Underwater Borrowers May Have Been Thrown a Lifeline

The Home Affordable Refinance Program did not assist as many borrowers as government had hoped – new expansion of the program may slow the rate of foreclosures

“The timing of this may well benefit those who are desperately searching for ways to keep their heads above water.” – Attorney Marlyn Wiener

BOCA RATON, Fla. (November 10, 2011) – “It’s a glimmer of hope for tens of thousands of Florida borrowers.”
That’s the reaction from veteran real estate attorney Marlyn Wiener, who is cautiously optimistic about the revised rules just announced for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). The new rules mean many borrowers who are “underwater” or “upside down” on their homes will be able to refinance their existing loans at today’s ultra-low rates.

The revised program will help those borrowers who have been making on-time monthly payments, but are paying expensive mortgages at rates of 6 or 7 percent, much higher than the current national average of about 4 percent. It will give these borrowers an opportunity to refinance their mortgages at a lower interest rate. Until now, most banks would not refinance loans that were underwater.

“This seems to be a move in the right direction that potentially will help millions of people, and could well give the economy a boost it desperately needs,” said Wiener, a South Florida-based attorney who focuses her practice on real estate and business law.

Though details of the plan are still being worked out, the new rules stipulate that only those loans that were purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009, will qualify. Borrowers can go online to learn whether their loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac by entering their property information at www.freddiemac.com/mymortgage or www.fanniemae.com/loanlookup.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plan to disclose the full details of the plans to the banks Nov. 15. The program is expected to be up and running in the first quarter of 2012.

“The bottom line is this expansion of HARP should bring real relief to Florida homeowners,” Wiener said. “Although the ability to refinance under the modified program will not include principal reduction, it will result in lowered mortgage payments and more disposable income for Florida households.”

With offices in Boca Raton and Miami, the law office of Marlyn J. Wiener, P.A., handles all business and real estate transactions. Since 1981, Marlyn Wiener has represented Realtors; small to mid-size businesses; mortgage bankers, brokers and lenders; contractors and construction companies; real estate investors and developers; commercial landlords and tenants; and homeowners and renters. Visit the firm’s website at www.mwfloridalaw.com. For more information, interview requests, or digital images, please contact Dave Bloom of Bloom PR at dave.bloom@ournewsroom.com or (954) 332-2375.