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Bill Aimed at Helping Underwater Homeowners Gains Support

The Helping Responsible Homeowners Act (S. 170), which aims to help underwater homeowners refinance their loans at historically low interest rates, is gaining support.


""Sen. Barbara Boxer"":http://boxer.senate.gov/ (D-California) says her bill, which was introduced in January, is now being co-sponsored by ""Sen. Johnny Isakson"":http://isakson.senate.gov/ (R-Georgia) who previously ran one of the largest independent real estate brokerages in the country.

The Helping Responsible Homeowners Act would eliminate current barriers blocking millions of non-delinquent homeowners from refinancing their mortgages at historically low interest rates.

The refinancing options ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/kb/index?page=home and ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/ currently offer these homeowners come with high, up-front, risk-based fees - up to two percent of the loan amount - making them largely unpopular.


The proposed legislation would eliminate these fees for loans for which ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/kb/index?page=home and ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/ already bear the risk.

The bill also aims to remove refinancing limits on underwater mortgages and allow these homeowners to receive interest rates comparable to other borrowers.

While mortgage rates remain historically low - below 5 percent - more than 8 million homeowners with loans guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie maintain rates at or above 6 percent.

Several industry groups and professionals have also endorsed the bill, including the ""National Association of Mortgage Brokers"":http://www.namb.org/namb/Default.asp, the National Consumer Law Center, the ""California Association of Realtors"":http://www.car.org/, the ""California Association of Mortgage Professionals"":http://www.ca-amp.org/ William Gross, managing director and co-CIO of ""PIMCO"":http://www.pimco.com/Pages/default.aspx, and housing economist Thomas Lawler.

""The time to help struggling homeowners is now â€" while interest rates remain at near-historic lows,"" Boxer said in a press conference call.

""This legislation would help millions of responsible homeowners who are making their payments, but are still struggling to make ends meet,"" she continued. By helping these homeowners refinance at lower rates, we will put thousands of dollars back in the pockets of families and strengthen our economy.""

Ronald Phipps, president of the ""National Association of Realtors"":http://www.realtor.org/ also spoke in strong support of the bill. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics was also on the press conference call.

About Author: Krista Franks Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.

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