The Obama administration will be expanding eligibility requirements for its foreclosure prevention program, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), to help more struggling home owners participate.
The program will expand its eligibility requirements for those who may qualify for a loan modification, including how the debt ratio of mortgage borrowers is calculated as well as extending the program to owners of rental properties too.
HAMP will also triple the incentives it pays banks in order to get more banks to reduce the principal on loans, and it would offer incentives to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce loan principals for those who participate in the program (previously only private lenders and banks were eligible for the incentives).
However, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Freddie and Fannie, says that while it will consider the HAMP changes, in a recent analysis it found "that principal forgiveness did not provide benefits that were greater than principal forbearance" -- a possible sign the GSEs may not support reducing the mortgage principal on loans, housing experts speculate.
HAMP was first launched in 2009 and set out to help some 4 million struggling borrowers modify their loans, yet it has fallen short from its original goal. To date, HAMP has helped fewer than 1 million home owners.
Some housing experts are optimistic that the changes to HAMP will allow more home owners to take part in the program, and that HAMP will help more “responsible home owners lower their costs and stay in their homes," Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council, at a press conference.
The new changes to the program will take effect at the end of April. Also, the program has been extended to December 2013.