Unemployed homeowners get mortgage help

By Marcie Geffner - Bankrate.com

A new government program requires lenders to offer three to six months' of lower mortgage payments to some homeowners who've lost their jobs. The temporary assistance is intended to help unemployed homeowners keep their homes while they seek new employment.

The new Temporary Assistance for Unemployed Borrowers program is a step forward, but many of the details are yet to be worked out, according to Faith Schwartz, executive director of Hope Now, a mortgage outreach alliance in Washington, D.C.

The program was announced March 26, but won't be rolled out until later this year.

"The next step is for everyone to race to implement, execute and fine-tune," she says.

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Refinance help floated to underwater homeowners

By Marcie Geffner - Bankrate.com

Underwater homeowners may be able to refinance into a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, and get rid of some of debt -- but only if their lenders agree.

The federal government has announced adjustments to FHA programs intended to increase the number of qualifying mortgages "responsibly restructured and refinanced into FHA loans as long as the borrower is current on the mortgage and the lender reduces the amount owned ... by at least 10 percent," according to congressional testimony by Phyllis Caldwell, chief homeownership preservation officer at the U.S. Treasury Department.

The program is aimed at homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth -- so-called "underwater" homeowners -- and differs significantly from the Home Affordable Refinance Program started up about a year ago.

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Open Houses That Work

By Marcie Geffner - REALTOR Magazine

It’s a never-ending debate that has become more heated in recent years. Do open houses provide any real value as buyers spend more of their house hunting time online?

Some practitioners dismiss the open house, saying it’s an outdated custom that’s carried on mainly to placate home sellers. Other real estate pros remain devoted to the method. Their track records show that open houses can, and often do, get the property sold.

Even when a Sunday afternoon buyer doesn’t emerge, the open house serves as a prospecting opportunity, a way to fill their pipeline with future business.

Read more: http://www.realtor.org/rmosales_and_marketing/Articles/2010/1005_selling_openhouses