Who and how to qualify for mortgage help

The legislation will allow those who qualify to cancel their old mortgage loans and replace them with 30-year fixed-rate loans for up to 90 percent of the home’s current value. The FHA will insure a total of $300 billion of the loans over a three-year period.

But the decision on whether to write such a loan remains up to banks, which would have to be willing to take a loss on the existing loans in exchange for avoiding an often-costly foreclosure.

Eligible borrowers must have spent more than 31 percent of their monthly incomes on their mortgages as of March 1, 2008. The troubled loan must have originated no later than Jan. 1, 2008, and be on the borrower’s primary residence. And the borrower’s income must be verified.

The program start effective October 1st and runs through September 2011, although the FHA isn’t likely to have it operating at full capacity until next year.

Consumers can determine if their loan qualifies by checking with the bank or financial company servicing their mortgage, but it may be weeks before they make decisions concerning the new guidelines and assess individual loans.

 If you sell during the next five years after entry into the program, you must agree to share 50 percent of any profits from the resale with the government. What’s more, homeowners can only retain equity gains based on a sliding scale. The homeowner would have zero equity from a sale in the first year, with the amount rising 10 percent in each succeeding year and capping at 50 percent from a sale in year five and thereafter.

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