May 19, 2009- Congress passed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 sending the legislation to President Obama for signature. This program expands the previously announced Obama Making Homes Affordable and Homeowner Affordability and Stability plans. Although the provisions that would give bankruptcy judges the power to cram down mortgage in bankruptcy proceedings was absent, the legislation adds more incentives to lenders to keep people in their homes with reasonable payments through mortgage modifications.
The act expands the number of homeowners who will be eligible for loan modifications. These programs can extend mortgages to 40 years, reduce interest rates, and reduce the principal on both first and second mortgages for a person’s primary house. If a home that has a modified loan under this program is sold within the first 5 years after the modification, the mortgage holder (lender) gets anywhere from 10 to 90 percent of any equity accumulation from the net sales proceeds.
Since the plan gives the loan servicer (who is usually the only person you can negotiate with when it comes to your loan) a safe harbor when entering into certain loan modifications, workouts, or other loss mitigation plans, this should help push servicing companies to worry less about liability in modifying loans and more about helping homeowners.
The legislation also extends the increased Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIC) coverage limit from $100,000 to $250,000 from the end of 2010 to the end of 2015.