U.S. Treasury's Financial Stability Plan - Making Home Affordable – Second Lien Program
On April 28, 2009, the Obama Administration announced details of new efforts to help bring relief to responsible homeowners under the Making Home Affordable Program, including an effort to achieve greater affordability for homeowners by lowering payments on their second mortgages as well as a set of measures to help underwater borrowers stay in their homes.
The Second Lien Program announced today will work in tandem with first lien modifications offered under the Home Affordable Modification Program to deliver a comprehensive affordability solution for struggling borrowers. Second mortgages can create significant challenges in helping borrowers avoid foreclosure, even when a first lien is modified. Up to 50 percent of at-risk mortgages have second liens, and many properties in foreclosure have more than one lien. Under the Second Lien Program, when a home Affordable Modification is initiated on a first lien, servicers participating in the Second Lien Program will automatically reduce payments on the associated second lien according to a pre-set protocol. Alternatively, servicers will have the option to extinguish the second lien in return for a lump sum payment under a pre-set formula determined by Treasury, allowing servicers to target principal extinguishment to the borrowers where extinguishment is most appropriate.
Separately, the Administration has also announced steps to incorporate the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) Hope for Homeowners into Making Home Affordable. Hope for Homeowners requires the holder of the mortgage to accept a payoff below the current market value of the home, allowing the borrower to refinance into a new FHA-guaranteed loan. Refinancing into a new loan below the home’s market value takes a borrower from a position of being underwater to having equity in their home. By increasing a homeowner’s equity in the home, Hope for Homeowners can produce a better outcome for borrowers who qualify.
Under the changes announced on April 28, 2009 and, when evaluating borrowers for a Home Affordable Modification, servicers will be required to determine eligibility for a Hope for Homeowners refinancing. Where Hope for Homeowners proves to be viable, the servicer must offer this option to the borrower. To ensure proper alignment of incentives, servicers and lenders will receive pay-for-success payments for Hope for Homeowners refinancing similar to those offered for Home Affordable Modifications. These additional supports are designed to work in tandem and take effect with the improved and expanded program under consideration by Congress. The Administration supports legislation to strengthen Hope for Homeowners so that it can function effectively as an integral part of the Making Home Affordable Program.
Making Home Affordable, a comprehensive plan to stabilize the U.S. housing market, was first announced by the Administration on February 18th. The three part program includes aggressive measures to support low mortgage rates by strengthening confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; a Home Affordable Refinance Program, which will provide a new access to refinancing for up to 4 to 5 million homeowners; and a Home Affordable Modification Program, which will reduce monthly payments on existing first lien mortgages for up to 3 to 4 million at-risk homeowners. Twelve servicers, including the five largest, have now signed contracts and begun modifications under the program. Between loans covered by these servicers and loans owned or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, more than 75 percent of all loans in the country are now covered by the Making Home Affordable Program.