordable payment, and is limited to: "extending the term, reducing the interest rate, and forbearing interest".

This is intended to help "thousands" (a drop in the bucket unless it is several hundred thousand), and seems to encourage homeowners to stop making payments until they are 90 days late.

Here are some excerpts:

Q: What is a streamlined modification?

A: A streamlined modification is a modification that requires less documentation and less processing. In this case, the streamlined modification seeks to create a monthly mortgage payment that is sustainable for troubled borrowers by targeting a benchmark ratio of housing payment to monthly gross household income.

Q: What is the benchmark ratio?

A: This is the first time the industry has agreed on an industry standard. The benchmark ratio for calculating the affordable payment is 38 percent of monthly gross household income. Once the affordable payment is determined, there are several steps the servicer can take to create that payment – extending the term, reducing the interest rate, and forbearing interest. In the event that the affordable payment is still beyond the borrower’s means, the borrower’s situation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis using a cash flow budget.

Q: Why is it necessary?

A: With the rise in serious delinquencies and increasing number of loans in foreclosure, this program will help borrowers who have missed three or more payments, but want to keep their homes. Because the eligibility requirements and process are streamlined and consistent, the program will allow servicers to reach more borrowers more quickly.

Q: Who is eligible?

A: The highest risk borrower, who has missed three payments or more, owns and occupies the property as a primary residence, and has not filed bankruptcy. The loan is a Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae or portfolio loan with participating investors. To qualify for the streamlined modification, the borrower must certify that he or she experienced a hardship or change in financial circumstances, and did not purposely default to obtain a modification.

Q: Why must the borrower be 90 days delinquent? Why not earlier in the delinquency cycle?

A: This is a streamlined solution targeted to reach the most at risk borrower. For borrowers who do not qualify, other solutions are available. This in no way substitutes for the meaningful efforts by all servicers and investors that are currently in place. The 212,000 workouts reported by HOPE NOIW in September are testimony to that fact. We will continue to see those efforts produce meaningful results.

Q: How many people will this help?

A: While difficult to assess, it is clear delinquencies are predicted to continue well into 2009. Foreclosure estimates are significant. Having a streamlined approach will assist many borrowers who default and more quickly. We estimate this will ultimately help thousands of borrowers.

Q: How do borrowers apply?

A: To be considered for the program, a seriously delinquent borrower should contact his or her servicer and provide the requested information – monthly gross household income, association dues and fees, and a hardship statement.

Q: How do borrowers complete the modification process?

A: Upon receiving the Modification Agreement from the servicer, the borrower signs it and returns it with the 1st payment at the modified terms along with income verification. Once the borrower makes three payments at the modified terms and the account is current as of day 90 of the modified plan, the modification is complete.

Q: When will servicers start offering this program?

A: We expect that by December 15th, servicers will be positioned to work with eligible borrowers.