President Obama announced a $75 billion plan to restructure nearly 9 million mortgages on the brink of foreclosure.
The plan would create incentives for banks and reform bankruptcy rules to help homeowners stay in their homes. There are currently 13.8 million homeowners in the United States that owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth.
The plan would:
• Remove restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that prohibit the institutions, both taken over by the government last year, from refinancing mortgages they own or have guaranteed when more is owed on a home than it is worth. The White House says this could reduce monthly payments for up to 5 million homeowners.
• Create incentives for lenders to modify subprime loans at risk of default or foreclosure. For lenders that agree to reduce rates to levels borrowers can afford, the government will make up part of the difference between the old monthly payment and the new payment. Participating lenders also will be required to cut payments to no more than 31 percent of a borrower's income. Up to 4 million homeowners could benefit.
• Keep mortgage rates low for millions of middle-class families seeking new mortgages. Using money already approved by Congress for this purpose, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve will continue to buy Fannie and Freddie mortgage-backed securities to maintain stability and liquidity in the marketplace. The department, through its existing authority, will provide up to $200 billion in capital for this purpose.
• Pursue reforms to help families avoid foreclosure. The administration will continue to support changing bankruptcy rules so judges can reduce mortgages on primary homes to their fair market value, as long as the borrower sticks to a court-ordered repayment plan. As part of the $787 billion stimulus package that Obama signed into law on Tuesday, the administration will award $2 billion in competitive grants to communities experimenting with innovative ways to prevent foreclosures.