While the Obama administration may be pondering the idea of helping underwater homeowners through principal write-downs, Federal Housing Finance Agency
Director Edward DeMarco said there is no current consideration for principal write-downs on underwater home loans.
DeMarco told C-SPAN
in an interview that the FHFA has already assisted borrowers through principal forbearance programs and loan modification tools that have helped borrowers reduce their monthly payments. He said the other balance the FHFA has to strike is making sure home aid efforts do not afflict taxpayers with additional losses since public funds hold up the quasi-federal housing agencies. He placed write-downs on principal in this camp and suggested the FHFA is not going in that direction.
"Principal forgiveness does not accomplish our conservator mandate," DeMarco said on C-SPAN while speaking to reporters from Reuters and The Wall Street Journal. He added,"the borrower still has a responsibility and an obligation for the repayment of the loan."
DeMarco said the FHFA sees the next housing initiative being one that focuses on offloading GSE properties to investors who can buy the REO properties in bulk and turn them into rental properties.
To date, the FHFA has received 4,000 comments from interested parties who submitted feedback on the proposed REO bulk sales program.
"Now that we have the HARP announcement out, we are turning to this as the next priority," he said.
The FHFA said earlier this month that it would lower
barriers to refinancing, allowing more underwater borrowers to qualify for the government's HARP refinancing program.
Write to Kerri Panchuk