When I first heard of HAUP, I was excited, but my excitement quickly turned to disappointment. Among other problems, it requires that unemployed homeowners go through a fairly bureaucratic procedure to apply for what is (more or less) three months forbearance. And that' s merely the application; forbearance may or may not be granted for the 3 months. Remember, at the present time, the AVERAGE duration of unemployment is 9 months and rising.
(The fine print says you can extend beyond 3 months, but it's not clear that will happen, and will certainly not be clear to potential applicants).
The website's FAQs does not even tell people if the differences between the original payments and the reduced payments, are forgiven, or wrapped into the loan. (When I inquired of the experts in Washington, it turns out part of the loan is forborne, adding to the loan amount, but it’s amazing that they ask people to apply without clearly explaining such a key element of the program!)
What if your unemployment lasts more than three months (which is true for most unemployed today?) After two months you are given an application for HAMP, the dog that won't hunt. As far as I can tell, most unemployed will still not qualify for HAMP after they fill out this application.
There are other details that limit the program’s scope, and hence its effectiveness at halting the skid in housing prices. Homeowners can't get relief on the second liens. And if I read it right, HAUP does nothing for the unemployed not receiving unemployment insurance.
My bottom line: Treasury is still spitting on the fire and leaving the hoses coiled up.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Steve Malpezzi is not happy