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WASHINGTON – Oct. 2, 2008 – A new program rolled out by HUD yesterday could help more homeowners avoid foreclosure. Under the program, the lender of an existing subprime mortgage forgives part of the debt as if it’s a short sale, and the balance of the mortgage is rolled into a fixed-rate FHA mortgage. Unlike earlier programs, however, the HOPE for Homeowners program is aimed more at lenders than homeowners.

“For families struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments, this program will be another resource to refinance into a loan they can afford,” says HUD Secretary Steve Preston. “FHA remains a safe and affordable alternative to the high-priced mortgage loans that threaten homeowners’ ability to retain their homes. We strongly encourage borrowers to work with their lenders to determine if HOPE for Homeowners is the right program for them.”

The Economic and Housing Recovery Act of 2008 authorized the HOPE for Homeowners program. The HOPE for Homeowners Board of Directors was charged with establishing underwriting standards to ensure borrowers, after any write-down in principal, have a reasonable ability to repay their new FHA-insured mortgage.

The program began yesterday and ends Sept. 30, 2011. It’s available only to owner- occupants. In many cases, banks will have to write down the existing mortgage to 90 percent of the new appraised value of the home.

Borrower eligibility

Borrowers should contact their lender to determine eligibility. General requirements include:

  • The home is their primary residence, and they have no ownership interest in any other residential property, such as second homes.
  • Their existing mortgage was originated on or before Jan. 1, 2008, and they have made at least six payments.
  • They are not able to pay their existing mortgage without help.
  • As of March 2008, their total monthly mortgage payments due were more than 31 percent of their gross monthly income.
  • They certify they have not been convicted of fraud in the past 10 years, intentionally defaulted on debts, and did not knowingly or willingly       provide material false information to obtain their existing mortgage(s).

How the program works

The Board expects homeowners will participate in the program primarily through their current lender. HOPE for Homeowners includes the following provisions:

  • The loan amount may not exceed a maximum of $550,440.
  • The new mortgage will be no more than 90 percent of the new appraised value including any financed upfront mortgage insurance premium.
  • The upfront mortgage insurance premium is 3 percent and the annual mortgage insurance premium is 1.5 percent.
  • The holders of existing mortgage liens must waive all prepayment penalties and late payment fees.
  • The existing first mortgage must accept the proceeds of the HOPE for Homeowners loan as full settlement of all outstanding indebtedness.
  • Existing subordinate lenders must release their outstanding mortgage liens.
  • Standard FHA policy regarding closing costs applies.
  • The borrower must agree to share with FHA both the equity created at the beginning of this new mortgage and any future appreciation in the value of the home.
  • The borrower cannot take out a second mortgage for the first five years of the loan, except under certain circumstances for emergency repairs.

The costs to the homeowner include the upfront and annual insurance premiums, as well as a share of the equity created by the write-down associated with the HOPE for Homeowners mortgage and any future appreciation in the value of the home. If the home is sold or refinanced, the homeowner will share the equity with FHA on a sliding scale ranging from a 100 percent FHA share after the first year to a minimum of 50 percent after five years.

The lien holder that previously held the highest priority will receive payment up to a proportion of its original interest, not to exceed the amount of available appreciation. This type of delayed payoff will take place until all prior lien holders are satisfied or the amount of available appreciation is exhausted. All remaining appreciation is remitted to FHA.

Read more about HOPE for Homeowners at

Source: FAR