Will Obama s latest mortgage refinance plan help you? CBS News #mortgage #rates #today


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Will Obama’s latest mortgage refinance plan help you?

Will Obama’s mortgage refinance plan help you?

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research sits down with CBSNews.com deputy politics editor Corbett B. Daly to discuss the ins an.

President Obama on Monday announced new measures to help borrowers refinance their existing mortgages to new loans with lower interest rates and cheaper monthly payments.

The plan is an expansion of an existing program to help borrowers who are not behind on their payments but cannot refinance because they do not enough equity in their home. Or they might be underwater–which means they owe more than their home is worth.

“Right now, some underwater homeowners have no choice but to refinance with their original lender – which some lenders refuse to do,” Obama said in prepared remarks.

“These changes will encourage other lenders to compete for their business by offering better terms and rates, and eligible homeowners to shop around for the best ones,” he added.

But how many homeowners will it really help? And will it be enough to jumpstart the still struggling housing market?

Dean Baker is the Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research here in Washington, spoke with CBS News and said if 800,000 borrowers are able to refinance, that would be “very good.”

That would be a big help to those borrowers, but probably not enough to make much of a difference in the overall economy, he added.

Despite the relatively modest effect, Mr. Obama and his team recognize the president needs to be seen on television everyday as someone “trying to solve problems, said Larry Sabato, a politics professor at the University of Virginia.

“It’s a smart approach and long overdue,” Sabato said, noting that the administration is “out of time” as the presidential election is just a year away.

“They realize that Obama probably can’t get a Mother’s Day resolution passed through Congress,” so he has to move ahead with incremental measures that help pockets of Americans.

Housing analyst Edward Pinto stressed that the plan would mostly help borrowers who owe less than their mortgage, despite the repeated talked from White House officials that it is aimed at so-called “underwater” borrowers.

“I think it’s important not to get expectations up too high,” said Pinto, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a vocal critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored entities that are backing the loans eligible for refinance under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

Pinto noted close to a million borrowers have gotten a HARP refinance loan since it was introduced two years ago, but only about 100,000 of them were borrowers who owed more than their house is worth. Without the HARP program, borrowers would have to owe less than 80 percent of the loan’s value to refinance, so the majority of borrowers who got new HARP loans were in that 80 to 100 percent range, Pinto said.

Even with the expanded program, “they are not going to help a million” more underwater borrowers, Pinto added.

2011 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


How to refinance your underwater mortgage – CBS News #mortgage #calculator #free


#underwater mortgage help

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How to refinance your underwater mortgage

Underwater mortgages. or homes with negative equity, have been a major problem over the last several years. As recently as 2012, Zillow reported that 31.4 percent of homeowners with a mortgage (close to 16 million individuals) were underwater, owing $1.2 trillion more than the value of their homes.

Needless to say, borrowers in this situation are desperate to stay afloat.

There are several options available to homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth. If you are able to make your mortgage payments, but want to reduce them to a more affordable level, here is how to find out if you’re eligible to refinance your underwater mortgage and the steps you can take to obtain an affordable loan.

Is your mortgage underwater?

First, determine if you truly have an underwater mortgage. An underwater mortgage is defined as a loan for a home that is worth less than the current mortgage balance — also referred to as having negative equity. This occurs when a home loses value after it is purchased.

If your mortgage is, in fact, underwater and you want to refinance, you should be aware that it is no easy task.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)

For underwater mortgage borrowers with a solid payment history, HARP, part of the Making Home Affordable Program. might help refinance an underwater mortgage. According to its website, some of the qualifications that must be met to refinance are:

  • You are the owner-occupant of a one- to four-unit home.
  • The loan is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • At the time you apply, you are current on your mortgage payments.
  • The amount you owe on your first lien mortgage does not exceed 125 percent of the current market value of your property.

This is really the only way to refinance an underwater mortgage. As explained in an article in The Washington Post, “The refinancing program targets borrowers who are not in trouble on their mortgages now but, because they are underwater, are at risk of falling into trouble later.”

