Making Home Affordable Refinance: The Rules

By Marcie Geffner •

The federal government's Home Affordable Refinance program is designed to help homeowners refinance their mortgages even if they owe slightly more than the current value of their homes.

The program could be a boon for some borrowers, though its many layers of rules may resemble one of those maddeningly complex contests that offer valuable prizes to people who complete a maze of special offers.

The program is complicated because the federal government has a top-level set of rules; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have their own separate sets of rules; and lenders, loan servicers and mortgage insurers generally have their own rules as well.

Borrowers may well wonder where to begin. Here's our guide to help you navigate through this labyrinth of rules.

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Should you skip your mortgage payment?

By Marcie Geffner •

If you've been tempted to skip a few mortgage payments to try to convince your lender to modify your loan, you may want to resist that temptation. Whether your goal is to stave off foreclosure or just make your payments more affordable, experts say deliberate delinquency is not as smart an idea as it may seem.

The bottom line is that:

•If you can make your payment, you should do so.
•If you can't, you shouldn't.
•If you're in between, you should get help to assess your situation.

"Back in the day, (lenders) would only provide modifications to people who were significantly behind because that evidenced that they truly needed the loan modified. They were of that mindset, and they didn't realize the enormity of the problem," says Gail Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in Silver Spring, Md. "But now, they've realized that the logic of making someone become delinquent and dig a deep financial hole before you help them was really not good for anyone."

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Assist-2-Sell Adds Office in Canada

By Marcie Geffner - Assist-2-Sell

Lyle and Sandy Longridge were no different from countless other real estate agents who sell property across Canada. That is, until last August, when the dynamic husband-and-wife duo decided to open up the country's newest Assist-2-Sell® franchise. Their new company, in New Westminster, B.C., opened for business in October, and today, Sandy Longridge calls the couple's choice "the most exciting and fulfilling" decision of their careers.

"We wanted to run our own show and be our own boss," she says. "We wanted to do something that we could believe in."

The Longridges settled on Assist-2-Sell after almost a year of research because they admired the company's business model, which is built around giving home sellers and buyers exactly what they want in today's housing markets: Flexible commissions and superior service.

"Real estate is changing," says Lyle Longridge. "The traditional model is not going to survive in the same form as it is now. Assist-2-Sell is a great way for us to position ourselves for that future and those changes."

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Foreclosure Prevention Counseling, the Law, and You

What you need to know before you offer your services

By Marcie Geffner - California Real Estate magazine

REALTORS® might seem perfectly positioned to offer foreclosure prevention counseling and loan modification services to homeowners who can’t afford their mortgage payments. After all, many of these struggling homeowners naturally turn to the trusted REALTOR® who helped them purchase their home to ask for such assistance. But while you might be willing to help, you also should consider a number of risks before you decide to tackle this type of activity.

Why It’s Risky

The potentially risky areas include real estate licensing law, advance fees, the Foreclosure Consultants Law, and errors and omissions (E&O) insurance coverage.

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