Help From Home Foreclosure is Finally Here

imagesWith President Obama’s foreclosure prevention program in place, home owners may now start to begin the process of saving their homes. This is especially good news for homeowners in the San Fernando Valley, where my real estate appraisers in Valley Village as well as real estate appraisers in North Hollywood have seen the price of homes drop dramatically over the past year. Keep in mind that one of the biggest components to a home appraisal is finding what the comparable prices of surrounding homes are selling for, and when you see foreclosure signs peppered throughout a neighborhood, everybody’s home value goes down. This is one of the reasons so many people are now seeing their homes underwater, which means they owe more than what the house is worth and this makes it very difficult to get a loan modification.

With the help of President Obama’s foreclosure prevention program, many homeowners may get a chance to apply for a loan modification, which will better suit their current economic condition. The plan, which is a multipronged fix, calls for companies to help as many 4 million struggling borrowers by modifying loans so monthly housing payments are no more than 31% of monthly gross income. Separately, homeowners who haven’t missed a payment can refinance into lower-cost loans even if they have little or no equity. This is expected to help up to 5 million homeowners. This will help stop the foreclosures that are steamrolling through cities and towns like the San Fernando Valley, and that in turn will help raise the value on a home appraisal.

The $75 billion foreclosure prevention plan will allow for loan modifications that will provide incentives to borrowers and loan servicers and investors to spur mortgage modifications, even if your home is underwater. The government will also subsidize interest rate reductions to get borrowers to affordable monthly payments. More than likely this will mean that you will need to reappraise your home to find out what it is currently worth, and for real estate appraisers in Valley Village as well as real estate appraisers in North Hollywood, this is most welcome news as their cities have been two of the hardest hit in the housing market crash.

“This plan will help make home ownership more affordable for nine million American families and in doing so, help to stop the damaging impact that declining home prices have on all Americans,” said Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan. This is more than just great news for homeowners, it’s great news for everybody because, as Mr. Donovan states, declining home prices have played a huge roll in the recession we find ourselves in. A rise in home appraisals is one of the signs that things are beginning to improve for everybody, not just people in jeopardy of losing their home, which is why President Obama’s foreclosure prevention plan is a huge part of the stimulus package and good for us all. This will also help raise the value of homes underwater, and bring prices to a reasonable level.

As of today, borrowers can start contacting their servicers to see whether they are eligible for assistance, and they may want to begin to look around for a professional to do their home appraisal so they know what their home is currently worth when they begin the loan modification process. Federal officials will promote the program at homeownership events nationwide, and real estate appraisers are getting up to speed on the new loan modification guidelines. I know, for example, that many real estate appraisers in Valley Village along with their counterparts, real estate appraisers in North Hollywood, are in constant contact with lenders so that they are all on the same page when their customers are ready to begin the process.

There are, however, eligibility criteria you need to meet. For example, the loan modification plan focuses on people who are behind in their payments or are at risk of default, which Federal officials clarified as those: suffering serious hardships, declines in income or increase in expenses; facing an interest rate hike; having high mortgage debt compared to income; owing more than their house is worth, or demonstrating other reasons for being close to default. But if you fit into these categories, the foreclosure prevention plan may be the Godsend you need.

If you or anybody you know is thinking about applying for a loan modification and need help finding out what your home is worth, please visit our real estate appraisers in Valley Village and our real estate appraisers in North Hollywood at www.iappraiseforyou.com and we can help you get the fair market value of your home. You may also want to check out www.hud.gov for more information on who qualifies for President Obama’s foreclosure prevention plan.

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The Obama Administration Announces New Plan for TARP Funds

The Obama Administration rolled out its much awaited foreclosure-prevention plan they will use the second half of the TARP funds for on Wednesday, saying it could help as many as 7 million to 9 million homeowners meet their mortgage payments. Some of the Key components include modifying the terms of delinquent loans, refinancing underwater mortgages and putting more money into the federal housing agencies in order to keep mortgage rates low. But will it work?

The fact of the matter is that while the housing market may have started the devastating decline of our economy, we now have a record number of people out of work, and even more on the horizon. However, this plan may be a good start as it is a series of targeted interventions designed to help specific groups of borrowers and by doing that, it’s hoped, limit the damage caused by foreclosures both to neighborhoods and to the overall economy.

The idea in this new plan is to use TARP funds to restructure the loans of homeowners who are behind on their mortgages or, and here is where the plan may do some real good, those who are an imminent danger of falling behind. The Obama Administration is keenly aware that up until now, only homeowners that were already behind on their payments qualified for government assistance, which only made the problem bigger. Now, those of you that have been struggling to keep up and have somehow managed to scrape by have a chance of reducing your mortgage as well. Up to now, homeowners had to wait to default before they could even get a return phone call from their bank. However, some people are saying that this new plan won’t do a lot of good because it gives much of the power to make the decision on who gets help and who doesn’t to the lenders.

The Obama Administration accounted for this though and added incentives to lenders that cut the interest rate on loans to help reduce homeowners’ monthly payments. The plan is to pay lenders $1,000 every time they do this, but they have to reduce the borrowers’ payment down to 38% of their gross income, which is quit a bit. But the $1,000 will be paid out for three and five years for keeping the loan current. This doesn’t sound like much of an incentive, but given the economic pressure banks and lenders are under, every little bit helps.

Another criticism of this plan for the second half of the TARP funds is the fact that the Obama Administration didn’t make it mandatory for lenders to make these deals, and with the lack of help many homeowners are getting, the fear is banks won’t spend a lot of their time on these restructured mortgages. But given the fact that policymakers had to walk a fine line between helping borrowers who have been caught off guard by tricky mortgage products and falling house prices and those who simply made imprudent decisions and genuinely can’t afford their homes, it is at least a step in the right direction. In order to avoid propping up the second group, Treasury won’t subsidize loan modifications that reduce the interest rate below 2%. If you can’t afford a 2% mortgage, in the eyes of the government, you can’t afford your house. The plan also doesn’t apply to investors or people with jumbo mortgages — those, historically, larger than $417,000. Loans for homes that would be more valuable to lenders if repossessed won’t get modified.

As to how much the Obama Administration’s new plan will help, that remains to be seen. However, we all know how dismal the results were for the first half of the TARP funds, so we should at least be better off than we are now. Mortgage lenders will have to really get on the ball in order for it to work, because deciding who gets the reduced interest is in their hands. How about you homeowners? Do you think this plan will help you out? How about the lenders out there; do you think it’s too much pressure on you? I really want to know what the rest of you think about this plan, and if you believe there was any better alternative. Please leave your comments, questions and suggestions, and let’s keep the conversation going.