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Real Estate Law Blog

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Application Deadline for Making Home Affordable Program (HAMP) Extended

Posted on February 15, 2014 at 11:14 PM Comments comments (64)
The application deadline for the Making Home Affordable Program which includes HAMP Loan Modifications has been extended through  December 31, 2015.

Read U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Release below:


Obama Administration Extends Application Deadline for the Making Home Affordable Program


  Extension through December 2015 Will Provide Struggling Homeowners Additional Time to
Access Sustainable Mortgage Relief and Align End Dates for Key Assistance Programs 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development today announced an extension of the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program through December 31, 2015. The new deadline was determined in coordination with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to align with extended deadlines for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and the Streamlined Modification Initiative for homeowners with loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Making Home Affordable Program has been a critical part of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive efforts to provide relief to families at risk of foreclosure and help the housing market recover from a historic housing crisis. The program deadline was previously December 31, 2013.

“The housing market is gaining steam, but many homeowners are still struggling,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “Helping responsible homeowners avoid foreclosure is part of our wide-ranging efforts to strengthen the middle class, and Making Home Affordable offers homeowners some of the deepest and most dependable assistance available to prevent foreclosure. Extending the program for two years will benefit many additional families while maintaining clear standards and accountability for an important part of the mortgage industry.”
 
“The Making Home Affordable Program has provided help and hope to America’s homeowners," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "Families across the country have used its tools to reduce their principal, modify their mortgages, fight off foreclosure and stay in their homes - helping further stimulate our housing market recovery. And with this extension, we ensure that the program keeps supporting communities for years to come.”
 
Since its launch in March 2009, about 1.6 million actions have been taken through the program to provide relief to homeowners and nearly 1.3 million homeowners have been helped directly by the program. The Making Home Affordable Program includes the Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP, which modifies the terms of a homeowner’s mortgage to reduce their monthly payment to prevent foreclosure. As of March 2013, more than 1.1 million homeowners have received a permanent modification of their mortgage through HAMP, with a median savings of $546 every month – or 38 percent of their previous payment. Data from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) shows that the median savings for homeowners in HAMP is higher than the median savings for homeowners in private industry modifications, which has helped homeowners in HAMP sustain their mortgage payments at higher rates. As a result, HAMP modifications continue to exhibit lower delinquency and re-default rates than industry modifications.
 
The Making Home Affordable Program has also put into place important protections for homeowners that have helped inform efforts to create standards for the mortgage servicing industry. This includes requirements for mortgage servicers regarding clear and timely communications with homeowners and protections to ensure that homeowners are evaluated for assistance before being referred to foreclosure. The Administration has issued reports on the program every month since July 2009, which provide the most detailed information available about individual servicer efforts to assist homeowners. As part of this report, Treasury issues a quarterly assessment for each of the largest servicers in the program to highlight their compliance with program requirements.
 
Homeowners seeking assistance with their mortgage payments should remember that there is never a fee to apply to the Making Home Affordable Program. Homeowners can work with a HUD-approved housing counseling agency free-of-charge to understand their options and apply for help. Homeowners should visit MakingHomeAffordable.gov for more information about free resources for assistance or call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).

Read the U.S.Treasury Press Release on-line here.

The Law Office of Jeanne M. Reardon can be reached at (516) 314-8433 or visit our website at www.jreardonlaw.com/Loan-Modification for more information.

Know Your Rights Under the Home Equity Theft Prevention Act ("HETPA")

Posted on December 2, 2011 at 11:17 PM Comments comments (41)
The Home Equity Theft Prevention Act ("HETPA") became effective on February 1, 2007 and now governs certain sales of homes in foreclosure or default.  If you are planning to sell a home in foreclosure or default, you should be aware of your rights under the Act, and know what to expect from a legitimate buyer.  The Home Equity Theft Prevention Act was passed in response to recent scams which targeted homeowners in financial distress (often elderly or unsophisticated homeowners).

Home equity theft occurs when investors approach a vulnerable homeowner in foreclosure or default and agree to pay off the arrearage owed on the mortgage by the homeowner, and in return, require the homeowner to sign the deed over to them. Often the homeowner through a reconveyance agreement is allowed to continue to live in the property renting it from the investor with the promise that they can buy back the property at some later date. The reality is, however, that the homeowner is often evicted and the investor sells the property to a third-party, keeping all the equity. In other instances, the investor cashes out on the equity in the home with a new mortgage– usually through a cash-out refinance, leaving the homeowner with a mortgage balance larger than the previous and a monthly payment that is completely unaffordable.


Definitions and Covered Transactions

Under the Act, a Covered Contract is defined as a contract or agreement between an Equity Seller and an Equity Purchaser.  The homeowner or property owner at the time of the equity sale is referred to as the Equity Seller.  An Equity Purchaser is defined as any person who acquires title to any residence in foreclosure or default.

Only transactions involving an Equity Purchaser are covered by the Act.  Most real estate transactions between sellers and Purchasers, however, are not covered by the Act because the law excludes from the definition of Equity Purchaser those who purchase a property as follows: 

•  To use, and then actually uses, the property as his/her primary residence;
  By a deed from a referee in a foreclosure sale;
•  At any sale of property authorized by statute;
  By order or judgment of any court;
  From a spouse, or from a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or sibling of such person or such person’s spouse;
  As a not-for-profit housing organization or as a public housing agency; or
  As a bona fide purchaser or encumbrancer for value (e.g. a lienholder)


Contract Requirements

In order to protect homeowners, the contract of sale between an equity seller and equity purchaser must meet the following requirements: Contract must be fully completed (i.e., no blank spaces); Font size of the printed contract must be equal to at least 12-point bold type; If Spanish is primary language of the seller, the agreement must be provided in English and in Spanish; Name, address and phone number of the buyer; Address of the subject property; Consideration to be paid; List of all services that buyer has promised; Terms for payment of the consideration; Time at which possession of the property must be surrendered; Terms of any rental or lease agreement; Terms of any reconveyance agreement; Notice of right to cancellation in the immediate proximity of signature line and must be printed in 14-point type on the agreement; and Notice of cancellation form to be attached to the contract.


5-Day Right of Rescission

The Act also gives the equity seller a five-day right to cancel the contract.  Once an equity seller cancels the contract, the equity purchaser must return all contracts and other documents signed by the seller within 10 days of cancellation.  Cancellation of the contract releases the equity seller of all obligations to the equity purchaser.


Remedies

2-Year Right of Rescission - Generally, a violation of the contractual requirements of the Act makes the conveyance voidable and may be rescinded by the homeowner within 2 years of the date the deed was recorded. The statute then gives the purchaser (or its successor) twenty days to reconvey the property on the condition of repayment of any consideration paid to the seller. 

6-Year Statute of Limitations - Within 6 years, a homeowner may bring a cause of action for damages or equitable relief, treble damages and attorneys fees and costs for a violation of HETPA.  Additionally, an equity purchaser can be held criminally liable for violations of the law as either a Class E Felony or a Class A misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $25,000.00.


For more information, see New York State Banking Department pamphlet on the Home Equity Theft Prevention Act.




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