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Obama Welcomes Washington Homeowners To White House

President Obama welcomed several Washington-area homeowners to the White House this morning to participate in his housing refinance roundtable, along with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

The White House is encouraging eligible homeowners to take advantage of low interest rates and refinance as a way of reducing their monthly payments. The White House estimates some 9 million American homeowners are eligible to refinance and have not done so.

Obama touted the government's newish Web site -- -- where homeowners can go to see if they qualify for refinancing.

"So there are a range of different programs that are available for a range of different types of borrowers," Obama said. "The main message we want to send today is, is that the programs that have been put in place can help responsible folks who have been making their payments, who are not looking for a handout, but this allows them make some changes that will leave money in their pockets and leave them more secure in their homes."

The president also warned: "Last point we want to make: As people have become aware that the government is helping to promote refinancing, we're starting to see some scam artists out there who are contacting people saying, 'You can refinance your home, the government has got a program, we're ready to help -- oh, but by the way, first you've got to pay some money.' I just want everybody who is watching today to know that if somebody is asking you for money up front before they help you with your refinancing, it's probably a scam."

Washington-area participants include, according to the White House release:

-- Pedro and Luz Cruz are from Woodbridge, Virginia. They have lived in their home for over eight years, and they were at risk of losing their home when Pedro’s hours as a mechanic were reduced. This reduction left them struggling with their payments and they were unable to make their mortgage payments or meet other debt obligations. By refinancing their loan from a 15-year mortgage to a 20-year conventional mortgage they were able to save approximately $700.00 per month, enough to safely allow them to meet their entire mortgage and other debt obligations and maintain their family home. They have three daughters, ages 19, 6, and 5. Luz makes her living as a cashier at a Shell gas station in Woodbridge.

-- Gail Johnson lives in southeast Washington, D.C. and works as a registered nurse on the night shift at the Washington Hospital Center. When she purchased her home, she was put into an adjustable rate mortgage loan that was not well explained or well understood. In June 2008, she went to her mortgage broker to refinance and get out of the high cost ARM that was getting ready to increase her payment drastically. She refinanced to a fixed rate with very low closing costs. The fixed-rate loan lowered her payment $400 per month and stabilized her housing payment, allowing her to budget and manage household. She also supports her elderly mother.

-- Julie and Mary Pavlik are sisters and live together in Vienna, Va. They own their home together and have been living there for the past 11 years. Both are both single mothers and they are each raising their own daughters (a 14-year-old freshman at Madison High School and a 7-year-old). They recently refinanced from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage and additionally combined a second mortgage they had taken out to help cover household expenses. They were born and raised in New Martinsville, W.Va.

-- Tran Nguyen lives in Fairfax, Va. He is 28 and the only child of his mother, who lives with him. They’ve lived in Fairfax since 1990, when they came to the United States from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and they’ve lived in their house since 1997. Tran is a patent examiner for U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he’s worked since 2006. His mother is a real estate agent. Refinancing has made a big difference to his monthly cash flow – it’s not only helped with food and utility bills, but helps Tran provide the necessary support for his mother.

-- Jeffrey and Shelby Haggray were married in August 1992, and have resided in Washington, D.C. since then. They are the parents of three children. Jeffrey is the executive director of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention, and Shelby is the associate dean for community life at Wesley Theological Seminary. In November 2008, the Haggrays concluded that refinancing their home was the best option available to them in light of their financial picture. Their monthly household costs exceeded their combined monthly income by several hundred dollars, and they were struggling with property taxes, utilities, and living expenses for their family of five. Their new loan was issued in January 2009, allowing them to consolidate their first and second mortgages, along with paying off their car loan and other credit card debt. As a result, they’ve experienced a reduction in their monthly household expenses of about $1,200.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  April 9, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, mortgage workouts  
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The new federal home loan modification is great for people with good credit and for those with not so perfect credit, but just because your mortgage is not 31% of your income does not mean that you do not struggle to pay it each month, especially in these hard times with everything being more expensive and if you are hit with unexpected expenses! Also why is the modification determined by gross monthly income, when you will probably bring home at least $1000 less a month? That is just stupid!

Posted by: tatrebug | April 14, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

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