The Federal Reserve will take aggressive action to renegotiate mortgages that are likely to enter foreclosure, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke said in a letter to Congress Tuesday.
Under the program, which only affects mortgages owned by the Fed, the central bank will be able to reduce what a home owner owes on a mortgage, lower the interest rate, lengthen the term on the loan, or take other steps that might persuade home owners to keep paying. Borrowers will deal directly with their mortgage servicer.
The Fed says that the mortgages most likely to be affected are those with loan balances that are more than 125 percent of estimated value of the property.
"It's a step beyond what FDIC is doing with its own portfolio," said mortgage expert Alan White, an assistant professor at Valparaiso University School of Law. "Principal write-downs are still the critical issue" in keeping borrowers in their homes.
Source: Washington Post, Neil Irwin and Renae Merle (01/28/2009)