This means you can only refinance if you’re up-to-date on payments. If you have defaulted on your mortgage already, refinancing with HARP is not an option.

Steps to refinancing under HARP

It is important to note this program does not decrease the amount you owe — it only refinances the loan in order to make interest rates and monthly payments more affordable. Until more principal reduction programs are made available, refinancing usually means paying more for your home than it’s worth.

If you decide this is the route you want to take, be sure you meet the HARP eligibility requirements. You can find out if your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae by using the Loan Look Up or Freddie Mac with its Self-Service Look Up .

You can request a Home Affordable Modification on the Making Home Affordable website.


Who s Eligible For Obama s Mortgage Plan? CBS News #mortgage #calculators #with #taxes #and


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Who’s Eligible For Obama’s Mortgage Plan?

On Wednesday, President Obama laid out a $75 billion plan to help millions of Americans refinance their mortgages and avoid foreclosure. So who qualifies and how can you benefit?

Early Show financial adviser Ray Martin answered some questions from Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith as well as the public.

“Listening to the president yesterday, really two tiers of people they are seeking to help here. Explain who might get bailed out,” Smith said.

“There are two parts of the program — loan modification and loan refinancing. On loan modification, this is aimed at folks that are in dire straits. Their monthly mortgage payment far exceeds 31 percent of their pre-tax monthly income. It might be 50, 60, 70 percent of their income; it’s not sustainable to keep paying that. This provides government subsidies and incentives to financial institutions to chop down their interest rate, possibly lower their principal, even stretch out the mortgage to bring the monthly payment down to 31 percent of their pre-tax income,” Martin said.

“And the other group that is about to be helped are all these folks who are going under water,” Smith said.

“This is folks who are current on their payment. Their monthly payment is 31 percent or less of their pre-tax income. They’d like to refinance to take advantage of a 5 percent interest rate, but they can’t because the value of their home is at or slightly below what their mortgage is. So, the mortgage might be 105 percent of the value of the home and shrinking. They’d like to refinance, but for that obstacle, now those with underwater loans, slightly underwater or significant size loans can refinance and get that out of way,” Martin said.

“When will people be able to get a piece of paper and fill something out and be able to make this work for them?” Smith asked.

“According to the fact sheet released by the White House yesterday, the details of this program will be announced on March 4th, next month, and they’re going to be able to call their lender and say, ‘Am I eligible for a loan refinance or modification?’ In the meantime, get all the financial documents in order and get ready to call the lender,” Martin explained.

Martin also answered a few questions from the Early Show audience. To watch a video of the segment and that Q A, click the play button below:

Copyright 2009 CBS. All rights reserved.


Will Obama s latest mortgage refinance plan help you? CBS News #houston #mortgage #rates


#obama mortgage

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Will Obama’s latest mortgage refinance plan help you?

Will Obama’s mortgage refinance plan help you?

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research sits down with CBSNews.com deputy politics editor Corbett B. Daly to discuss the ins an.

President Obama on Monday announced new measures to help borrowers refinance their existing mortgages to new loans with lower interest rates and cheaper monthly payments.

The plan is an expansion of an existing program to help borrowers who are not behind on their payments but cannot refinance because they do not enough equity in their home. Or they might be underwater–which means they owe more than their home is worth.

“Right now, some underwater homeowners have no choice but to refinance with their original lender – which some lenders refuse to do,” Obama said in prepared remarks.

“These changes will encourage other lenders to compete for their business by offering better terms and rates, and eligible homeowners to shop around for the best ones,” he added.

But how many homeowners will it really help? And will it be enough to jumpstart the still struggling housing market?

Dean Baker is the Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research here in Washington, spoke with CBS News and said if 800,000 borrowers are able to refinance, that would be “very good.”

That would be a big help to those borrowers, but probably not enough to make much of a difference in the overall economy, he added.

Despite the relatively modest effect, Mr. Obama and his team recognize the president needs to be seen on television everyday as someone “trying to solve problems, said Larry Sabato, a politics professor at the University of Virginia.

