Our hearts go out to those affected by the recent hurricanes.
As a real estate professional, you may receive questions in the coming weeks and months from friends, family, and clients on what to do about their mortgage payments and next steps. We've provided some information below to get you started, but please check our website frequently for updates.
Who should impacted homeowners contact about their mortgage payments?
What payment options do impacted borrowers have? Fannie Mae works directly with mortgage servicers to offer special options for those impacted by disasters. Eligible homeowners who are having difficulty paying their Fannie Mae mortgage may qualify for:
- Homeowners with Fannie Mae-owned loans should contact their mortgage company/servicer as soon as possible (the company listed on your monthly mortgage statement) to see what options you qualify for. To find out if a loan is owned by Fannie Mae, visit www.knowyouroptions.com. If the loan is not owned by Fannie Mae, use this link to see if Freddie Mac owns the loan.
- Contact a Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Network partner if you need additional assistance or if you are having difficulty working with or reaching your mortgage company. Free personal assistance is available in person or over the phone (English and Spanish) through our Mortgage Help Network.
- A forbearance to temporarily suspend or reduce mortgage payments up to 6 months
- Late charges to be waived
- A modification solution to cure any delinquency after a forbearance
- Possible suspension of legal proceedings (i.e., foreclosure)
Beware! Scam artists will attempt to offer assistance and services to support those affected by a disaster.
- For remediation and repair, be sure to work with a legitimate company-search for the name of the company in email addresses or on letterhead and use a search tool/resource to confirm the company's legitimacy.
- Note inconsistencies like grammar mistakes, typos, names of organizations that are slightly off. For example, Making Home Affordable (singular) is the name of the government-sponsored program that helps homeowners, Making Homes Affordable (plural) is not.
- Never feel pressured to "take immediate action." Research and check facts before signing any agreement or sending any money.
- Never give out bank account/routing information until you have verified and confirmed the source. And remember, mortgage help is FREE. Always be leery of someone demanding payment or promising guaranteed results.
For more tips on how to avoid scams, visit here.
by Jonathan Lawless, Vice President of Customer Solutions at Fannie Mae
Student loan debt is often cited by potential buyers as the number one reason they are delaying life choices such as marriage, parenthood, and buying their first home.
Interestingly, the key to easing student loan debt burden could be home equity. There's $13.3 trillion in home equity in the U.S. That's a resource that homeowners could leverage to pay off student loan debt — either their own or debt they've co-signed for.
Fannie Mae introduced its student loan cash-out refinance product in 2016, and recently made the option widely available through Desktop Underwriter®, an automated underwriting system used by most lenders. The student loan cash-out refinance allows homeowners with at least 20 percent equity to refinance their mortgage and use the proceeds to pay down or pay off a student loan.
This spring, two additional updates went into effect to help expand the number of people who can be helped.
Let's Support the Next Generation of Homeowners — Together
- Calculating Student Debt — Historically, Fannie Mae required lenders to consider a fully amortizing payment for every student loan in the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio calculation, regardless of whether the borrower was in an income-based repayment plan (which can significantly lower monthly payments). With the recent updates, lenders can use the documented income-based payments for DTI calculations. This could have an immediate effect on people's ability to purchase a home, since 10 percent of federally insured student loan debt holders are on an income-based repayment plan.
- Debt Paid by Others — Some graduates get help paying their bills, including their student loans. Often, they're helped by a parent, but help could also come from a spouse/partner or employer. In the past, debt paid by others would be included in the graduate's DTI ratio. Under the new policy, debt paid by others will not be calculated in the borrower's DTI as long as the borrower evidences the other party has been satisfactorily paying the debt for the past 12 months. This reduces the borrower's DTI. For lenders, this change widens borrower eligibility.
Our industry needs to work with real estate professionals to help young adults achieve homeownership. With 44 million borrowers burdened by student loan debt, this is a huge opportunity.
To learn more, visit our website.
by Marsha Peters
Neighborhood stabilization is important to Fannie Mae. That's why we ask our HomePath Pro listing agents to look at properties through the eyes of prospective buyers, and make affordable improvements (working with field service companies) to boost curb appeal. Fannie Mae expects agents to make assessments upon acceptance of a listing assignment that result in an attractive property to buyers, thereby stabilizing neighborhoods.
