Federal Program Evaluation on Mortgage Refinance and Foreclosures

April 1, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

Please refer to the details laid out in the preceding articles from other news organizations published on this website under the title ‘Mortgage Refinance and Foreclosures.’

Information is also available in the article, @www.mercurynews.com

“By Sue McAllister – San Jose Mercury News, Saturday, March 27, 2010 – Thank you.

“Titled – Debt Relief – Mortgage program: Who will benefit?

Answers to how the federal plan will work and whom it will help”

Program Evaluation – By Padmini Arhant

Making Home Affordable program targets the vulnerable homeowners on the verge of losing their homes.

Mortgagees who are unemployed, underwater and delinquent in their payments could seek assistance upon they meet the criteria.

Aligning mortgage debt with the asset value in order to help people retain ownership is a prudent measure to stabilize the struggling housing market.

It’s evident from these news reports that the program is well intended but the burden rests on the taxpayers through,

Federal Housing Administration insured loans absorbing the entire risk on potential loan default,


Incentives to lenders to reduce principal value for the underwater and unemployed customers provided from the TARP funds…

The finance sector responsible for the subprime mortgage crisis is exempt from any liability.

On the contrary, they are being coerced with the federal funding that appears to be inadequate to rescue the vast majority from foreclosures and loan qualifications.

Federal programs or reform requires oversight to ensure the rules adherence by the industry.

Again, an independent / non-profit consumer rights agency is appropriate to avoid the conflict of interest.

As stated by the consumer advocates, the bankruptcy procedure for loan modifications is more reliable than the service offered by the federal partnership with lenders.

When a particular method is not yielding the desirable results, it is best to choose the option with a positive outcome.

Since the rules are ignored by the industry, setting consequences for non-compliance is an effective approach to limit the program failure.

If the borrowers are subject to terms and conditions then it should be applicable to the lenders as well.

Finally, the program would be beneficial with the banks accepting a fair share of monetary obligations in the principal reduction and the refinancing structure, having been the beneficiary of taxpayer bailout.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

Mortgage Refinance and Foreclosures

March 31, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

In the current economy, two major issues deserve urgent attention.

They are – unemployment and home ownership.

This topic will focus on the homeowners and the federal program under consideration to address the foreclosures arising from high mortgages.

Meanwhile, the following news report and editorial from other news organizations are presented for reference.

According to the –

1. New York Times report By David Streitfeld – Friday, March 26, 2010 – Thank you.

New help for homeowners – Revising Loan Modification

The Obama administration will announce today a broad new initiative to help troubled homeowners, potentially refinancing several million of them into fresh government-backed mortgages with lower payments.

The escalation in aid comes as the administration is under rising pressure from Congress to resolve the foreclosure crisis, which has put millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes.

A major element of the new program, according to several sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, will be to encourage lenders to write down the value of loans for borrowers in modification programs. Until now, modification programs have focused on lowering interest rates.

Another major element will involve the government, through the Federal Housing Administration, refinancing loans from borrowers whose home value has sunk below what they owe on it.

More than 11 million homeowners are in this position, known as being underwater.

That aspect of the plan would apply even to borrowers who have not fallen behind in their mortgage payments.

Investors who own the loans would have to swallow losses but would probably be assured of getting more in the long run than if the borrowers went into foreclosure.

The FHA would insure the new loans against the risk of default.

Many details of the administration’s plan remained unclear Thursday night, including the precise scope of the new programs and the number of homeowners likely to qualify.

This much was clear, however:

The plan could put taxpayers at increased risk.

If many additional borrowers move into FHA loans, a new downturn in the housing market could send that government agency into the red.

The FHA has already expanded its mortgage-guarantee program substantially in the last three years as the housing crisis deepened, insuring more than 6 million borrowers.

Sources said the agency would receive $14 billion in funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, cash it could dangle in front of financial institutions as incentives to participate in the new program.

A third element of the White House’s housing program will require lenders to offer unemployed borrowers a reduction in their payments for a minimum of three months.

