Mortgage Freeze - Australia

There are many people who seem to doubt the depth of the current economic crises or accept that it is a worldwide phenomenon. Yet it has recently been announced by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia that they are prepared to offer mortgage repayment holidays for periods up to 12 months for people who have lost their jobs.

It seems that a measure of agreement has been reached, between Australian government officials and major banks, to assist families struggling to pay their mortgages through unemployment, which is progressively worsening. A major objective is to prevent people falling into arrears with their mortgages that are often a prelude to foreclosure.

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Measures to restrict foreclosures have previously been announced, as part of a so-called financial stimulus, in other leading countries, including the USA and the UK. In fact the twenty leading nations are to meet in the UK in April to try to reach agreement on what they can do together to limit the severity of the recession.

There are similar schemes to those being introduced in Australia, to assist people behind with their mortgage payments in other countries and it is a welcome trend. Losing a home is a personal disaster, particularly when it is as the result of economic downturn, over which individuals have no control.

Governments are often criticized for saying what they are going to do and falling short on the implementation. It is to be hoped that they will treat help for mortgage payers as an urgent priority, and ensure that funds earmarked for the process are readily available. In this respect the banks have an opportunity to improve their recently tarnished image by giving as much publicity as possible to government initiatives. That way, people who suffer from the scourge of losing their jobs, will know that help with paying the mortgage is readily available.


Obama's Fairy Tale Ending To Mortgage Problems!

The US housing stimulus plan, allocated with $275 billion dollars of government money, a.k.a. taxpayer's money, is to be known as the "Making Homes Affordable" program.

An article in the Christian Science Monitor likens the plan to a "Goldilocks" endeavor. As children's books go, the plan might be more appropriately connected with the three little pigs, who were up to their necks in real estate. Remember, a house of straw and a house of wood, were readily disposed off, before the wicked wolf was stopped in his tracks by the brick built variety!

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Whether what is being offered by the Obama administration can keep the wolves at bay, and dramatically reduce foreclosures remains to be seen, but there is no doubting their good intentions. Around one in five US homeowners are in negative equity, which means that they owe their lenders more than their houses are worth. It sure is a pretty miserable situation, but then again who would like to see house price inflation take off to anything likes the dizzy heights it previously reached?

Dissenters of the plan may be pleased to know that you don't have to be behind with your mortgage payments to qualify for help. However, borrowers will have to prove that they have suffered financial hardship by way of losing a job etc. The outstanding loan balance must be greater than the value of the home, so we're back to negative equity!

Some of those who don't qualify as above may take advantage of another tier. This part of the mortgage package could affect up to a further 5 million homebuyers, who are finding it tough going, without being seriously behind with mortgage repayments. It is aimed at Fannie and Freddie connected mortgages, and allows successful participants to take advantage of more affordable mortgages, such as fixed rate deals.

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There are also to be tax credits for some first time buyers who purchase a home in 2009. So, there are millions of Americans who could benefit from the "Making Homes Affordable" program. There are many who may find it difficult to determine whether they qualify for help or not, and the program is certainly more complicated than mentioned here. However, there are vast sums of public money involved, and a seemingly genuine desire to help. There will be plenty of advisers who will be familiar with all details of the plan. So the best advice to anyone who is affected is "IF IN DOUBT ASK".


Mortgage Cramdowns and Bankruptcy

By a vote of 234 to 191 the House recently passed a bill for housing related initiatives, including the controversial issue of allowing judges at bankruptcy proceedings, to modify the terms of home mortgages.

Under the bill, bankruptcy judges would be empowered not only to cut the interest rate and extend mortgage terms, but to reduce the principle as well. These provisions, known as cramdowns are not popular with everybody, as many people who have kept their mortgage payments up to date, see themselves as bailing out those who have not managed their affairs so well. Representatives are aware of this and are wary about how it could affect voting patterns.

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It seems that the banks also opposed the cramdowns. Apparently, they anticipated increased losses, as a result of a stampede of homeowners taking advantage of favorable bankruptcy terms, to reduce their liabilities. But the Obama administration is staking $75 billion to stem foreclosures, including making the mortgages of troubled homeowners more affordable. There are proposals for the banks to receive government funding, to recompense them for the cost of mortgages, reduced at the bankruptcy proceedings.

The proposed cramdowns remain complicated as well as controversial with various proposals being suggested. For instance, it has been muted that if a beneficiary of a bankruptcy-reduced mortgage was later to dispose of the property at a profit, the gain should be shared with the lender.

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Vast sums of government, (taxpayers) money, are being allocated to reduce or contain the number of foreclosures, and give a much-needed boost to the housing market. The current recession is affecting just about everybody, and even the doubters may concede that drastic times need drastic measures.


Fixed Rate Mortgage Opportunity

With interest rates at historically low levels it may be a good time to think about a fixed rate mortgage.

The most popular term for a fixed rate mortgage has been two years. But there is a case for seeking a longer term fixed rate mortgage, and not just to avoid recurrent arrangement fees. Low interest rates, below 5% are available in some instances, although it may be that substantial deposits are required.

It seems unlikely that mortgage interest rates will fall much further. It must be remembered that in the present economic climate investors are suffering, and there may be a limit to what they are prepared to endure, as low returns clobber their livelihoods.

There is an old adage that, 'if you don't ask, you don't get'. So, those whose fixed mortgage deals are coming to an end , could do well to talk to their loan providers, about a fixed rate for a longer term. They could discuss the advantage of as favorable a mortgage rate as is available, coupled with a saving on the recurrent fees.

The other side of the coin is that as house prices are still falling, it doesn't seem like a good time for first time buyers to get involved. However, it appears that for those with existing mortgages there could be fixed rate mortgage deals worth shopping around for.


Will President Obama and Prime Minister Brown Discuss Mortgage Crisis

President Barack Obama is due to meet UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week, and there is no doubt that global financial problems will be high on the agenda. It is thought that the President will be appreciative of the Prime Minister's experience of financial matters, during his long period as the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, which is the equivalent of the United States Treasury Secretary.

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There are sure to be many people, suffering from the effect of the global financial crises, including those struggling to meet their mortgage payments, who will be hoping that something useful emerges from the meeting. The situation is as bad in Europe, as in the US, and it is generally agreed that it will take a united effort by many nations to turn things round.

In the meantime it has recently been reported in Yahoo Business News Citigroup have introduced measures to allow some unemployed homeowners to temporarily reduce their mortgage payments.

Citigroup to allow jobless to cut mortgage payments

"Citigroup Inc said on Tuesday it will allow some newly unemployed homeowners to temporarily reduce payments on their mortgages.

The bank will lower payments for three months to an average of $500 per month for certain borrowers who lost their jobs and are at least 60 days delinquent. It plans to work case-by-case with borrowers who are still unemployed after that time.

While Citigroup said thousands of borrowers may be eligible, the program is likely to make only a small dent in the ranks of distressed borrowers as unemployment rises and housing prices extend their declines.

Citigroup's program is limited to people who have mortgages that are owned and serviced by CitiMortgage, and excludes the 4.3 million mortgages that Citigroup services but does not own. Qualified borrowers must live in their homes, and in general must have loans no larger than $417,500."

The Citigroup program seems to support President Barack Obama's plan to reduce mortgage payments for millions of struggling homebuyers. Many people in the UK will hope that this kind of assistance becomes available to them, as Banks bailed out with £billions of taxpayers money start lending again.

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