Chapter 1: Foreclosure: The Big Picture. The Hope for Homeowners Act: Effective October 1, 2008, the Hope for Homeowners Act implemented a new program designed to help people convert their current loans into FHA-insured, 30-year fixed-interest-rate loans. As of December 15th, this program has not yet gotten off the ground. According to a report by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, not even one mortgage has been modified under this program and only several hundred modification applications have been submitted. For more details on the program, see the article on this subject in the Nolopedia, Mortgage Refinancing to Avoid Foreclosure.
Chapter 1: Foreclosure: The Big Picture. The bailout bill: On October 2, the Emergency Stabilization Act of 2008 (the bailout bill) became law. This law allocated over $800 billion to the Secretary of the Treasury to deal with the economy and the housing crisis. Under the Act, the federal government will be pressuring banks and mortgage lenders to participate in the Home for Homeowner's Act by agreeing to replace current high-cost mortgages with FHA-insured 30-year fixed-interest-rate mortgages. To assist in this effort, the new Act modifies the Hope for Homeowners Act by eliminating that Act's requirement that the new FHA-insured mortgages be for no more than 90% of the current appraised value. Now, the current lender can be offered any percentage of the current appraised value that the federal government decides is appropriate (even if it is more than the appraised value).
Chapter 3: Can You Keep Your House? Should You? Options under the Hope for Homeowners Act: Under this new law (effective October 1, 2008), you may qualify to have your current mortgage replaced with a new FHA-insured, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for the current appraised value of your home (a little more or less depending on federal policies still in development). See Mortgage Refinancing to Avoid Foreclosure in the Nolopedia for details.
If you are way upside down on your mortgage, this would mean a dramatically lower payment. However, there is a catch: Your ability to take out a second mortgage on the house will be greatly restricted. Also, if you acquire some equity in your home later on and want to refinance or sell the house, the federal government will be entitled to a share of the proceeds. If you sell the house within a year after issuance of the mortgage, the federal government will get 100% of the proceeds. This federal share will decrease to 50% over a five-year period and will remain at 50% after that. If your main goal in keeping your house is to build equity, this might not be such a good deal since you'll have the federal government as an equal "partner" (at best). On the other hand, if you are not concerned about building equity but rather want to keep the house as a good place to live for you and your family, the Hope for Homeowner's Act can help you realize that goal.