New Hope for Underwater Homeowners

January 10, 2010 Updates

We are all hearing  about banks helping — or not helping —  folks having trouble paying their mortgage payments. In many cases, the people that are being helped, 40 or 50% of them, default on their loans a few months after  the loan was restructured.

Underwater in East BayRestructuring almost always  extends the term of the loan or reduces the interest temporarily.  Seldom is the principal of the loan reduced.

This may change. Owners  that are under water, that is they owe more than their homes  are worth, which  here in California are about 1/3 (and in neighboring Nevada is 2/3!), have little incentive to make their payments  or take care of their homes.  Lets face it, they feel more like renters than owners.  So some banks, Wells Fargo, for instance, are reducing the principle owed or deferring payment of the principle.  In the case of  a principle reduction, some of the loan is forgiven.  In the case of deferment a  part of the principle  is deferred until the time when the owner sells the house, at which time he has to pay back the amount of principle  that was deferred.  Either way, the owner is more  motivated to stay put and continue making payments, now at a reduced level. We are hoping it works.  An agent recently told us she knew 6 people living in El Cerrito or nearby communities that hadn’t made payments in over a year but had not been foreclosed upon.  We suspect there are a lot of people out there like that which means foreclosures may increase and extend over a lot longer time.   Let’s hope effective action of some kind can be taken.

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