A new bill that will help 1-2 million homeowners escape their unaffordable mortgages by refinancing into new low-cost fixed-rate loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has passed the House and will now move on to the Senate. If it is eventually passed by the Senate and signed by the President (who is no longer threatening to veto it), will it help you?
Qualified borrowers must live in their homes and have loans that were issued between January 2005 and June 2007. Additionally, they must be spending at least 40% of their gross monthly income on all household debt to be eligible for the program.
They can be up to date on their existing mortgage or in default, but either way borrowers must prove that they will not be able to keep paying their existing mortgage – and attest that they are not deliberately defaulting just to obtain lower payments.
Before homeowners can get FHA-backed mortgages, they must first retire any other debt on the home, such as a home equity loan or line of credit. Borrowers are not permitted to take out another home equity loan for at least five years, unless it’s to pay for necessary upkeep on the home.
To get a new home equity loan, borrowers will need approval from the FHA, and total debt cannot exceed 95% of the home’s appraised value at the time.
Once the legislation passes, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., one of the authors of the bill, says that help could come “within days of Bush signing the bill,” because lenders are familiar with the details.