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President Obama outlines mortgage refinancing plan

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 2/15/2012, 7:15 p.m.
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During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said he'd "give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low rates." Last week marked the beginning of that plan being put into action, as the president unveiled a new proposal that would make it easier for Americans to refinance their mortgages and asked Congress to act quickly.

"What this plan will do is help millions of responsible homeowners who make their payments on time but find themselves trapped under falling home values or wrapped in red tape," he said during a speaking engagement in Falls Church, Va. "If you're ineligible for refinancing just because you're underwater on your mortgage through no fault of your own, this plan changes that. You'll be able to refinance at a lower rate, you'll be able to save hundreds of dollars a month that you can put back in your pocket. Or you can choose those savings to rebuild equity in your homes, which will help most underwater homeowners come back up for air more quickly."

The president also introduced what he called the "Homeowners Bill of Rights," which asks for simpler mortgages without hidden fees, adds guidelines so conflicts of interest don't hurt homeowners, supports families who keep up with payments and gives families protection against inappropriate foreclosures.

"One straightforward set of commonsense rules of the road that every family knows they can count on when they're shopping for a mortgage," Obama said in describing the Homeowners Bill of Rights." No more getting the runaround when you call about your loan. No more fine print that you use to get families to take a deal that are not as good as the one they should have gotten."

What remains to be seen is if the plan has teeth and will make a difference, because the plan wouldn't reduce homeowners' outstanding principal amount, it would just help them service it better.