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3/19/2009 - U.S. Site Offers Guidance on Mortgage Troubles

The Obama administration has introduced a new Web site to help troubled homeowners find out if they’re eligible for any relief under its loan modification or refinancing programs.

The site,, provides homeowners with a general idea of whether they’ll qualify for a loan modification or refinancing by answering four or five questions.

And while the site aggregates many useful resources, consumers shouldn’t take all of its answers or outputs as gospel. Qualifying for a loan modification, for instance, is a nuanced process, and should be discussed with a professional. If the screen says you are not eligible, it is probably still worth reaching out to your mortgage servicer or a housing counselor.

The questionnaire for refinancing is more likely to produce accurate results, simply because it’s a more straightforward program. Your mortgage must be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the two government-controlled mortgage finance companies, and you cannot refinance more than 105 percent of your home’s value. You must also be current on your mortgage.

The site also has a tool that allows homeowners to see if their loan is owned by Fannie or Freddie, a requirement for refinancing. This is a huge help and will make life easier for the many people who were waiting on hold with their mortgage servicers. But again, it remains to be seen what kind of errors may surface here, too.

Given the many permutations an address may take — 30-03 Third Avenue, 30-30 Third Street — even in the same ZIP code, there’s always a chance you may pull up the wrong information. Freddie’s site asks for your name, full address and Social Security number (Fannie just asks for the address), which may leave less room for error.

If you are still confused about whether you are eligible for assistance, you can read more about the plan’s details in the Your Money primer here, as well as in the Treasury’s list of frequently asked questions.

You might also reach out to a counselor approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who can probably help you find assistance even if you’re not eligible for a loan modification or refinancing.

Source New York Times 3/19/2009

Peter Schulz - Editor - Email TCM

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