An administration official declined to speak on the record about the new programs but said they would “better assist responsible homeowners who have been affected by the economic crisis through no fault of their own.”

The plan would essentially supplant the government’s earlier mortgage modification plan, announced a year ago with great fanfare.

It has resulted in fewer than 200,000 people getting permanent new loans.

As many as 7 million borrowers are seriously delinquent on their loans and at risk of foreclosure.

The news was greeted with cautious enthusiasm by groups that have tracked the foreclosure crisis and tried to assist communities and underwater homebuyers.

“It sounds really good, and I’m not used to saying that,” said Kevin Stein of the California Reinvestment Coalition in San Francisco.

He said “the two main weaknesses” of the existing federal Home Affordable Modification Program were that,

It didn’t reduce the mortgages of underwater homeowners,

And, didn’t help borrowers who were underemployed or unemployed and would have difficulty qualifying for a loan modification.

“It seems they have taken these issues to heart,” Stein said.

“It’s unclear how many people will qualify – that’s the one hesitation. We’re not sure how broadly these initiatives will reach.”

Martin Eichner, with Project Sentinel in Sunnyvale, said the proposals sound good but he would like to see the details.

“It has to help significant numbers of people and there has to be enforcement,” Eichner said.

“These plans always look great in the first news release, but we’ve often been disappointed in the performance. To the extent that lenders write down principal balances, that would be a significant improvement,” he said.

Eichner said the home affordable effort also needs an enforcement mechanism.

“Without any real consequences, day to day we see lenders ignoring what we think are pretty clear rules under the current making home affordable program,”

While the number of foreclosure-related filings is beginning to flatten or decline, the number of borrowers who are seriously distressed is rising.

In the fourth quarter, the number of households at least 90 days past due on their mortgages swelled by 270,000, according to a report issued Thursday by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

“The government is seeking to persuade people to stay in their homes by aligning the mortgage debt with the asset value, which is the only viable path to real housing stability,” said one person who was briefed on the government’s plans.

Several people who described the plans would speak only on condition of anonymity, since they had not been authorized to disclose details ahead of a White House briefing scheduled for this morning.”


2. Editorial in the Bay Area News Group – March 29, 2010 – Thank you.


Titled – Foreclosure plan has carrots but needs sticks –

“Eight million households are behind in their payments or in foreclosure. But the Making Home Affordable programs has modified just 200,000 loans.

Forgive us for not jumping up and down with delight over the Obama administration’s latest plan, announced Friday, to help stem the tide of foreclosures.

The changes will help those who are unemployed, underwater or both.

But they have come so late that it’s difficult to muster much enthusiasm.

Banks participation in solving this problem has been optional for too long.

The government must require those who caused this debacle to do more to end it.

Since the foreclosure crisis began three years ago, 6.6 million families have lost their homes, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.

The problem is not getting better.

Eight million households are behind in their payments or foreclosure, and

One in five are underwater – they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

The administration’s primary tool against foreclosures, the year-old Making Home Affordable partnership with lenders, has so far modified the terms of just 200,000 loans. It is not up to this enormous task.

But the changes announced Friday have the potential to improve that record.

The program will now be open to the unemployed, who previously couldn’t qualify but are a primary victim of foreclosures.

They’ll be eligible to get up to six months’ forbearance and to have their payments lowered to reflect their reduced income, at least for a short time.

Those who owe more than their homes are worth – in California, that’s more than a third of borrowers – may finally be able to get their loan principals reduced.

This much-needed shift in approach addresses another key driver of foreclosure.

Lenders will get incentives to reduce the amount owed.

Borrowers who are current on their payments but underwater – prime candidates to walk away from their mortgages and further weaken the housing market – could refinance into a cheaper government loan.

All of this will help. But the main problem with the government effort remains:

It’s all carrots, no sticks.

Consumer advocates have been pushing Congress for years to allow bankruptcy judges to modify loan terms for primary residences, which could reduce foreclosures up to 20 percent.

The financial industry’s army of lobbyists has managed to beat back that idea, known as “cramdown,” saying it can deal with the problem on its own and through Making Home Affordable.

