The Federal Housing Administration's nearly forgotten Hope for Homeowners program may get a jump start from an investor lined up by Bankers Portfolio LLC.
Created by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act in July 2008, the program allows for the refinancing of troubled mortgages into loans insured by the FHA after lenders write down principal amounts.
Joel Harrison, the founder of Bankers Portfolio, said the investor — whom he refused to identify — is willing to buy billions of dollars of Government National Mortgage Association securities backed by Hope for Homeowners loans.
He said he hopes his Irvine, Calif., firm can deliver $25 billion to $50 billion in Hope for Homeowners loans before the congressionally approved refinancing program sunsets in September 2011.
"We are really open to mortgage investors and asset managers contacting us," he said.
Harrison said he has arrangements with several originating servicers to refinance the loans.
Under the program, underwater mortgages must be written down to a 96.5% loan-to-value ratio based on a current appraisal with any subordinated liens being extinguished. (The Department of Housing and Urban Development is authorized to pay incentives to second-lien holders for releasing their liens.)
Harrison started his shop two years ago and said he believes mortgage holders are ready to accept such writedowns.
"An H4H refinancing can be completed in 45 days, with a 15% to 20% higher return than going through the foreclosure process, which can take eight to 10 months," he said.