To deal with so-called underwater mortgages, the Office of Thrift Supervision wants to develop a refinancing program that provides lender/servicers with certificates for writing down the principal amount of a mortgage to enable them to possibly recoup "some or all" of the immediate loss when the property is sold or refinanced again. OTS Director John Reich said he is trying to find a way to assist homeowners who cannot refinance to lower their mortgage costs and have negative equity in the homes. "We are concerned this reality is encouraging an increasing number of people to walk away from their homes," Mr. Reich told reporters. The OTS is looking at the Federal Housing Administration Secure program as a refinancing vehicle now that the FHA can insure mortgages above the $417,000 conforming loan limit. The OTS director said there is a potential for the certificates to be sold, like warrants, to investors and traded. OTS officials are promoting and developing the concept and say they hope to get other regulators, the FHA, and the American Securitization Forum on board in a few weeks.

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