That’s clearly not the case, because of malice or incompetence.

It would be wonderful if politicians gave the same consideration to desperate homeowners that they do to banks.

Most everyone facing foreclosure nowadays did nothing wrong – they’re simply caught in the cascading wave that began with the subprime mortgage crisis.

The same can’t be said of the banks that got us into this mess and then took billions of taxpayer bailouts.

Allowing judges to modify loans in bankruptcy would add structure to an overwhelmed system.

Reasonable compromises worked out in court would set precedents for lenders to follow.

If they didn’t, they could be forced to by a judge.

Judges have this power for second homes.

There’s no good reason they shouldn’t have it for every home.”
Comment – Review and Analysis is in progress and will be presented shortly.

Thank you for your patience.

Padmini Arhant

Weekly Events Synopsis

March 27, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

This week, President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress secured three major achievements of national and international significance.

Beginning with the latest event:

The world’s prolific nuclear nations, U.S and Russia signed a long overdue nuclear weapons treaty reportedly to reduce the warhead arsenals by one-third with the hope to lead the international community towards a complete nuclear disarmament.

Housing market revival through programs targeting foreclosure for millions of homeowners.


National Health Care Legislation – is a historic victory for the democrats and the Obama Presidency.

A review and analysis on these topics is in progress.

Your patience is much appreciated.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

Housing Market Recovery by decelerating Foreclosures

January 18, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

As stated earlier, the key to the economic recovery is to revive the job market, the housing market and passing the health care legislation. Both job and housing market is entirely dependent upon the consolidated commitments from the public and the private sector.

The public sector represented by the government has the right agenda with the President’s proposal to levy tax on the financial institutions responsible for the financial crisis. However, the collected tax and fees from the finance industry is rumored to be accumulated in the stimulus pool against the Republican supporters’ demand that the proceeds be applied to the national deficit reduction.

Another contentious issue is the industry retaliation to the tax levy trickling down to the end consumer. It’s reported earlier that the industry has vowed to pass on the charges to the customer with an alternative threat to move jobs overseas.

Banking sector’s response of this nature is not unusual and prompts a swift termination of such protocol through regulations blocking the antagonistic traditions that brought the economy on the brink of collapse. Otherwise, taxes and fees should be imposed on the bonuses and stock options claimed by the executives and the senior management.

It’s important to enlighten those individuals fixated on reducing the national deficit when the economy is struggling to emerge from the deep recession. Further, the national deficit is a matter of great concern regardless of political allegiance as the debt mitigation burden is on the immediate and the future generation.

Minimizing deficit by merely returning the revenues and sources of income while, ignoring the cited economic woes is analogous to an attempt to contain the flood with an imaginary barrier.

Expansion in economic growth would directly contribute to the deficit contraction and there is an urgency to divert attention towards the two components i.e. the job and the housing market.

An element of truth noted in the funds being allocated to the potential banks’ bailout per disclosure by the current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the $75 billion housing market stimulus package.

The frustration in this respect is mutual and shared between the Tea Party movement and the Progressives in a bizarre convergence. It’s indeed a relief to view the polarized factions possessing some commonality, proving that a consensus can be arrived on national issues.

Taxpayers can no longer afford to bailout industries who betray them upon being bailed out and fail to fulfill their end of the bargain, i.e. to create and protect jobs that would lead to the economic revival.

Reverting to the tasks ahead for the public and the private sector, the effective strategies are:

Congress should reinstate the repealed Glass Steagall Act that prohibits the finance industry from indulging in speculative trading and instead focus on equity building, deposit security and bar insurance undertakings with high-risk collaterals.

The stand-alone Consumer Financial Protection agency as part of the rigorous financial regulation is a requirement to address the waywardly conduct demonstrated by the financial sector.

President Obama’s proposal in the creation of an agency to safeguard the consumer interests against abuses in mortgages, credit cards and other form of lending is precisely the remedy for the ethically deteriorating banking sector.

Abandoning the measure is a green signal for the repeat episode. Any legislators opposing the proposal are clearly against their constituents and the national interest.