“It’s a smart approach and long overdue,” Sabato said, noting that the administration is “out of time” as the presidential election is just a year away.

“They realize that Obama probably can’t get a Mother’s Day resolution passed through Congress,” so he has to move ahead with incremental measures that help pockets of Americans.

Housing analyst Edward Pinto stressed that the plan would mostly help borrowers who owe less than their mortgage, despite the repeated talked from White House officials that it is aimed at so-called “underwater” borrowers.

“I think it’s important not to get expectations up too high,” said Pinto, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a vocal critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored entities that are backing the loans eligible for refinance under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

Pinto noted close to a million borrowers have gotten a HARP refinance loan since it was introduced two years ago, but only about 100,000 of them were borrowers who owed more than their house is worth. Without the HARP program, borrowers would have to owe less than 80 percent of the loan’s value to refinance, so the majority of borrowers who got new HARP loans were in that 80 to 100 percent range, Pinto said.

Even with the expanded program, “they are not going to help a million” more underwater borrowers, Pinto added.

2011 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Mortgage Relief Program Released – CBS News #mortgage #home


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Mortgage Relief Program Released

The Obama administration is kicking off a new program designed to help up to 9 million borrowers stay in their homes through refinanced mortgages or loans that are modified to lower monthly payments.

The Treasury Department on Wednesday released detailed guidelines designed to let the lending industry know how to enroll borrowers in the program announced last month.

To help borrowers determine if they are eligible, the government has put answers to common questions and assessment tools on the Web site www.FinancialStability.gov .

“It is imperative that we continue to move with speed to help make housing more affordable and help arrest the damaging spiral in our housing markets,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.

“The housing program needs no approval by Congress — it starts now,” CBS News’ White House Correspondent Chip Reid reports. The White House says if you think you qualify, call your mortgage company. They warn callers to be patient because those companies are getting flooded with calls.

On Tuesday, key moderate Democrats in the House wrote a compromise to a housing bill that requires bankruptcy judges to consider whether banks offered homeowners reasonable loan restructuring deals before they weigh in with judicial remedies.

The new language is expected to ease the bill onto the House floor for a vote as early as Thursday.

“The concern is that we want to ensure that those people who get relief have tried other avenues,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. said Tuesday.

Borrowers also would have a responsibility to prove that they tried to modify their mortgages with their lenders before seeking help in bankruptcy court.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. one of the centrist negotiators on the bill, said homeowners in fear of losing their homes would have to show that they provided their financial documents to their lenders, “not just a phone call to an answering machine.”

The deal would require judges to consider whether homeowners were offered a “qualified” loan workout – defined as one that would set monthly payments equal to about one-third of a homeowner’s income.

Bankruptcy judges would have to deny a judicial mortgage adjustment in cases where the homeowner is deemed able to afford the loan.

The changes bring the legislation closer in line to what President Obama’s administration has sought and what the banking lobby finds acceptable. The mortgage industry has argued that unfettered access to bankruptcy court mortgage modifications would impose steep and unpredictable costs on its companies that would be passed along to borrowers as higher fees and interest rates.

Their opposition helped derail the bill last week, even after leading Democrats agreed to restrict it to people who had tried other means of reworking their mortgages and those who couldn’t afford their home loans.

The industry has “been giving it everything they’ve got,” said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C. an architect of the legislation. “They still have remarkable influence.”

Still, Miller and some other backers of the idea said they support the new plan.

“It would encourage lenders to make modifications and there would be consequences if they don’t do it,” Miller said.

Democrats discussed the compromise in a closed meeting Tuesday with Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan, who told them the legislation would dovetail with the administration’s overall efforts to reduce foreclosures. Obama unveiled a $75 billion housing initiative two weeks ago that included a call for legislation to permit adjustments to mortgages in bankruptcy court.

Following the session, Lofgren and two other moderate Democrats – Ellen Tauscher and Dennis Cardoza of California – circulated a letter seeking support for their compromise.

