The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on Tuesday that it will align guidelines for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sales and allow lenders and servicers to quickly and more easily qualify borrowers for a short sale. 

The new guidelines issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to their mortgage servicers will offer a more streamlined approach to the short sale process by consolidating existing short sales programs into one standard short sale program. The program rules will expand eligibility criteria of borrowers, so homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments, yet suffer from specific hardships, will be able to qualify more quickly for a short sale.

Effective Nov. 1, homeowners with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage will be allowed to sell their home in a short sale even if they are currenton their mortgage, if they have an eligible hardship. Servicers will be able to expedite processing a short sale for borrowers with hardships such as death of a borrower or co-borrower, divorce, disability, increase in housing expenses, unemployment, disability, or relocation for a job, without any additional approval from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

“We are pleased with the new guidelines. REALTORS® at the local, state and national level have long advocated for a more streamlined, standardized short sale process. Improving short sale eligibility will allow more families to avoid foreclosure and reduce the negative impact foreclosures have on families and communities,” said Suzanne Yost, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

Some specific changes include:

  • Eliminates current Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sale programs and creates a single standard short sale process for both entities (Fannie and Freddie HAFA programs will expire at the end of the year).
  • Enables servicers to quickly and easily qualify certain borrowers who are current on their mortgages for short sales without waiting for an approval from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  • Offers special treatment for military personnel with Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.
  • Standardizes and clarifies foreclosure suspensions on a property with an approved short sale.
  • May pay borrowers up to $3,000 in relocation assistance.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer up to $6,000 to subordinate lien holders to expedite a short sale.

Additionally, FHFA clarified that a borrower experiencing a hardship must wait at least two years before becoming eligible for a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. These changes follow FHFA’s announcement in June that established strict timelines for servicers to respond to short sales within 30 days of receipt of a short sale offer, provide weekly status updates to the borrower, and communicate a final decision to the borrower within 60 days of receipt of the offer.

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