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By Gino Blefari
July 15th, 2011
More help is out right now from the federal government for a small portion of the millions of homeowners who have fallen behind on mortgage payments. What is it this time? In a nutshell, free money. But struggling homeowners need to act fast as they’re only accepting applications until July 22.
The Emergency Homeowners Loan program is a $1 billion program that offers loans up to $50,000 to homeowners who have lost their jobs. The kicker? For those who qualify, the loans don’t have to be repaid.
How it works:
The program – operated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the nonprofit housing group NeighborWorks America – is making loans with better terms than anything a local bank can offer. The loans are interest-free, and payments go directly to the lender to cover a portion of a borrower’s monthly mortgage.
Borrowers can get assistance for up to two years. Once assistance ends, 20% of the loan is forgiven with each passing year. So qualified borrowers who stay in their homes for at least five years after the assistance period don’t have to pay this money back – as long as they don’t fall behind on their mortgage again.
What’s the big catch? We know there’s always one that seems to derail the intent of these programs to help millions of homeowners out of bad situations.
Well, for one thing, if borrowers decide to sell their home before the entire loan is forgiven, they’ll have to pay the remaining amount back. Some say that this potentially creates an even worse situation for these borrowers as they’re further in debt than they were before taking the loan.
Also, if borrowers fall behind on their mortgage payments and either sell or refinance, they’ll also have to pay back the remainder of the loan. Because of this, some critics have already said that taking these loans may actually put some homeowners more in debt and make their situations worse.
Another catch? HUD says these loans will only be made available to 30,000 people. That’s a pretty small portion of the millions who face foreclosure due to missed mortgage payments. To be eligible, a borrower needs to have experienced income loss from either losing a job, a medical condition or some other economic problem. Details are available at this link: http://ehlp.nw.org/.
If you or someone you know is facing foreclosure, it’s worth checking out whether you can get assistance from this program. But, first make sure you have a long-term plan for staying in your home.
Real Estate Japan Note: This article is by Gino Blefari, CEO of Intero Real Estate. Intero is a Real Estate Japan partner and the leading realtor in Silicon Valley.
Photo credit: Elspeth and Evan via Wikimedia Commons
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