FHA is offering refinances for qualifying underwater borrowers, according to a mortgagee letter sent out by HUD last week.

Mortgagee Letter 2010 -23 came as a result of the changes announced by HUD in March 2010 in the MHA (Making Housing Affordable) FHA program.

The letter states that the focus of the program is:

These enhancements are designed to maintain homeownership by providing borrowers, who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home, opportunities to refinance into an affordable FHA loan. This opportunity allows borrowers who are current on their mortgage to qualify for an FHA refinance loan provided that the lender or investor writes off the unpaid principal balance of the original first lien mortgage by at least 10 percent.

Hopefully this will help a large number of people who do not want to leave their homes and can possibly make smaller payments per month to remain.

The refinances must have their case numbers assigned after September 7, 2010, and all of these qualifying loans must close by December 31, 2012.

The mortgagee letter is more than five pages long, and there are many details and eligibility requirements.

Participation is voluntary and requires the consent of lien holders. In order for a loan to be eligible, the following conditions must be met:
1.    The homeowner must be in a negative equity position;

2.    The homeowner must be current on the existing mortgage to be refinanced;

3.    The homeowner must occupy the subject property (1-4 units) as their primary residence;

4.    The homeowner must qualify for the new loan under standard FHA underwriting requirements and possess a “FICO based” decision credit score greater than or equal to 500;

5.    The existing loan to be refinanced must not be a FHA-insured loan;

6.    The existing first lien holder must write off at least 10 percent of the unpaid principal balance;

7.    The refinanced FHA-insured first mortgage must have a loan-to-value ratio of no more than 97.75 percent;

8.    Non-extinguished existing subordinate mortgages must be re-subordinated and the new loan may not have a combined loan-to-value ratio greater than 115 percent;

9.    For loans that receive a “refer” risk classification from TOTAL Mortgage Scorecard (TOTAL) and/or are manually underwritten, the homeowner’s total monthly mortgage payment, including the first and any subordinate mortgage(s), cannot be greater than 31 percent of gross monthly income and total debt, including all recurring debts, cannot be greater than 50 percent of gross monthly income;

10. FHA mortgagees are not permitted to use premium pricing to pay off existing debt obligations to qualify the borrower for the new loan;

11. FHA mortgagees are not permitted to make mortgage payments on behalf of the borrowers or otherwise bring the existing loan current to make it eligible for FHA insurance; and

12. The existing loan to be refinanced may not have been brought current by the existing first lien holder, except through an acceptable permanent loan modification as described below.

Baltimore underwater homeowners should find out if they are eligible by a Baltimore mortgage professional. If this option is not open to you, and you still want to avoid foreclosure in Baltimore, contact me to help you. There may be other options open to you.