I recently asked in one of my post, just what the bailout was doing for Main Street. Well here is my answer.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest U.S. mortgage-finance companies, will accelerate anti- foreclosure efforts by streamlining loan modifications to lower monthly payments for more struggling homeowners.
Fannie and Freddie, operating under a government conservatorship, will target loans in which borrowers are at least 90 days delinquent and have high loan-to-income ratios, officials from the Treasury and the Federal Housing Finance Agency said today at a press conference in Washington. The companies may offer homeowners reduced interest rates and longer terms of as much as 40 years to trim monthly payments.
“This new protocol will be a standard for the industry to quickly move homeowners into long-term sustainable mortgages,” Neel Kashkari, the Treasury’s interim assistant secretary, said in a prepared statement.
The initiative expands efforts by the Hope Now Alliance, a group of investors, advocacy groups and mortgage lenders and servicers such as Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson helped create last year. The success rate in the past for “curing” delinquent loans with modifications similar to what the government proposes was about 50 percent for both prime and subprime borrowers with damaged credit, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association
The effort to stem foreclosures and the depressed house prices they perpetuate entered a new phase on Tuesday as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced a fast-track program meant to make hundreds of thousands of mortgages affordable to people who can’t currently meet their monthly payments. The roll-out follows on the heels of new loan modification programs at JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup, but the move at Fannie and Freddie, which together hold or guarantee some 58% of single-family home loans, has the potential to reach much farther since the mortgage industry often takes its cue from the two entities.
Under the new program, homeowners with mortgages held by Fannie and Freddie who are at least 90 days delinquent will be eligible to have their monthly payment reduced to 38% of gross income, as long as they’re not in bankruptcy and can illustrate a hardship or change in financial circumstances. This model, based heavily on a streamlined loan modification program the FDIC is implementing at the failed lender IndyMac, is a strong endorsement of the idea that doing a lengthy analysis of homeowners’ finances is taking too long to make a dent in the nation’s housing woes.
But the details of how, exactly, monthly payments will be lowered has raised concern in certain quarters. In a news conference explaining the program, James Lockhart, who runs the agency that oversees Fannie and Freddie, highlighted three tacks: reducing interest rates, extending the length of loans and, in some cases, deferring payment on part of the principal. There is a big difference, though, between permanently reducing an interest rate and doing it temporarily. And the new program doesn’t forgive principal, only defers it, which may not go very far at a time when some 18% of mortgage holders owe more to the bank than their house is worth. “If all they’re doing is lengthening the loan maturity, it may reduce the economic stress a little bit, but it doesn’t deal with the main problem, which is you have an underwater loan,” says Richard Green, director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California.
Sorry to say thast this is just anotrher band-aid for a gunshot wound. Fan and Fred hold only a small percentage of the mortgages and this will only help a small percentage of trouble homeowners. Sorry, my question is still valid, what and when can Main Street expect help or is Wall Street the only concern?