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Marino on Money: August 12

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This week we are talking about foreclosures. The first half of 2009 brought another rise in foreclosure filings in spite of all the government help and loan modifications by lenders. If someone is facing foreclosure, what should he or she do? Here are some options.

1. Refinance: Even if your home is underwater, or worth less than you owe, you may still be able to refinance. Under President Obama’s Making Home Affordable program, there are two refinancing options.

A. 125% option. You may borrow up to 125% of the current appraised value of your home.

B. Loan modification program. The goal of this program is to lower the PITI, or principal, interest, property taxes, and property insurance to 31% of your gross monthly income. Lenders may modify your loan by lowering your interest rate, or extending the term of your mortgage. The rate could be as low as 2%, and the term could be extended to 40 years.

2. Tap your emergency funds and retirement accounts. Unfortunately, many borrowers have already spent down any available funds. If not, consider using these funds to refinance or modify your loan before all of the money is gone.

When considering these options, be realistic. Can you either increase your income or lower your expenses to make a modification work? You will need to know that before you contact your lender. Please understand these options are not available to everyone. For more information, you
May visit www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.

What if refinancing or a loan modification is not an option? I will address that Thursday.

If you have a financial question for Ross, you can use the Marino on Money page.

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Foreclosure is becoming more common in this economy and it can be a very scary thing. In Wednesday’s Marino on Money segment, Ross looks at some strategies that might help.

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