Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mortgage Fraud Bill Signed, Sealed & Delivered





Two bills designed to address some of the problems resulting from the economic crisis have been signed by President Obama. The first deals with mortgage fraud and the other with helping families who are involved in a foreclosure situation save their homes.

Look out rip-off artists, enforcers of the new mortgage fraud bill means serious business. Almost half a billion federal dollars has been authorized to spend on targeting charges of mortgage fraud. Agencies the likes of the Secret Service, U.S. Postal Service and HUD are all getting additional funding to increase their security measures.

The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act now sanctions the government to go after companies or individuals currently out of reach. Currently, an incidence of mortgage fraud can result in investigation, prosecution, civil penalties and prison time at a federal level, opposed to the prior gentler state penalties previously enforced. This new Act applies to all types of mortgage fraud, no matter how minor the offence.

In the past, these schemes defrauded home owners, realtors, lenders and builders out of billions of dollars each year. The FBI intends to send a message that mortgage fraud will not be tolerated and it is expected that offenders will receive stiff penalties in order to set an example to others.

The second bill, simply entitled, "Helping Families Save Their Homes Act," is intended to simplify the process for homeowners to receive foreclosure financing and modifications to existing loans. It also makes it easier for the lender to offer these types of options and hopefully prevent an impending foreclosure.

The new law also offers protection for renters who find themselves living in a home whose owners are facing foreclosure. Under the old rules, tenants would have to move immediately following foreclosure, now they have the option to continue renting for a term negotiated with the lender. This makes sense on so many levels. Now hundreds of families who otherwise would have found themselves on the street, still have homes. Lenders no longer have to deal with the problems associated with the upkeep of an empty home. Hopefully this will reduce occurrences of complete neighborhoods of foreclosed houses sitting vacant and facing ill repair and vandalism. In many cases, reliable tenants are happy to stay on and maintain the property.

The law provides additional homeless relief, makes better use of local organizations in this role, and allows them more latitude when allocating federal funds for assistance.

Part of the reason that mortgage fraud became so widespread was attributed to the lack of a single watchdog affiliation to oversee the the sketchy subprime loan offerings, underwriting and lending schemes. Instead there were a number of small agencies, each only seeing part of the problem, but no single unit had the power to actually deal with the issue as a whole. Currently, the Obama administration has a plan in the works to establish a single federal agency designed to watch over everyone involved; from the small brokers to the major lenders.

About the Author:

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