President Obama Pushes A Plan To Help Homeowners [AUDIO]
President Obama wants to make it easier for millions of additional homeowners to refinance their mortgages - so they can take advantage of lower interest rates - even if their houses are "underwater" - where they owe more than their homes are worth.
He's urging Congress to expand the Home Affordable Refinance Program - so includes homeowners with privately held mortgages, as well as those backed by government-affiliated mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
The President says his proposal would allow all responsible homeowners to refinance, and save an average of 3 thousand dollars a year.
Patrick O'Keefe, the Director of Economic Research at JH Cohn, says "anything we can do to assist people who are current in their mortgage payments- to take advantage of these historically low rates - is to be encouraged - the difficulty is how do we finance that initiative - and what the administration is proposing is a fee paid by banks -whether that's politically feasible is for others to judge."
He says this might be a popular idea with a lot of people but "the banking system is in the process of recapitalizing because of the damage that was done to their balance sheets by credit crisis - which in part they were responsible for…it's always popular to spend other people's money, but in this case, imposing those fees may cause some lending institutions to cut back on their lending…none of this is cost free."
President Obama also wants lawmakers in Congress to adopt a Homeowners Bill of Rights - to help families understand what to look for when shopping for a mortgage.
Courtesy Associated Press