“Some may think the changes made to the bill go too far while others will contend that they do not go far enough,” the “Dear Colleague” letter said. “Given the ever-deepening housing crisis, however, we ask you to place such differences aside – as we have done – and support this effort.”

Some liberals said the new limits were inappropriate. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. said many mortgage companies make it impossible for homeowners to even complete a phone call to their lender, much less work out more affordable loan terms.

“I don’t think people ought to have to go through that mess” to get mortgage relief in bankruptcy courts, Waters said.

She said the banking industry still has a stranglehold on Congress. “These guys rule this place,” Waters said.

2009 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Will Obama s latest mortgage refinance plan help you? CBS News #business #mortgage #rates


#obama mortgage

#

Will Obama’s latest mortgage refinance plan help you?

Will Obama’s mortgage refinance plan help you?

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research sits down with CBSNews.com deputy politics editor Corbett B. Daly to discuss the ins an.

President Obama on Monday announced new measures to help borrowers refinance their existing mortgages to new loans with lower interest rates and cheaper monthly payments.

The plan is an expansion of an existing program to help borrowers who are not behind on their payments but cannot refinance because they do not enough equity in their home. Or they might be underwater–which means they owe more than their home is worth.

“Right now, some underwater homeowners have no choice but to refinance with their original lender – which some lenders refuse to do,” Obama said in prepared remarks.

“These changes will encourage other lenders to compete for their business by offering better terms and rates, and eligible homeowners to shop around for the best ones,” he added.

But how many homeowners will it really help? And will it be enough to jumpstart the still struggling housing market?

Dean Baker is the Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research here in Washington, spoke with CBS News and said if 800,000 borrowers are able to refinance, that would be “very good.”

That would be a big help to those borrowers, but probably not enough to make much of a difference in the overall economy, he added.

Despite the relatively modest effect, Mr. Obama and his team recognize the president needs to be seen on television everyday as someone “trying to solve problems, said Larry Sabato, a politics professor at the University of Virginia.

“It’s a smart approach and long overdue,” Sabato said, noting that the administration is “out of time” as the presidential election is just a year away.

“They realize that Obama probably can’t get a Mother’s Day resolution passed through Congress,” so he has to move ahead with incremental measures that help pockets of Americans.

Housing analyst Edward Pinto stressed that the plan would mostly help borrowers who owe less than their mortgage, despite the repeated talked from White House officials that it is aimed at so-called “underwater” borrowers.

“I think it’s important not to get expectations up too high,” said Pinto, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a vocal critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored entities that are backing the loans eligible for refinance under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

Pinto noted close to a million borrowers have gotten a HARP refinance loan since it was introduced two years ago, but only about 100,000 of them were borrowers who owed more than their house is worth. Without the HARP program, borrowers would have to owe less than 80 percent of the loan’s value to refinance, so the majority of borrowers who got new HARP loans were in that 80 to 100 percent range, Pinto said.

Even with the expanded program, “they are not going to help a million” more underwater borrowers, Pinto added.

2011 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Celebrity Plastic Surgery Disasters? Photo 1 – Pictures – CBS News #,pictures, #photos, #cbs #news


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Celebrity Plastic Surgery Disasters?

Plastic surgery doesn’t always turn out the way people want it to – and that’s true for celebrities as well as the rest of us.

Just take a look at these 14 A-listers – and what plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn, who writes the popular Celeb Cosmetic Surgery blog. has to say about each.

Credit: Getty Images

Kenny Rogers

“Kenny Rogers gambled with plastic surgery – and lost!” says Dr. Youn.

“I’m not happy about it,” the country crooner told People magazine in 2006 of a botched eyelid lift. “It drives me crazy.”

With his tight eyelids, he no longer looks like the scruffy, masculine man we knew in the 70’s, says Dr. Youn.

Credit: Getty Images

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers admits to having had lots of plastic surgery, including a facelift, neck lift, and eyelid surgery – and she makes no apologies. Some might say her “work” has been overdone, but who cares?

