(Update 1: A previous version of this article stated the Flex Modification foreclosure prevention program replaced HARP. The article is now updated to say it replaced HAMP only)
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced on Wednesday their replacement for the Home Affordable Modification Program. The government sponsored enterprises revealed the Flex Modification foreclosure prevention program, which is designed to help America’s families by offering reductions to their monthly mortgage payments.
The government's Home Affordable Modification Program is slated to end on Dec. 31, 2016, concluding a seven-year government program designed to save struggling homeowners who are behind on their mortgage, or in danger of imminent default due to financial hardship.
HAMP’s sibling, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which was created at the same time, was extended in August until Sept. 30, 2017 in order to create a smoother transition period for a new refinance product.
“The new Flex Modification announced by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) today was designed based on lessons learned from crisis-era loan modification programs to help borrowers stay in their homes and avoid foreclosures whenever possible,” the FHFA said in a statement.
The Flex Modification also reflects input received over the course of extensive engagement with lenders, mortgage insurers, consumer advocates, and other stakeholders, the statement adds. By avoiding the high costs associated with foreclosures, the Flex Modification will result in significant savings for the Enterprises and taxpayers, the FHFA said, and it will provide borrowers who face permanent hardships with a sustainable modification.
“The Flex Modification is an adaptive program that will allow us to continue to assist struggling homeowners in a changing housing environment and simplify the process for servicers to deliver those solutions,” said Bill Cleary, Vice President of Single-Family Servicing Policy, Fannie Mae. “We believe the program is flexible to adjust for regional and even local differences in housing. It provides the greatest amount of assistance to those areas in need.”
This new modification will replace the current Fannie Mae Standard and Streamlined Modification offerings on and after Oct. 1, 2017. In the interim, Servicers must continue to evaluate borrowers for Standard and Streamlined Modifications following the evaluation hierarchy.
"We're proud to announce the Flex Modification program, a carefully considered and transparent alternative for homeowners who want to avoid foreclosure in today's post-crisis mortgage environment," said David Lowman, executive vice president of Freddie Mac's Single-Family Business. "We believe it strikes the appropriate balance between borrower relief and economic responsibility."