In June, we challenged listing agents to show us how they WOW buyers with affordable improvements and to send us photos. We received a lot of great entries, and although it was hard to narrow our choices, here are photos that were provided by some of our first place winners:
Agent Chris Singleton – Georgia
Added shrubs, flowers and mulch. Total Cost $893
Agent Kathy Landrock – New York
Power wash, new mulch and plants, roof cleaned,
painted the garage door and trim. Total Cost $850
Agent Shane Grady – Missouri
Installed shutters and lattice, hanging baskets
and accent bushes. Total Cost $998
Agent Monica Falciani – New Jersey
Power wash, added a gutter package, plants and flowers,
painted the front foundation, steps and trim
added decorative stone and American flag. Total Cost $1,110
Agent Nancy Christian – Ohio
Trees and overgrown bushes were removed,
new flowers and mulch were added. Total cost $500
Agent Mary Jo Potts – Pennsylvania
Steps, front door, and exterior trim painted,
hydrangeas, mulch, flowering & potted plants added,
also added an American flag. Total cost $2,300
Agent Douglas McCowan – Arizona
Painted the home and columns with a grey/cream exterior,
removed dead plants, new rock added to all planted areas,
added American flag and cowboy boot planter. Total Cost $8,640
Agent Mike Nolan – Florida
Power wash, cleaned the yard, painted porch posts,
planted blooming flowers, pruned bushes, added mulch,
also added stepping stones and flag. Total cost $485
Visit our HomePath website
for more information about HomePath homes.
by Karen McDaniel
A Trojan horse or Trojan, is a form of malware that is often disguised as legitimate software. Trojans can be employed by cybercriminals trying to gain access to your systems. Using some form of social engineering, cybercriminals can trick you into loading and executing Trojans on your systems. Once activated, Trojans can enable cybercriminals to spy on you, steal your sensitive data, and gain backdoor access to your system.
Trojans are destructive programs that appear harmless, safe, and even helpful, but they are actually malicious. Trojan horses are often effective because they come from reputable-sounding sources. Typically, you'll receive an e-mail that carries the Trojan horse in an attachment or web link. If you open the attachment or follow the link, the malicious code executes, installing itself on your computer along with a seemingly benign file. The infected document will often open normally, leaving you clueless that anything happened. The most damaging attacks allow full, real-time control of the infected computer. Once the virus has control of your PC, nothing is off-limits. Whomever runs the virus now has control of your machine and everything on it.
Worse yet, once a Trojan horse succeeds on one machine, the chances of future success increase significantly. Many Trojan horse programs can use content stolen from previously infected machines to enhance their appearance of legitimacy.
By installing effective anti-malware software, you can defend your devices – including PCs, laptops, Macs, tablets and smartphones – against Trojans. In addition to scanning for viruses on a regular basis, install an "on access" scanner (included in most anti-virus software packages) and configure it to start each time you start up your computer. This will protect your system by checking for viruses each time you run an executable file. Other ways to stay protected:
- Use a virus scan before you open any new programs or files that may contain executable code. This includes packaged software that you buy as well as any program you might download from the internet.
- Make sure you back up your data (documents, bookmark files, important email messages, etc.) so that, in the event of a virus infection, you do not lose valuable work.
- Only install third-party applications and software that you really need. Make sure they are from the vendor or the Android, Apple, or Windows Store. Since the app stores allow third-parties to post and sell apps, make sure the app is from a trustworthy source.
- Update your operating system's software as soon as the updates are available from the software company. These groups tend to exploit security holes in outdated software programs. In addition to operating system updates, you should also check for updates on other software that you use on your computer as well.
- Don't visit unsafe websites. Most internet security suites include a component alerting you that the site you're about to visit is unsafe.
- Don't download attachments or click on links in unfamiliar emails.
- Protect accounts with complex, unique passwords.
- Finally, you should always keep your personal information safe with firewalls.
by Jonathan Lawless, Vice President of Customer Solutions at Fannie Mae
Real estate agents in Mississippi are behind new state legislation creating a first-time homebuyer savings account program. The accounts function like 529 savings accounts for college expenses, allowing contributions to be deducted from taxable state income. Individuals can deduct up to $2,500 and joint filers $5,000. The account interest is tax-free as well.
By pairing these down payment savings accounts with low down payment mortgages (such as Fannie Mae's HomeReady® mortgage
, which offers 3 percent down), a path to homeownership is created for many, notes David Griffith, president of Mississippi REALTORS®
and broker and co-owner of Griffith Real Estate & Appraisal Services. "And that path is now less than 18 months for the average Mississippian," he says.
There is no time cap or limit on how much can be saved. As long as the money remains in the account (or is withdrawn for eligible expenses), it is not subject to income taxation at the state level. If the money is used for other purposes, the borrower is penalized 10 percent of the withdrawal amount and all back taxes associated with the account.
Mississippi's law went into effect in March and the tax savings start in 2018. The law is expected to boost homeownership by about 7,000 new first-time buyers over the next five years and spur new-home construction across the state.
