obama I’m writing about this for Commonwealth, and figured I’d post the following very brief explanation, in case you’re confused.

There are two significant "programs" from the Obama administration that affect home buyers and homeowners.

1. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009. Among other things, it provides for a tax credit of up to $8,000 for "first-time buyers" who purchase a home before November 30, 2009. ("First-time buyers" means you haven’t owned a home since 2005.) Live in the house three years, and you don’t have to pay the money back, either.

2. The Making Home Affordable program. This is for current owners with trouble paying mortgages. There are two parts:

A. The Home Affordable Refinance program is for "4 to 5 million homeowners who have a solid payment history on an existing mortgage owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac," according to the Treasury Department. "Many of them will now be eligible to refinance their loan to take advantage of today’s lower mortgage rates or to refinance an adjustable-rate mortgage into a more stable mortgage, such as a 30-year fixed rate loan."

B. The Home Affordable Modification program is for people who are having trouble making payments on non-Fannie or -Freddie loans. If they qualify, it requires lenders/servicers to reduce the interest rate and possibly extend their mortgage so monthly payments are no more than 31 percent of the homeowner’s income. (There are limits. The unpaid balance must be for less than $729,751, and the loan had to originate before January 1, 2009.)

Besides these, there is also the older Hope for Homeowners program that will allow some people facing foreclosure to refinance through HUD.

That probably took more than 30 seconds to read. Sorry. Hope it helps.