Lend America Gets Autonomous with Hope

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) completed the review period for Lend America, allowing the lender to exercise some autonomy in granting government-insured refinance mortgages for delinquent or at-risk borrowers. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-approved lender now has Hope for Homeowners (H4H) direct endorsement and can underwrite, close and insure FHA loans through the program without prior HUD review. H4H became effective Oct. 1, 2008 and allows lenders to refinance current or delinquent borrowers provided the first lien holder writes the loan down to less than the home’s current value and waives any late fees or prepayment penalties. FHA then insures the new loan and subordinate lien holders share in future appreciation of the loan. The program might look good on paper, but in practice it had a slow start. HousingWire first reported on the fewer than 50 applications under the program in its first weeks. Mid-tier lenders told us they found themselves shut out of the program when the investors they worked with on a consistent basis were unwilling to buy the loans. But the slow start didn’t deter Lend America from formally launching its participation in mid-October. “Despite some early obstacles with the H4H program, Lend America did not abandon this important solution to the housing crisis, but has taken a leadership role and is committed to saving 10,000 homeowners from foreclosure and allows families to remain in their homes on affordable terms,” chief business strategist Michael Ashley says today in a media statement. “We may have to extend our timeline,” he adds, “but this mission to Lend America is extremely important and with HUD’s approval we are moving full speed ahead to save one homeowner at a time.” The US Justice Department is reviewing as many as 50 loans made under H4H at Lend America, according to a report filed by Maurna Desmond of Forbes. Justice Department spokesperson Ian McCaleb told HousingWire he could neither confirm nor deny the report, while Lend America executives have yet to return inquiries. Write to Diana Golobay.

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