States with similar laws include Montana, Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, and Minnesota.
Visit our website for more information on HomeReady mortgage.
by Clarice Shepard
Short sales can be hard to understand, and Fannie Mae appreciates the critical role that the listing agent plays in helping homeowners who are considering a short sale – it is not an easy decision for homeowners to make. Fannie Mae takes pride in providing best-in-class customer service to you and your customers during a short sale transaction. Many agents have shared comments on what the process was like.
Here are few of their comments:
HomePath for Short Sales
- "It was a pleasure working with all involved. Response time was fast and concise." - Lucille
- "I was impressed with immediate answers. Great experience." - Dominic
- "Love the speed and transparency" - Penny
- "I really appreciated the timeliness and attention to the file." - Halie
- "I was very surprised and relieved to have such great service." - Jenny
- "I wish that all my short sales were handled through Fannie Mae. It makes things move much smoother." - Cindy
was created to educate borrowers and agents on the short sale process, allowing agents to work directly with Fannie Mae and servicers to assist with decreasing the overall short sale timeframes. The portal has information and resources to help you understand the short sale process.
What is the process for a short sale?
if you have questions about the short sale process or 1-888-894-0205 to reach the HomePath Short Sale portal support center. Click here
to access training aids on the short sale resource page.
They Were Starting to Think They'd Never be Homeowners!
by Jennie Tal Williams
When Steve McKee first saw the 850-square foot, two-bedroom house in the Arlanza neighborhood of Riverside, CA, he wasn't immediately sure it was right for an REO sale. Steve, a Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage real estate agent in Southern California, has been fixing up and selling lender-owned properties for more than 25 years, so he's no stranger to hard work, but he knows that there is an order of operations to these things.
"The first thing I do is the inspection," he said. "This property had weeds up to my chest and I'm 6'2"!"
While doing the inspection, he also noticed overgrown and dead trees – one that was lifting up a fence and the neighbor's driveway - several code issues including ones with the home's windows, and an illegally converted garage. But the total code violations were less than $500 and the other main potential issues (like sewer connectivity) all ended up being negligible, so Steve took a chance on the house – which is what he likes to do whenever possible.
"If I know I can sell a property to a first-time homebuyer instead of an investor, that's the way I want to do it," he said. "I think that's what Fannie Mae is all about: putting property out there and getting an owner-occupied buyer – especially a first-time homebuyer – in the home. So that's my thinking and my approach."
The initial values were about $150,000 with repaired estimates coming in around $250,000. With at least $40,000 in repairs, it was going to be tight, but Steve took a chance that paid off. With a new HVAC system, completely remodeled kitchen and bathroom, refreshed exterior and brand new windows, the home was listed at $249,900 and had several offers the first week. The home – which is just a block away from an elementary school – ended up selling for $257,500 to a first-time homebuyer with two small children.
The neighborhood in California is a growing one, and the family's agent told Steve that they were repeatedly getting outbid on home after home. Their offers were good, but other offers just kept coming in higher.
"The agent told us they lost many houses before this one came along," said Steve. "They were getting frustrated and thought they'd never be homeowners! Their dreams came true! Their agent told me they were just ecstatic and, to me, that's what real estate is all about. That's what I'm here for. Ultimately, our goal is to get families into homes."
Steve added that because the family used the city's down payment assistant payment program, he felt like everything about the purchase embodied HomePath®
's goals of getting families into homes.
But, it wasn't just this family who benefitted. Steve said he could see little pick-me-ups all around the block as soon as work wrapped up on his remodel. One house across the street got a fresh coat of paint. A house down the block has a cleaner yard.
And the woman next door with the tree uprooting her driveway?
"We showed her that Fannie Mae takes care of the neighborhood," said Steve.
We're interested in hearing from you on relief efforts for those affected by the recent hurricanes. Email us at email@example.com. If your story fits into future coverage, we'll be in touch.
Help your buyers get into their dream home and build your business with the HomeReady mortgage, Fannie Mae's affordable lending product. Click the Real Estate Agent HomeReady Toolkit to learn more:
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|Help Prevent Fraud
Fannie Mae is committed to preventing fraud perpetrated by any party or parties involved in transactions associated with a Fannie Mae REO property. Fannie Mae expects agents to consistently and accurately follow both the letter and spirit of all Fannie Mae policies, procedures, functions, guidelines and philosophies, and to comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
If you are aware of or suspect inappropriate activity in connection with a Fannie Mae property, please immediately report Mortgage Fraud or call our Fraud Tips Hotline, 1-800-2FANNIE (1-800-232-6643).
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