“She’s A Piece of Work (in a good way),” Dr. Youn says.

Credit: Getty Images

Donatella Versace

The first thing one notices about Donatella Versace is her overly plump upper lip. Natural lower lips tend to be about 50 percent larger than the upper lip. But in Versace’s case, the proportions are reversed, yielding what Dr. Youn calls a “trout pout.”

In addition, the designer’s skin looks waxy, possibly the result of multiple laser treatments.

Credit: Getty Images

Michael Jackson

A whittled-down nose, lightened skin, an unnatural cleft in the chin, a chin implant, lip augmentation, and God knows what else – Michael Jackson was a classic case of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), Dr. Youn says.

BDD is a psychiatric condition that makes it impossible to see oneself as others do. This unrealistic view causes BDD sufferers to undergo multiple plastic surgeries in a misguided attempt to correct a defect – one that wasn’t there to begin with, according to Dr. Youn.

Credit: Getty Images

Jocelyn Wildenstein

“Jocelyn Wildenstein is a poster child for plastic surgery gone wrong,” says Dr. Young.

The “Lion Woman of New York” reportedly underwent dozens of plastic surgeries – all in a misguided attempt to win back her husband.

Dr. Youn thinks she might have undergone a brow lift, facelift, lip plumping injections, chin augmentation, fat grafting and/or cheek implants, upper and lower eyelid surgery, and canthopexy, a procedure that elevates the eyes to give them a catlike appearance.

Credit: Getty Images

Heidi Montag

What more can be said about Heidi Montag?

“She underwent 10 cosmetic surgeries in one day. and now she looks less like a person and more like a Barbie doll,” says Dr. Youn.

“In my opinion, none of these ten plastic surgeries have benefited her except in giving her more publicity and more reasons to do more surgery,” says Youn.

The reality star admitted to having a mini brow lift, botox in her forehead, a nose job revision, fat injections in her cheeks, a chin reduction, neck liposuction, ears pinned back, second breast augmentation, liposuction on waist, hips and inner thighs, and a buttock augmentation.

“This troubled fame addict needs a shrink, not a plastic surgeon!” says Youn.

Montag herself has since called the surgeries a mistake.

“People have fewer scars from car accidents than I have on my body,” she told Life Style Weekly.

Credit: Getty Images

Jennifer Grey

“Jennifer Grey is a good example of how a nose job (rhinoplasty) can dramatically alter one’s appearance,” says Dr. Youn. “The removal of the bump (dorsal hump) on Grey’s nose made her look very different from the ‘Baby’ character she played in ‘Dirty Dancing.'”

That nose was one of Grey’s defining features (like Julia Roberts’s lips, Cindy Crawford’s mole, and David Letterman’s gapped teeth).

While her altered appearance didn’t stop Grey from winning “Dancing with The Stars,” it might have gotten in the way of movie roles.

“I personally think she looks better since it’s just a tad smaller,” says Dr. Youn. “But the problem is that she doesn’t look like she used to.”

Credit: Getty Images

Mickey Rourke

Mickey Rourke appears to have undergone a facelift and upper eyelid lift, as well as hair transplants, according to Dr. Youn.

A badly done facelift can cost a man his sideburns, and Dr. Youn says this seems to have happened with Rourke.

“The unnatural curve between his ear and cheek and his now-attached earlobe are also telltale signs of a facelift,” he says.

Credit: Getty Images

Carrot Top

These days, “Carrot Top is looking more and more like a muscle-bound cartoon character,” says Dr. Youn.

He seems to have undergone quite a few changes over the years, Dr. Youn says, yielding an excessively arched brow and a smooth face, possibly the result of laser treatments or chemical peels.

“At least it appears he’s left his eyelids alone,” Youn says, “although maybe they’re next.”

Credit: Getty Images

Priscilla Presley

What if Elvis could see Priscilla now? Dr. Youn says he might be “All Shook Up.”

