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RISMEDIA, Dec. 19, 2007-The recent agreement by federal regulators and mortgage lenders to freeze interest rates for five years on certain subprime, adjustable rate mortgage loans is intended to help many homeowners avoid foreclosure.

However, for homeowners who have missed mortgage payments and may not qualify for the program, working with a credit counseling agency will allow them to explore alternatives to foreclosure, more commonly known as “workout solutions.”

“The agreement announced in early December is an effort to help people with adjustable rate loans stay in their homes,” said Suzanne Boas, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta, Inc. “However, most of the people who are turning to us for help are currently delinquent on their loans, having missed payments for a variety of reasons, ranging from reduced income to large medical expenses. We are working every day to find ways to help these families stay in their homes, too.”

Under the agreement announced Dec. 6, borrowers with interest rates scheduled to adjust between January 2008 and July 2010, who are no more than 60 days late and would be unable to afford their new mortgage payments can have their rates frozen for five years.

At CCCS of Greater Atlanta, Inc., certified housing counselors work with homeowners to analyze their current financial situation, communicate with their mortgage lender and outline a variety of options that may allow them to keep their home. If the homeowner has the desire to stay in their home, there are four common plans that CCCS counselors typically explore with their lenders.

Here are four recommended options:

Repayment Plan — This is the most common workout plan for any household that is 1-3 months delinquent on their mortgage payment.

Under this scenario, a homeowner sends in their normal payment plus an additional amount each month that is agreed upon by the mortgage lender. Repayment terms typically span from 3-24 months and the terms of the loan are not changed.

Loan Modification — A loan modification is a written agreement between the servicer and homeowner that changes one or more of the original loan terms, such as the interest rate, term of the loan or type of mortgage.

Under a loan modification, the monthly payment often is not reduced, though the interest rate usually will not “reset” to a higher rate or will be rolled back to the initial rate. This can be a solution for a family with an adjustable rate loan where the rate has recently increased, or is about to increase.

Forbearance — A forbearance is similar to a repayment plan, but this agreement usually applies to people who have experienced a major financial setback, such as one-time medical expenses or a temporary loss of income. The borrower must be able to prove that they have a new job or a new source of income to resume making their regular monthly payments in the future

A forbearance allows the homeowner to send in no payment or a reduced payment for a collected during the plan by either doing a reinstatement, a repayment plan, or a loan modification.

Partial Claim (FHA) — In effect, this is a second loan for anyone with a loan guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The mortgage loan is brought up to date by securing up to 12 months of past due principle, interest, taxes and insurance in a separate, interest free note that is payable when the original mortgage is paid off.

To qualify, a homeowner must be at least 4 months delinquent on their mortgage loan, but no more than 12 months. The new loan enables them to pay off the amount they are “in arrears” and immediately brings their mortgage loan up to date. There are no extra payments or extra interest. A lien is placed on the home and the amount needed to make the loan current is deducted when the home is sold.

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