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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 27, 2010

How to benefit from new mortgage aid plan


By Alan Zibel
Associated Press

WASHINGTON The Obama administration yesterday announced a major reworking of its troubled $75 billion plan to prevent foreclosures.

The revamped program is now designed to aid jobless homeowners and people who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

Here's a look at the details:

Q. How does the new plan work?

A. Government officials didn't specify but said they should become available in the coming months.

Q. I'm unemployed. How do I get help?

A. Lenders will encourage you to consider a short sale, in which you sell your home for less than the mortgage amount. Another option is a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, in which you agree to hand back the property to your lender.

Q. I owe more on my mortgage than my house is worth. Will this help me?

A. Mortgage companies that already participate in the government's foreclosure prevention program will have to consider reducing the mortgage amount for borrowers who owe at least 15 percent more than their home's current value. Those reductions will happen gradually over three years and apply only if you miss no payments.

Q. How do I qualify?

A. Call the company that sends your mortgage bill, also known as your mortgage servicer, to see if you qualify. If you can't get hold of someone, try a nonprofit housing counselor. NeighborWorks America runs a national network of foreclosure counseling agencies. Try: www.findafore closurecounselor.org.

Q. How does the refinancing program work?

A. Homeowners must not have missed any payments on their home loans, must live in their home as a primary residence and must provide proof of income.

Q. How do I apply for the FHA plan?