A few years ago, says Dr. Youn, Priscilla Presley revealed that she got silicone injections in her cheeks – by a phony doctor. That may explain her puffy face – but not her face’s waxy look. Dr. Youn says the latter might have been caused by a combination of repeated laser treatments and Botox.

Credit: Getty Images


How insurance companies set rates – How to get cheap car insurance – CBS News


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How to get cheap car insurance

For many people, car insurance is a major expense category in the household budget. And because it’s against the law to drive without car insurance, it’s not a budget item that can be eliminated unless you’re willing to go car-free. That doesn’t mean, though, that you’re stuck paying sky-high rates.

How insurance companies set rates

Like health insurance, car insurance comes with both premiums and deductibles. The premiums are what you pay the insurance company every month to maintain your coverage. The deductible is what you’ll pay when you start making claims, up to a certain annual cap of, say, $1,000.

It’s worth noting that most people who say they want cheap car insurance mean that they want car insurance with low monthly premiums. But, as with health insurance, there’s a risk to having a policy with low premiums and a high deductible. In the event of a serious accident, you’ll have to meet that deductible. So, one way to get lower premiums is to opt for a higher deductible, but this is only a safe strategy if you have enough liquidity to cover your deductible in the event of an accident.

When car insurance companies set insurance premium rates they take several factors into account. These include applicants’ age, gender and driving history, as well as the type of car the applicant drives and the driver’s state of residence. While you can’t change your age, there are other steps you can take to get favorable rates from car insurance companies.

Types of coverage

Insurance companies charge more for comprehensive car insurance than they do for basic coverage. In most states you’re required to have liability insurance to cover any damage you do to another car or driver. The extent of that coverage requirement varies by state. In most states, you’re not required to have insurance to cover damage to your own car, or injuries you might suffer in an accident.

If you choose to add insurance coverage for yourself, you can opt for comprehensive coverage or collision coverage. Collision coverage, as the name indicates, covers damage from an accident with another car or an object, and in the event that your car flips. Comprehensive coverage covers things like theft, vandalism and natural disasters, too.

So, while you’ll almost definitely need to buy liability coverage to cover other drivers’ damages, you might not need to buy physical damage coverage for your own vehicle. It will depend on the terms of your lease if you’re leasing a car, and on your own assessment of the risks you face.

If you’re buying a valuable new car, you’ll probably want comprehensive coverage. If you’re paying cash for an older, used vehicle, you can probably get away with a more basic level of coverage. Whatever insurance option you choose for yourself, be sure to comply with state laws relating to liability insurance for any damage you might do to another driver. Once you have a car insurance policy, carry proof of insurance with you in your vehicle at all times.

How to get cheap car insurance rates

In the long term, one of the best ways to get cheap car insurance is to be a safe, responsible driver. The worst drivers have high rates because the insurance company needs financial compensation for the high likelihood that it will have to pay out in the event these drivers get in an accident. If you have a spotless driving record, keep it up. If you have some accidents or tickets in your past, they shouldn’t drive your rates up forever. If it’s been a few years since your last incident, you can try calling your insurance company and asking for a lower rate, using your recent, safe driving record as a bargaining chip.

Another way to get cheap car insurance is to use the same insurance company for more than one type of insurance and get a discount for your loyalty. For example, you can contact the insurance company that provides your homeowners insurance, life insurance or motorcycle insurance and ask if the company can give you a good deal on car insurance. If you have more than one car, you can bundle the insurance coverage on both vehicles.

Your credit score will also affect your car insurance rates, just like it affects the rates you’re offered when shopping for a mortgage. If your credit has improved since you last bought car insurance, you may be able to negotiate your way to cheaper car insurance. And if you pay your car insurance premiums and bills on time and in full, you’ll build up goodwill with your insurer and might qualify for promotional rates.

If you don’t drive very much during the year, you might get cheaper car insurance from a usage-based plan than you would from regular car insurance. Track your mileage before you start shopping for car insurance and see if your low mileage makes you eligible for a better deal.

