"Hope Now" program to curb delinquency/foreclosures fraught with problems

The Hope Now program currently being proposed in the other Washington is designed to assist current homeowners with Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM’s) in which their ARM’s may adjust upward causing financial hardship. An issue of immense concern is how do you sift through the thousands of homeowners and qualify those who’s mortgages are about to recast to some ugly interest rate? Further, how do all the stakeholders and investors of these mortgages see this playing out—that’s the part Attorneys will have to fight about (what say you Attorneys?).

If the Government players in this program, including one of the lead Conductor’s in this orchestra, Treasury Secretary Paulson, have their way, the investors of these loans will have to be a good sport and play along, never mind losing copious amounts of money, nor the other legal implications.

‘The modification of existing contracts, without the full and willing agreement of all parties to these contracts, risks significant erosion of 200 years of contract law,’ said Joshua Rosner, managing director at an independent research firm in New York.

I am a Mortgage Dispenser

Over the past month, I’ve been combing through my database of my closed clients who have either adjustable rate or balloon mortgages.   I’m sending each and every [photopress:july55ad.jpg,full,alignright]one of them a letter reminding them of the terms of their mortgage.   Regardless of how much time I spend explaining how their mortgage program functions, as soon as someone has moved into their new home and they’re unpacking boxes—they’ve forgotten the fine details to the financing that made buying a home possible! 

The letters restate what is disclosed on the Federal Truth in Lending and their Note, including what their margin and caps are.    It also addresses when their first adjustment will take place and what the worse case rate and payment may be.   Worse case payments are currently not disclosed on the Truth in Lending.   

I began my mortgage career on April 1, 2000.   So far, 20% of my closed transactions have been adjustable or balloon mortgages and 3% of my total closed business would be classified as “subprime

What is your Mortgage Exit Strategy?

Unless you have a long term fixed rate mortgage, you should develop an exit strategy.   An exit strategy is a well thought plan on how you’re [photopress:airplaneexit.jpg,thumb,alignright]going to leave your current mortgage.  Every time you board an airplane, the Stewardess reviews the “exit strategy”.   They’re not planning on an actual emergency landing, they are simply preparing you for a worse case scenario and informing you where the exits are and what you need to do in that event.  

You should have a plan if your current mortgage is:

Having a plan (being prepared) does not mean waiting until you receive a notice from your mortgage company that your mortgage payment is hiking because your fixed period on your ARM is over.   You need an exit strategy because once fixed period is over and your mortgage adjusts, odds are that your new mortgage payment will not be desirable or affordable.  

You need to start developing your plan well in advance.    Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Find the Note for your mortgage (deed of trust) and determine what your new rate may be using the worse case scenario.   If you have an ARM, you can figure this out by adding the first cap to your interest rate.   For example, if you currently have a 5/1 ARM with a note rate of 5% and the first adjustment rate cap is 5% (5/2/5 is a common cap structure), your new rate could be 10%.   If the first adjustment cap is 2% (2/2/6 is another possibility); your new rate could be 7%.   If your ARM has an interest only feature and will also be converting to amortized payments (some have longer interest only terms beyond the fixed rate period), you’re in for a double whammo if you’re keeping the mortgage.
  2. Determine what your worse case payment may be.  Your new payment will be amortized over the remaining term of the mortgage.   Use an amortization schedule to see what your mortgage balance will be at 60 months (using the 5/1 ARM scenario) and figure your payment based on the maximum possible rate amortized for 300 months.   This new payment does not include taxes and insurance.  In fact, anyone with an adjustable rate mortgage, regardless how long the remaining fixed term is, should contact their LO to determine what their “worse case payment