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Mortgage Lenders Pledge $200 Million to Refinance Subprime Loans

The state of Illinois unveiled the Homeowners’ Assistance Initiative this morning, a program aimed at helping homeowners trapped in subprime ARMs refinance into fixed-rate mortgages.

“The crisis in the sub-prime mortgage market has had a devastating impact on homeowners and entire communities across our country. In Illinois alone, it is possible that up to 70,000 homeowners will face foreclosure this year. A real solution will require lenders, consumers, advocates and public policy makers to all work together. The package we’re announcing today does just that,” said Governor Rod R. Blagojevich in a press release.

“I am confident that by making good loans and sound advice available to Illinois families, we can turn the mortgage crisis around and save homeowners from foreclosure.”

Four mortgage lenders, Guaranteed Rate, Chicago Bancorp, Professional Mortgage, Inc., and Perl Mortgage, have initially committed $50 million each to finance fixed-rate mortgages for homeowners facing resets.

The loans offered through the program will be 30-year fixed-rate mortgages guaranteed by the FHA, and will have mortgage rates ranging between 5.75 percent and 8 percent.

The participating mortgage lenders also agreed to limit related fees to no more than $1,000, with no prepayment penalties.

To qualify, borrowers must complete mortgage counseling and must have a minimum credit score of 580.

But the program has no income requirements and is available to homeowners regardless of their current loan program.

“We are committed to making sure hard working families can afford to stay in their homes and will be reaching out to our own customers and others to offer them an opportunity to refinance their homes to guarantee fixed, affordable payments,” said Victor Ciardelli, President and CEO of Guaranteed Rate.

“Homeowners deserve our help in these uncertain financial times. We’ve been working with homeowners at Outreach Events throughout the state and look forward to implementing this new program,” said Ken Perlmutter of Perl Mortgage.

The program will also establish a statewide counseling network and provide consumer protection to homeowners, allowing them to more easily report mortgage fraud and deceptive practices.

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