Almost since his appointment as acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Ed Demarco remained steadfast about not deviating from the agency’s mission as a guardian over taxpayers’ assets—held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This was in response to call for Demarco to make policy changes at Fannie and Freddie that would help struggling homeowners during the housing crisis. Demarco has sole authority over the government-sponsored enterprises.
Many housing advocates, economist, and policymakers will automatically associate his tenure over the FHFA with millions of Americans losing their homes. The agency failed to yield to mounting pressure to enact policy changes that would help many homeowners across the country—many who subsequently lost their homes to foreclosures.
This week, Fannie and Freddie introduced a plan that would eliminate the requirements for borrowers who are 90 days delinquent in their mortgage payment to have to prove hardship to have their home loans modified to a lower monthly payment.
The Way The New Plan Works
In the pass, struggling homeowners had to provide details and documentation that outlined their financial circumstances—once a major pediment to both borrowers and mortgage lenders.
Beginning in July, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will send out letters to eligible homeowners that will explain the loan modification offer.
The plan revises the terms for the current home mortgage. The homeowner will have to make three monthly payments under the provisions of the new home loan agreement to make the revised terms permanent.
Will It Help The Recovery?
Many housing advocates and analysts welcome the change in policy even at this late point. Others say a loan modification when the market is in recovery mode have a relative effective as compared to the period after the housing market crashed.
Now, with the recovery of the residential real estate the market, concern centers on whether the change in policy will help fuel recovery in the market recovery or impede its growth. The following dynamics point to a market strong market trending the right direction:
- Home rates - up
- Mortgage delinquencies - down
- Foreclosures – down
Some economists believe the latest program may help fuel home prices. Others fear the scheme encourages borrowers to become delinquent on their mortgages and can end up hurting the economy.
Other Housing Programs Since 2008
Here are some the other loan modification programs that were designed to prevent foreclosures introduced by Congress or the Obama administration over the last several years. The first two have expired and the third program is still in effect.
Hope for Homeowners – 2008
- Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) – 2009
- Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) – 2009
When it was launched, the loan modification program HAMP was touted as the scheme that would help three million borrowers. A study produced by the Federal housing finance agency, revealed that HAMP benefited about 900,000 Americans.
HARP has undergone several revisions. It has underperformed in terms of its original estimate because of policies and processing issues with mortgage lenders.
Borrowers who have underwater mortgages that are owned/ insured by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may be eligible to refinance their home loan to take advantage of low interest rates and lower their monthly payments.
This program expires at the end of 2013.