Lance Churchull writes:
“One thing I have wondered about in the past is why the two government-sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, found it necessary to have different rules for short sales, but then I remembered that the “G” in GSE stood for government and, of course, the government usually makes things more complicated than they should be. Well, on April 28, 2011, the Federal Housing Financing Agency (FHFA), which has been overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since their near financial collapse, decided it would be better if they had uniform rules for delinquent mortgages. The FHFA has directed that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac align their guidelines for servicing delinquent mortgages they own or guarantee with the stated purpose of creating an updated framework that will establish uniform servicing requirements for how delinquent mortgages are handled, including the short sale process. The director of FHFA said, “Once fully implemented, the enterprises’ aligned policies will require earlier contact, more frequent communication and prompt decisions.”

The aligned guidelines will also govern the “dual track” foreclosure process by requiring the servicers to immediately contact delinquent borrowers in an effort to resolve a delinquency. The foreclosure process may not commence if the borrower and the servicer are engaged in a good faith effort to solve the delinquency. In the event that the property is referred to foreclosure, financial incentives would be provided to encourage the servicers to help continue the borrowers pursue a foreclosure alternative such as a short sale.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae must issue the new guidelines to their servicers on or before September 30, 2011. Having reviewed the actual and very detailed servicing announcements by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that seems like an awfully long time to implement the new rules. However, given the fact it took Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac eight months to implement a HAFA program that was nearly the same as the Treasury Department’s program, I guess it is reasonable for them to take five months to align their loss mitigation rules.

One of the new policies that agents will like is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will have the same borrower package for borrowers to be considered for all workout and foreclosure avoidance solutions, including HAMP modifications and short sales. When the borrower’s package is received, it is required that at the beginning of the process there be a simultaneous evaluation of borrowers for both the HAMP and HAFA programs. An additional new standard that agents will applaud is that there will be a uniform case escalation process which requires acknowledgement of an escalation request within three business days after receipt and adherence to a 30-day maximum total time to resolve an escalated case.

Since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sales constitute a large portion of the short sale market, new uniform short sale guidelines and procedures for non-HAFA short sales would certainly be welcomed by the real estate industry. Let’s hope that the new guidelines, when they are issued, will actually simplify and expedite the process, and that the servicers will effectively implement the new rules. Stay tuned for updates on this topic, but don’t hold your breath in anticipation of seeing the newly aligned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sale rules very soon.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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