B of A tries turning distressed homeowners into renters

Unable to qualify for modifications on Bank of America mortgages, a few of California’s most distressed homeowners are being offered one last chance to stay in their homes: Become renters instead.

Testing a mortgage-to-lease program in the Golden State, Bank of America Corp. sent 300 letters this week inviting borrowers without other options to apply. An additional 1,500 letters will go out in the next few weeks as BofA — which also is testing the program in three other states — evaluates whether a national rollout is feasible.

BofA plans to sell the homes to investors. It typically would recoup far less than what’s owed but would come out far ahead compared with where it would be after evicting borrowers, making “cash for keys” payments to help them move and selling empty and often vandalized foreclosures in the troubled housing market.

Click to view more

New guidelines are a tall order for short sales

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued new guidelines designed to speed up short sales and make them more consistent, but real estate agents question whether they are achievable in the real world.

In a short sale, a lender agrees to accept less than the amount owed on a property and release its lien.

Under the new guidelines, which take effect June 15, servicers have 30 days to review and respond to short sale offers or requests. If they need more than 30 days, they must provide the borrower weekly updates and a final response within 60 days.

If the borrower is requesting a short sale under the government’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative program, the clock starts ticking when the borrower submits a completed borrower response package requesting consideration of a short sale.

Read more