In another related issue, stripping the Federal Reserve of all regulatory responsibilities is based on the dismal performance by the Federal Reserve authorities in the past two decades predominantly due to excessive power entrusted to the single most Federal institution.

On the contrary, the Administration’s position to expand the Fed’s role is a move in the reverse direction considering the status quo.

A noteworthy factor in the legislative affairs is, whenever a suggestion or a legislative proposal is made to reform any industry from the democratic side, the Republican representatives in the House and the Senate have unanimously rejected with a rare exception of one or two daring members casting their vote by bowing to the conscientious call of duty.

The partisanship and double standards was prevalent during the Clinton Presidency but even conspicuous throughout the Obama presidency.

The point in reference is available in the recent Financial Reform bill favoring the stand-alone consumer financial protection agency introduced by the Democratic Senator Chris Dodd and initiated by President Obama.

In contrast, the legislation with a similar agenda from the Republican aisle is overwhelmingly approved not only by the Republican minority but also with the cooperation from the democratic side.

A classic example being the year-end legislative amendment to the financial reform bill put forth by the Republican House of Representative Ron Paul –

The House Financial Services Committee approved Rep. Ron Paul’s measure by 43-26, calling for drastic expansion of the government’s power to audit the Federal Reserve.

The irony being, the ideological opposition consistently against the democrats sponsored government action characterized as ‘take over’ in any legislation is somehow complacent to the vast government intervention in this particular case.

Nevertheless, the amendment is a positive step in the financial regulation aimed at achieving transparency and accountability from the Federal Reserve, the long desired goals in the political and economic sphere.

With populace demand, the gridlock in Washington could be prevented by identifying the legislators contesting the party and not the issue. Likewise, those lawmakers obstructing their constituents opportunities for self-benefit through filibuster and unfair deal negotiations in the Senate vote, ought to explain the reason behind violating the constitutional oath.

Proceeding towards the core economic issue, the housing market decline has unequivocally contributed to the liquidity freeze and paralyzed the residential and the commercial real estate trajectory across the nation.

The housing market synopsis from the news report is depressing and conclusively the forecast is dire unless multiple course of action from the combined forces of the finance industry, the Treasury and the Congress is taken to resurrect the dying sector.

Source: Associated Press, January 16, 2010

Mortgage modifications fall well short of U.S. goal

Housing market may face another difficult year, economist says

By Alan Zibel

“Almost a year later, it appears about 750,000 homeowners – a fraction of the 3 million to 4 million originally projected – might complete the application process, predicts Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com.

A record 2.8 million households were threatened with foreclosure last year, up more than 20 percent from a year earlier, RealtyTrac reported this week.

The foreclosure listing firm expects another record this year.

Home prices, meanwhile, are down 30 percent nationally from the peak in mid-2006.

“It’s a very serious threat to the housing market, and still one of the most significant risks to the broader recovery,” Zandi said.

The Obama plan aims to help borrowers in financial trouble by making homeowners’ payments more affordable.

But just 66,500 borrowers, or 7 percent of those who signed up, have completed the program as of December, the Treasury Department said Friday.

Another 49,000, or more than 5 percent, have dropped out of the program entirely – either because they missed payments or were found to be ineligible.

Thousands more remain in limbo awaiting an answer.

There’s blame on both sides:

Mortgage companies say they have struggled to get back the necessary paperwork, while homeowners and housing counselors say navigating the bureaucratic maze often seems impossible.”


Resolving the Solvable: By Padmini Arhant

Since the government is the largest employer during the economic recession, it’s reasonable to expect the agencies involved in the housing program to function efficiently. In addition, maximum utilization of technology should enable user-friendly application format.

As for the homeowners and the counselors faltering on the paperwork submission despite simplifying the process presumably with a deadline, serving a written notice with a foreclosure warning should yield the necessary response or action from them.

On the paperwork completion, it’s entirely up to the homeowners to salvage their homes from being foreclosed. There are non-profit workshops and agencies working in many counties apart from the internet sources to assist homeowners with the documentation.

Eligibility is the bone of contention in most national issues from housing to health care.

