Relief For East TN Homeowners?

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Knoxville (WVLT) President Bush has cut what he calls a voluntary deal aimed at cooling the mortgage meltdown, and keeping people in their homes.

He insists it won't cost any tax dollars.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd asks the question about whether it's the right fix for the right folks.

East Tennessee has tended to be a lower-risk, fixed rate mortgage and home market.

But foreclosures are up.

Will this buy relief, or just delay the defaults?

Hugh Meaney says, "those people are hurting, and if those second tier are going to spike again and hurt them to where they're going to be belly up and out of the house, it's going to be a worse situation that we're going to have now."

Meaney believes anything to help keep his neighbors in their homes likely will help anybody in, or trying to build, buy or sell a home.

Joe Garrison with Consumer Credit Counseling Service says, "it is gonna help, it's basically little more than a band-aid. But it's not gonna solve a problem."

It will freeze folks adjustable mortgage rates for five years, provided they took out their loans between January 2005 and this July.

But only, if they haven't missed a payment.

Jesse Lehn with Mortgage Investors Group says, "what it doesn't address is how is the investor on the other end, how is their return gonna be impacted."

Garrison continues, "If you're in foreclosure, or have already been foreclosed upon, it does nothing for you."

Nor does it help homeowners just shy of foreclosure missing three or four payments.

More than 150 folks in Knoxville, more than two dozen in Sevierville.

Howard Sampsell, a Knoxville Homeowner with a fixed-rate mortgage says, "people are gonna pay the penalty and the general economy is gonna pay a penalty as well."

Homeowner and taxpayer Sampsell believes any rate freeze simply rewards or excuses irresponsible lending and borrowing.

"There's gotta be consequences for your actions and this is what they're gonna have to pay."

Jesse Lehn with Mortgage Investors Group says, "I can understand that point of view."

The problem, mortgage investor Lehn says, is that if more folks default on their loans and lose their homes.

"They will bring property values down, or they'll stagnate any improvements.

Sampsell says, "that's the capitalist way, then learn a lesson and they won't do it the next day."

Credit counselors say learning is key.

Too many borrowers obviously hadn't done the math to realize that a 2 to 4 point rate bump would jump their average monthly payment more than $300 bucks.

Garrison says, "if they don't fix a problem or educate, and they're just bailed out, it can happen again."

This rate freeze help won't find you.

You'll have to ask for it through this toll-free number, 1-888-995-HOPE.

But this bailout has a broader audience, lenders, and would-be buyers and sellers who could be moving in or moving up, but have been sitting out waiting for things to stabilize.

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