The HUD Credit-Counseling Requirement of the “Making Home Affordable” Plan

Introduction

The portion of the Treasury Department’s Making Home Affordable Plan (implemented on March 4, 2009, please see earlier article summarizing this Plan) regarding plan participants with high “back end” debt (defined as other debt in addition to your mortgage debt, such as credit cards.) Homeowners in this category, to receive the benefit of a mortgage modification or refinance, must participate in HUD-approved credit-counseling.

This article pertains to situations where borrowers qualify for the portion of the mortgage modification program or mortgage refinance program for homeowners with high back end debt and therefore must participate in mandatory HUD counseling. This article discusses the qualification requirements for this prong of the mortgage modification program as well as the counseling requirements required under this prong.

Credit Counseling and High Back End Debt

Borrowers with high “back end” debt (housing payment, credit cards, and car payment) will have to undergo mandatory credit-counseling to receive a mortgage modification under the Plan. However, under the loan modification prong of the Plan, there is a specific program available for borrowers with high back end debt. Under the Plan, borrowers with back end debt exceeding 55% of their income could be eligible for a loan modification, if they also participate in a HUD-approved credit counseling program.

Generally, if you have less than 20% equity in your current home and your equity has been reduced as a result market conditions, you are among the target group of homeowners at which the Plain is aimed. If your income has declined or your mortgage payment has increased to more than 31% of your gross income (all income before taxes), you also generally meet the guidelines to receive a temporary, five-year reduction in mortgage payment , as well as significant incentives for 催眠 successful participation in the program.

To be clear and avoid scams, there are no closing costs or fees of any kind for participating in the mortgage modification program or the refinance program for Fannie and Freddie Mae mortgages. You should, to the extent possible deal directly with your lender and you should be aware of and avoid any kind of scheme where a broker might try to charge you fees to participate in this program.

For example, among other incentives, homeowners qualifying for and participating in the mortgage modification program qualify for an initial cash payment of $1500, as well as a $1,000 reduction applied to the loan principle for five years. For more exact breakdown of the incentives available to borrowers, lenders and servicers under the Plan, please see my prior article detailing the entire plan. For the purpose of this article, I will be focus primarily on the credit counseling requirements.

How the Credit Counseling Will Work

Credit counseling agencies nationwide must certify themselves as HUD counselors and can then provide the required counseling under the Mortgage Modification Plan. The Treasury has issued some general information to credit counselors to begin implementation of the Plan. The following is a breakdown of the information provided to credit counselors thus far. For example, the Treasury advises credit counselors that if they are already working on a modification plan to benefit a borrower, they must now first consider whether modification under the Plan may be more beneficial to the homeowner.

When a credit counselor determines that a homeowner does not qualify for a mortgage modification under the Plan, the counseling agency is supposed to discuss all loss mitigation options, including loan modification scenarios outside the Plan and opportunities to refinance or access to available local resources such as rescue grants and loans. If it is impossible to work out a deal to keep the homeowner in the home, the counseling agency should discuss short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure as ways to help a borrower transition to more affordable housing.

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