Perhaps, the program needs a thorough review and necessary threshold adjustments to accommodate the volume that would eventually relieve the homeowners, the mortgage companies and the banks from the debt confinement.

It appears that the stringent rules often cause more harm than good in resolving crisis of great magnitude confronting the nation at the present time.

Given the gloomy economic environment, sometimes leniency or relaxing the rules on an individual basis would help the situation with the homeowners retaining possession of their homes.

Foreclosure is an epidemic and drastically affects everyone involved beginning with the mortgagee, the lender, the county, the city and the nation at large, not to mention the crime emanating as a result of the unfortunate event.

Improvement in home values made possible through customized lending as opposed to generic programs is crucial in dealing with the escalating foreclosures, thereby significantly easing the economic recession.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


October 7, 2008

The stock market performance particularly on October 6 and 7, 2008 is a strong indication of the lack of effective measures to address the problems that triggered the financial crisis and subsequently the economic meltdown. The tumbling of the stocks due to aggressive selling day after day is from panic and deep concern among investors across the globe.

The “Treasury” has secured the financial package for the “rescue” plan as an instant relief to the current crisis. However, in preparation to relieve the financial institutions from “bad debts” and “toxic assets”, it has failed to look beyond the “Corporate” horizon. The immediate priority is to lift the nation from the burgeoning “housing market” crisis i.e. “foreclosures” and provide relief to the “homeowners”.

The Congress must act now on bipartisan basis to implement “Moratorium” on the “foreclosures”, and vigorously re-enact the “Bankruptcy provision” to relieve homeowners across the nation. It should not be at the discretion of the financial institutions that are primarily responsible for the mortgage crisis to resolve on their own terms and conditions. As stated earlier, the “foreclosures” are the result of the multi-tiered structures in the financial and real estate industry engaging in unethical practices and reckless conduct with no oversight.

If the “rescue” package does not involve the solutions to the problems of the current economic and stock market turbulence, the entire effort by the Congress is futile. Therefore, it is necessary for government intervention to relieve all homeowners dealing with “foreclosures” and delinquency on their mortgage payments due to the sudden increase in interest rates initially offered as “teaser” rates on the subprime mortgage loans.

The urgent and direct focus on the “housing market” is the only prudent economic strategy available to revive the “housing sector”, one of the structural foundations of the economy. The consistent decline of “home values” is a major factor for the “economic stress” with a ripple effect on the entire financial and commercial sectors.

The “housing” and “energy” industry are fundamental components of the economic infrastructure. Hence, the rescue plan must address the “cause” of the current financial crisis i.e. the “foreclosures” besides facilitating financial liquidity in the commercial sector to stimulate economic growth and development. In terms of the economic stimulus package under consideration, the “energy” subsidies would highly benefit the economy and ease the burden on the “main street” anticipating high “energy” costs in winter.

The impending purchase of the mortgage-backed securities under the “rescue” plan must follow the guidelines to benefit the investor i.e. the taxpayers in both the short and long run. It is important to address effectively any concern by experts such as “The HOPE for Homeowners Act needs to pay less than 36.5 % of the face value of the subprime mortgage backed securities. If more is paid the government loses money in the long run and owners of the securities profit now” and any loopholes that might hamper the deal in the investor i.e. taxpayer’s favor must be eliminated as a safety measure.

The consensus on the legislation of the bill “HOPE” for The Homeowners Act, 2008 is promising and expected to provide relief to an estimated 400,000 families. It is important to follow through the process and ensure transformation of “HOPE” into reality for “homeowners” severely hit in the “housing” market crisis due to massive “foreclosures”.

“Congress” and the financial institutions could reverse the current stock market decline through diligence and prudent economic strategy combined with robust fiscal policy and financial measures to boost investor confidence. Meanwhile, domestic and foreign investors must restrain short selling in the wake of current crisis that is contributing to the pandemonium in the stock market.

The stock market turmoil will cease upon following all of the above measures with no further procrastination to protect the interests of all i.e. the “main street”, the “wall street” and the global market.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant