Five Brothers

August 04, 2006
CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or (703) 903-3933

McLean, VA – In the latest sign that Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) and the lending industry can support the Gulf Coast's post-hurricane repair and rebuilding efforts while gradually returning to normal business operations. The company today issued a Guide Bulletin to Seller/Servicers that modify a number of servicing and underwriting policies adopted after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

First, the August 4 bulletin gives lenders the authority to extend existing forbearances for up to an additional 90 days on a case-by-case basis once the year-old blanket foreclosure moratorium ends on August 31.

Lenders must still obtain Freddie Mac's prior approval before initiating any foreclosure actions and continue to provide relief options before pursuing a foreclosure, the bulletin says. The foreclosure moratorium applied to borrowers with Freddie Mac owned mortgages in the hardest hit Gulf Coast areas.

The new bulletin also extends a number of flexible underwriting policies to help borrowers whose incomes or credit were affected qualify for conforming, conventional Freddie Mac mortgages, including its Home Possible® suite of affordable mortgages.

"The blanket foreclosure moratorium and other relief policies we declared after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has helped thousands of borrowers with Freddie Mac-owned loans cope with the financial aftermath of those storms," explained Janet Eakes, senior vice president of Freddie Mac's operations division. "While there is still much to do to in the Gulf Coast, more and more of it can be done as part of our mission to keep America's housing finance system stable, liquid and affordable for America's lenders and borrowers."

Freddie Mac's hurricane policies apply only in major disaster areas declared by the President where FEMA individual assistance is available. To better support borrower and community recovery efforts Freddie Mac classifies Gulf Coast counties and parishes by their degree of storm damage and adjusts its policies accordingly. Zone One counties have minimal damage, Zone Two moderate damage and Zone Three severe damage. (See table below for list of counties and parishes by zone.)

In addition, the August 4 bulletin extends through December 31, 2006 several temporary policy changes that provide flexible loan-to-value ratios and underwriting flexibility for borrowers whose credit reputation and capacity were affected by the storms.

The bulletin also gives lenders until March 31, 2008 to deliver Home Possible® mortgages when the property is in an eligible disaster areas and the borrower earns more than the area's median income. Home Possible mortgages are targeted to borrowers earning up to their area median income, or higher income borrowers buying homes in underserved markets.

Freddie Mac is extending through November 30 its ban on reporting borrowers with storm related forbearance or repayment plans to credit bureaus. Freddie Mac is also extending its streamlined loan modification process designed to expedite workouts to help storm victims avoid foreclosure. This applies to borrowers with homes in all three Zones.

At the same time, Freddie Mac continues to encourage servicers to extend mortgage relief to borrowers with Freddie Mac loans on a case-by-case basis regardless of zone. Freddie Mac authorizes servicers to provide a wide range of mortgage relief to storm victims, including forbearance for up to one year from the date of the disaster. (Freddie Mac mortgage relief options are described in the "Owning and Keeping a Home" on freddiemac.com.)

For more information, lenders can contact their Freddie Mac Account Representative or find the August 4 Bulletin at www.freddiemac.com/sell/guide/bulletins.