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Federal program eases refinancing of underwater home mortgages

Many South Carolina homeowners struggle to make their monthly house payments as their property value is less than what they owe on their home loan. People in this situation often face difficulty with mortgage refinancing as they try to lower their interest rates and monthly payments. Fortunately, a federal program designed to make the refinancing process easier will soon come into effect.

According to federal housing officials, many homeowners looking to refinance their mortgage are deterred by the fees associated with the process. In their view, these fees often equal what a homeowner would save by refinancing. Beginning next month, those who have a Federal Housing Administration loan will face a new set of rules devised to streamline refinancing.

One of the primary changes includes lower fees for those who have FHA loans assigned before May 2009. This will remove one of the biggest barriers to those looking to refinance. Additionally, a limited amount of documentation will be required to refinance under the new program, which will not require an appraisal of the home. This allows families with an underwater mortgage to proceed with refinancing, even though their property value has dropped significantly.

Though this program could benefit financially-strapped South Carolina families, many will still not qualify for the program, even though refinancing their property could be tremendously beneficial. Those who are looking to refinance their mortgage, but face significant hurdles, may want to consider all of their options. Many aspects of a refinancing transaction can be negotiated to suit your needs, including the loan's terms, interest rate and associated closing costs.

The important thing to remember is that there are options to help you deal with an "upside down" piece of real estate. Even if refinancing is not a viable option, you may be able to explore other options, such as a short sale. This way, you will be able to mitigate financial losses and protect your financial health.

Source: The Examiner, "Refinance your FHA Mortgage regardless of your appraised value or loan amount," Michael Richardson, May 20, 2012

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