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Foreclosure Rules Relaxed for Jobless

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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is making it easier for out-of-work homeowners to stay in their homes, as it tries to revamp its troubled foreclosure-prevention program.

Starting Aug. 1, the Federal Housing Administration will extend the period for unemployed homeowners to miss mortgage payments to a full year from three or four months.

That will allow qualified homeowners to go without making a monthly payment for 12 months before the foreclosure process begins.

The extended grace period only applies to FHA-backed loans, which are usually given to low- and middle-income borrowers and represent about 14 percent of all active mortgages and roughly 25 percent of new mortgages, and homeowners in the government’s foreclosure-prevention program.

About 10,000 homeowners in the foreclosure program and 3,500 FHA-backed homeowners per month would be eligible, officials said.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said Thursday that administration officials hope private lenders and government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which back 90 percent of all new mortgages, will adopt a similar policy.

“Our hope is that this will have broader effects,” Donovan said during a conference call.

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