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Holiday Surprise from Fannie and Freddie: Foreclosures Suspended until January

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RISMEDIA, Nov. 24, 2008-As December approaches, the saying “home for the holidays” may hold more meaning to those facing foreclosure right now, and that spirit, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have announced a suspension on foreclosures and evictions through January of 2009.

The two mortgage giants have issued a notice to its loan servicing organizations and retained foreclosure attorneys directing them to suspend foreclosure sales on occupied single-family properties as well as the completion of evictions from occupied single-family properties scheduled to occur from November 26, 2008 until January 9, 2009. The effort was made to support the streamlined modification program that was announced on Nov. 11.

The suspension will help servicers implement the Streamlined Modification Program recently announced by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), HOPE Now and 27 mortgage servicers, scheduled to launch December 15.. The temporary suspension is also expected to give servicers more time to help borrowers avoid foreclosure.

Fannie’s streamlined modification program is aimed at the highest risk borrower who has missed three payments or more, owns and occupies the primary residence, and has not filed for bankruptcy. The program creates a fast-track method for getting troubled borrowers into an affordable monthly payment through a mix of reducing the mortgage interest rate, extending the life of the loan or even deferring payments on part of the principal. Servicers have flexibility in the approach, but the objective is to create a more affordable payment for borrowers at risk of foreclosure.

Freddie Mac servicers and foreclosure attorneys were told to contact as quickly as possible an estimated 6,000 borrowers with foreclosure sales scheduled between November 26, 2008 and January 9, 2009. If the property is occupied, the servicers and foreclosure attorneys will halt the sale. This temporary suspension of foreclosure sales will not apply to vacant single family properties. Additionally, no evictions will be completed between November 26 and January 9.

“The streamlined modification program by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Hope Now and 27 mortgage servicers is an important step forward in addressing the systemic issues driving the increase in foreclosures,” said Fannie Mae President and Chief Executive Officer Herb Allison. “Until the streamlined modification program is fully implemented, we felt it was in the best interest of both borrowers and Fannie Mae to take this extra step to ensure that homeowners with the desire and ability to prevent a foreclosure have an opportunity to stay in their homes. We encourage other servicers of non-GSE mortgages to participate in the streamlined modification program to bolster our collective efforts to stem the foreclosure crisis.”

“By working closely with FHFA and our servicers, Freddie Mac is on track to help three out of every five troubled borrowers with Freddie Mac-owned loans avoid foreclosure this year,” said Freddie Mac Chief Executive Officer David M. Moffett. “Today’s announcement builds on this momentum and provides a new measure of certainty to many of these families during the holidays.”

Moffett also emphasized that lenders servicing Freddie Mac-owned mortgages will continue to work with borrowers to consider all workout options Freddie Mac employs to help distressed borrowers who can and want to stay in their homes, such as permanent rate reductions and mortgage term extension modifications.

This year, Freddie Mac expects to approve 84,000 workouts for the estimated 140,000 who are delinquent on Freddie Mac-owned mortgages. (For more about Freddie Mac workout options, see freddiemac.com/avoiding_foreclosure.)

Freddie Mac’s temporary suspension of foreclosure sales is the latest in a series of efforts to help troubled borrowers. Other recent initiatives have included, delegating expanded workout authority to servicers, doubling the amount of money servicers are paid for successful workouts, and paying non-profit organizations to reach out to worried borrowers.

Fannie Mae will be working with foreclosure attorneys and servicers to reach out to the more than 10,000 borrowers the company estimates would be affected during this period. Borrowers who have Fannie Mae loans that are scheduled for foreclosure between November 26, 2008 and January 9, 2009, will be contacted directly by the attorney handling the foreclosure. If the home is occupied, Fannie Mae has instructed servicers and attorneys to suspend the foreclosure.

Allison also said Fannie Mae’s loan servicers are prepared to work with borrowers during this period, even if previous workout efforts have been unsuccessful. As part of the company’s “Second Look” initiative, Fannie Mae personnel have been reviewing seriously delinquent loans to determine if the borrower has been contacted and all workout options have been exhausted.

The streamlined modification program and temporary suspension of foreclosures are two of a series of steps Fannie Mae has taken to expand its foreclosure prevention efforts, which are designed to give loan servicers and foreclosure attorneys tools to find the best solution for a borrower in financial trouble. Fannie Mae and its many partners in the housing industry urge borrowers in financial difficulty to reach out to their loan servicers, regardless of whether they are facing imminent foreclosure. Solutions may be available that could make an existing mortgage more affordable.

“Fannie Mae is committed to working with FHFA to implement the streamlined modification program as quickly as possible to help prevent unnecessary foreclosures,”

Allison said. “We must and will do more.”

Fannie Mae exists to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market. Fannie Mae has a federal charter and operates in America’s secondary mortgage market to enhance the liquidity of the mortgage market by providing funds to mortgage bankers and other lenders so that they may lend to home buyers. In 2008, we mark our 70th year of service to America’s housing market. Our job is to help those who house America.

Freddie Mac was established by Congress in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation’s residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities across the nation by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Over the years, Freddie Mac has made home possible for one in six homebuyers and more than five million renters.

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