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Will the housing market destabilize once again in 2017?

With the departure of President Obama, so goes his fledgling Home Affordable Modification Program. The much-maligned government program was an attempt to keep borrowers at risk of foreclosure in their homes.

However, HAMP participation was voluntary for lenders — and far too few chose to comply. The program also got few rave reviews from consumer advocacy groups. Some felt that lenders weren't held accountable and that HAMP didn't do enough to help those struggling to remain in their homes.

But as lukewarm a reception as the program received, it certainly was better than what the GOP-controlled White House and Congress will offer consumers in the way of relief, which is surely to be little or nothing of substance. Expecting the private sector to step up and address fallout from its own crisis is naive at best.

Yet mortgage companies and banks have said they are prepared to offer programs to prevent foreclosures that are modeled on the previous administration's policies. Their aim is to protect both the lenders and the borrowers, but skepticism remains high.

Prior to 2009 when President Obama introduced HAMP at the height of the mortgage crisis, over 7 percent of all home loans in the United States were either already in foreclosure or seriously delinquent.

The Trump administration is fraught with uncertainty, which can have a destabilizing effect on the housing market, even after it has stabilized itself in recent years. Time will tell how this Congress and president will affect the mortgage industry and lending practices.

Until then, however, those consumers who face the danger of foreclosure may need to seek legal guidance to find the best solution for their personal financial crises.

Source: The New York Times, "Foreclosure Prevention Returns to the Unknown," Stacy Cowley, Jan. 25, 2017

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At the law offices of William H. Oliver, Jr. & Associates in Toms River and Lakewood, New Jersey, we represent clients in Toms River, Neptune, Trenton, Middletown, Red Bank, Wall, Lakewood, Lakehurst, Manchester, Asbury Park, Old Bridge, Jamesburg, Barnegat, Forked River, Manahawkin, Ocean Township, Brick, Manasquan, Howell, Freehold, Hazlet, Bradley Beach, Brown Mills, Long Branch, Keansburg, Marlboro, Bayville, Beachwood, Whiting, Sayreville, South River, East Brunswick, Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Burlington County and Mercer County.