A new program is being unveiled today called Handshakes for Homeowners, which aims to recognize underwater homeowners (they owe more than their house is worth) who continue to pay their mortgages on time. With the goal of helping 200,000 homeowners in the next 12-18 months, this program is a creative albeit slightly strange way to reward homeowners, but hopes to prevent more foreclosures in the process.
Here is how the program works: regional centers will be set up with staff (“Handshake Helpers”) trained to go out into the communities and congratulate those who have consistently paid their mortgages. These do-gooders will receive handshakes, certificates and in some cases T-shirts or watches bearing slogans that announce the wearer pays his mortgage. Yes, I said T-shirts.
Lenders will be encouraged to help with the program by giving away trinkets to those who have proved loyal paying customers. These may come in the form of concert or sports tickets, for example. Lenders will be given incentives to participate but doing so is voluntary.
I know what you are thinking and it does seem rather silly. What these troubled homeowners would really like is a little leniency on their payments for being so consistent, right? But with lenders hurting so much I don’t think we will see that happening. Think of it as a little reward that you might not treat yourself to, and a pat on the back. We all could use a little pat, right?