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RISMEDIA, July 24, 2009-As unemployment and home foreclosures continue to rise and threaten the economic recovery, the mortgage insurance industry is stepping up its ongoing efforts to keep families in their homes. The industry has been at the forefront in developing systems and procedures to support the U.S. Treasury’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Since the release of the details of the HARP and HAMP programs earlier this year, mortgage insurers, lenders and servicers have been working together to implement this important initiative. While these programs are in their early stages, initial results have been encouraging.

In partnership with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs), the mortgage insurance industry is working alongside servicers to modify or refinance troubled loans under the HARP and HAMP programs. In addition, mortgage insurers have developed back-up underwriting capabilities and standardized reporting systems to provide distressed homeowners a “second look” if they have been turned down for a loan modification on a non-GSE loan.

“It is more vital than ever for the housing finance industry to do its part to create stability in the marketplace,” said Kevin D. Schneider, president of Mortgage Insurance Companies of America (MICA). “MICA’s members are working closely with borrowers, lenders, investors, credit counselors and government agencies to modify or refinance existing loans to make them more affordable,” he noted. “In 2008 alone, mortgage insurers, working with servicers, were able to save almost 100,000 people from losing their homes. The total sum of those mortgage workouts was nearly $18 billion.”

“Mortgage insurers are pulling out all the stops to help stem the tide of foreclosures,” said Suzanne C. Hutchinson, executive vice president of MICA. “Our member companies are working closely with servicers and both GSEs to implement the Obama administration’s HARP and HAMP programs and keep people in their homes. We are prepared to complete an increasing number of loan workouts in the coming months in support of these programs.”

The interests of borrowers, mortgage insurers and investors are aligned because unnecessary foreclosures harm everyone; families lose their home, the mortgage insurer pays a claim and the investor has a financial loss. However, when every alternative is exhausted and a foreclosure cannot be avoided, mortgage insurers stand ready to pay all valid claims.

MICA’s members have also adopted the recently announced GSE guideline changes that allow up to 125% loan-to-value ratios for refinancing mortgages that are HARP eligible. That higher LTV level will help more troubled borrowers refinance into a loan with a lower monthly payment.

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