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Qualified entities interested in purchasing pools of severely distressed loans formerly insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) can now submit applications for the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program, an expansion of an FHA disposition program that sells pools of defaulted mortgages headed for foreclosure and provides the opportunity for the purchaser and borrower to avoid a costly foreclosure.

According to loan pool information released recently, approximately 3,500 loans will be sold in four metropolitan areas that are among those hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis – Chicago, Ill.; Newark, N.J.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Tampa, Fla. – aligning with other neighborhood stabilization efforts to help those communities recover as quickly as possible. The program is part of the Obama Administration’s broader strategy to encourage public/private partnerships to stabilize neighborhoods and home values in critical markets. Details on the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program can be found at www.hud.gov/fhaloansales.

“The housing market has momentum not seen since before the crisis,” says HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “But some metro areas are still under pressure and some FHA borrowers remain seriously behind on their loans and stand to lose their homes in a matter of months. As one step towards avoiding unnecessary foreclosures and further stabilizing communities, we are increasing the number of loans beyond our original goals of 5,000 per quarter to approximately 9,000 this quarter. Providing the opportunity for borrowers to potentially stay in their home under a new sustainable mortgage or other meaningful help not only benefits that homeowner but reduces the costs to FHA and ultimately benefits the entire community.”

Under the program, loans are sold competitively at a market-determined price generally below the outstanding principal balance. FHA then processes an insurance claim, removes the FHA insurance and transfers the loan to the investor. Once the note is purchased, foreclosure is delayed for a minimum of six additional months, giving the new servicer time to work through alternatives with the borrower, possibly finding an affordable solution to allow the borrower to remain in their home. Because the loans are generally sold for less than what the borrower currently owes, the purchaser has the ability to reduce or modify the loan terms while still making a return on the initial investment. If no viable alternatives exist, the purchaser may be able to help the borrower sell the property through a short sale and avoid the costs of foreclosure.

“This program creates the opportunity for everyone – the homeowner, the new mortgage holder, FHA, and the community – to walk away a winner,” says Acting FHA Commissioner Carol Galante. “FHA not only avoids the costs associated with a long foreclosure process, but also the high costs of maintaining and selling vacant properties in already distressed markets.”

FHA began selling distressed single family loans through what is now the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program in 2010 and has successfully sold more than 2,100 single family loans to date. An FHA-approved mortgagee can file a claim for FHA insurance benefits and assign the loan to FHA if the borrower is at least six months delinquent on their mortgage; the servicer has exhausted all steps in the FHA loss mitigation process; the servicer has initiated foreclosure proceedings; and the borrower is not in bankruptcy. These assigned loans are then pooled by FHA for resale through the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program.

For more information, visit www.hud.gov.

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