If you’re under 25, you’ll pay higher premiums, all things being equal. That’s because insurance companies judge young drivers to be riskier drivers. You can get lower rates by joining your parents’ plan, or by using your good grades to get a discount on rates, if your insurance company offers that option. Once you reach your mid-20s there’s no reason to keep paying the high rates that insurance companies levy on young drivers. You can ask your insurance company to lower your rate, or shop around for insurance from another provider.

Finally, the type of car you drive can affect your car insurance rates. Big, powerful and flashy cars are more likely to trigger high car insurance rates because the insurance company assumes you’ll be more likely to speed in that kind of vehicle, and that the vehicle will be a target for theft. Vehicles with high repair costs (such as foreign-made cars) may be more expensive to cover, too. In some states, having a used car will mean lower rates because rates are affected by your car’s replacement value. But in other states, rates are based on vehicles’ safety features, so having an older car won’t necessarily help you get cheap car insurance. If your car has special safety and/or anti-theft features, you may qualify for cheaper car insurance on that basis.

Bottom line

If you don’t have a vehicle or you’re thinking about getting a new (or used) car, it may be worth doing some research to find out which kinds of cars will get you the lowest car insurance rates. And if you’re paying a lot for car insurance now, you may be able to get cheaper coverage by negotiating your premiums or switching providers.


Obama details mortgage relief plans – CBS News #home #loan #amortization


#obama mortgage relief

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Obama details mortgage relief plans

  • AP

Mar 6, 2012 1:52 PM EST

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 6, 2012. Close

Updated at 1:50 p.m. ET

(CBS/ AP) WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is aiming mortgage relief at members of the military as well as homeowners with government-insured loans, the administration’s latest efforts to address a persistent housing crisis.

“No amount of money is going to be enough to make it right for an American family who’s had a piece of the American dream taken away from them,” Mr. Obama said in his first full news conference of the year Tuesday. But, he added, “I’m not one of those people who thinks we can sit by and let the housing market hit bottom.”

In addition to explaining his policy, Mr. Obama’s remarks may have been a jab at one of his potential Republican rivals, Mitt Romney, who has said the housing market should hit bottom. Today’s press conference was scheduled this one on the same day as the 10-state Super Tuesday Republican presidential nominating contests, and Mr. Obama joked, “I understand there are some political contests going on tonight.”

The president announced plans to let borrowers with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration refinance at lower rates, saving the average homeowner more than $1,000 a year. He also was detailed an agreement with major lenders to compensate service members and veterans who were wrongfully foreclosed upon or denied lower interest rates.

The news conference comes in the midst of a modestly improving economy and a new sense of optimism at the White House. But international challenges as well as a stubbornly depressed housing market remain threats to the current recovery and to his presidency.

The president pointed out that businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs over the last two years and certain sectors, like the auto industry and manufacturing, are reviving. Still, he said, millions of Americans are out of work.

“Our job in Washington isn’t to sit back and do nothing,” or stand in the way of the recovery, Mr. Obama said. “Right now we’ve got to do everything we can to speed it up.”

The president called on Congress to take up measures he’s proposed like the “Buffet rule,” which would require millionaires to pay the same tax rates as average-income Americans.

While Congress recently passed the payroll tax cut, Mr. Obama said, “They can’t just stop there and wait for the next election.”

He also called on Congress to pass his proposal to give homeowners a chance to refinance their mortgages at historically low rates.

“If you’ve been on time with your payments, done the right thing, acted responsibly, you should have a chance to save that money on your home,” he said.

In order to get around Congress, Mr. Obama said his administration was announcing an initiative to cut by more than half the refinancing fees families pay for loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA borrowers who want to refinance now must pay a fee of 1.15 percent of their balance every year. Officials say those fees make refinancing unappealing to many borrowers. The new plan will reduce that charge to 0.55 percent.

“That would make refinancing even more attractive to more families,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s like another tax cut that puts more money in people’s pockets.”

With mortgage rates at about 4 percent, the administration estimates a typical FHA borrower with $175,000 still owed on a home could reduce monthly payments to $915 a month and save $100 a month more than the borrower would have under current FHA fees.

