New rules may limit foreclosures

In the last few years, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been selling many distressed mortgages to private investors instead of going through the process of foreclosure themselves. A number of people have complained that these investors have treated some homeowners roughly.

Now, new government rules have been issued that are designed to restrain investors and give homeowners more of a chance of staying put.

In general, investors must now make several attempts to keep the homeowner in the home before starting a foreclosure. These attempts may include consideration of extended loan terms, forgiveness of part of the principal, or a short sale.

If a foreclosure does occur, then for the first 20 days in which the property is marketed, the lender can only consider buyers who are nonprofit groups or who plan to live in the house themselves.

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