The FHA provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories. The loans typically go to homeowners who do not have enough equity to qualify for standard mortgages. It is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world.

For service members and veterans, Mr. Obama announced that major lenders will review foreclosures to determine whether they were done properly. If wrongly foreclosed upon, service members and veterans would be paid their lost equity and also be entitled to an additional $116,785 in compensation. That was a figure reached through an agreement with major lenders by the federal government and 49 state attorneys general.

Under the agreement, the lenders also would compensate service members who lost value in their homes when they were forced to sell them due to a military reassignment.

2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Mortgage Relief Program Released

The Obama administration is kicking off a new program designed to help up to 9 million borrowers stay in their homes through refinanced mortgages or loans that are modified to lower monthly payments.

The Treasury Department on Wednesday released detailed guidelines designed to let the lending industry know how to enroll borrowers in the program announced last month.

To help borrowers determine if they are eligible, the government has put answers to common questions and assessment tools on the Web site www.FinancialStability.gov .

“It is imperative that we continue to move with speed to help make housing more affordable and help arrest the damaging spiral in our housing markets,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.

“The housing program needs no approval by Congress — it starts now,” CBS News’ White House Correspondent Chip Reid reports. The White House says if you think you qualify, call your mortgage company. They warn callers to be patient because those companies are getting flooded with calls.

On Tuesday, key moderate Democrats in the House wrote a compromise to a housing bill that requires bankruptcy judges to consider whether banks offered homeowners reasonable loan restructuring deals before they weigh in with judicial remedies.

The new language is expected to ease the bill onto the House floor for a vote as early as Thursday.

“The concern is that we want to ensure that those people who get relief have tried other avenues,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. said Tuesday.

Borrowers also would have a responsibility to prove that they tried to modify their mortgages with their lenders before seeking help in bankruptcy court.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. one of the centrist negotiators on the bill, said homeowners in fear of losing their homes would have to show that they provided their financial documents to their lenders, “not just a phone call to an answering machine.”

The deal would require judges to consider whether homeowners were offered a “qualified” loan workout – defined as one that would set monthly payments equal to about one-third of a homeowner’s income.

Bankruptcy judges would have to deny a judicial mortgage adjustment in cases where the homeowner is deemed able to afford the loan.

The changes bring the legislation closer in line to what President Obama’s administration has sought and what the banking lobby finds acceptable. The mortgage industry has argued that unfettered access to bankruptcy court mortgage modifications would impose steep and unpredictable costs on its companies that would be passed along to borrowers as higher fees and interest rates.

Their opposition helped derail the bill last week, even after leading Democrats agreed to restrict it to people who had tried other means of reworking their mortgages and those who couldn’t afford their home loans.

The industry has “been giving it everything they’ve got,” said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C. an architect of the legislation. “They still have remarkable influence.”

Still, Miller and some other backers of the idea said they support the new plan.

“It would encourage lenders to make modifications and there would be consequences if they don’t do it,” Miller said.

Democrats discussed the compromise in a closed meeting Tuesday with Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan, who told them the legislation would dovetail with the administration’s overall efforts to reduce foreclosures. Obama unveiled a $75 billion housing initiative two weeks ago that included a call for legislation to permit adjustments to mortgages in bankruptcy court.

Following the session, Lofgren and two other moderate Democrats – Ellen Tauscher and Dennis Cardoza of California – circulated a letter seeking support for their compromise.

“Some may think the changes made to the bill go too far while others will contend that they do not go far enough,” the “Dear Colleague” letter said. “Given the ever-deepening housing crisis, however, we ask you to place such differences aside – as we have done – and support this effort.”

Some liberals said the new limits were inappropriate. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. said many mortgage companies make it impossible for homeowners to even complete a phone call to their lender, much less work out more affordable loan terms.

“I don’t think people ought to have to go through that mess” to get mortgage relief in bankruptcy courts, Waters said.

She said the banking industry still has a stranglehold on Congress. “These guys rule this place,” Waters said.

2009 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.