By Renee Massey
There has been a lot in the news lately about the government refinance program HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program). The program was recently revamped by FHFA (Federal Housing Finance Agency) and lenders should be receiving the new guidelines this week. The biggest difference in the new program is the removal of the loan to value limit of 125%. Homeowners in many hard hit areas including San Diego did not qualify for the previous HARP program because of the 125% cap. Although lenders now have the new guidelines, it is unclear when they will be adopting the changes. If you are unfamiliar with HARP, listed below are the current guidelines from the making home affordable website: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/programs/lower-rates/Pages/harp.aspx.
You may be eligible to apply if you meet all of the following:
- You have a mortgage owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
- You do not have an FHA, VA or USDA loan.
- You are current on your mortgage payments and have not been more than 30 days late making a payment over the last year.
- Have a first mortgage not exceeding 125 percent of the current market value of your home. (This criteria will be removed in the revamped HARP guidelines)
- The refinance will improve the long-term affordability or stability of your mortgage.
- You have the ability to make the new payments.
*Eligibility criteria are for guidance only. Contact your mortgage servicer to see if you qualify for HARP.
The HARP program is offered by many servicers. Homeowners should check with their mortgage servicer (the company to which homeowners make their mortgage payments) to determine if they are participating in HARP. If their mortgage servicer is not participating, the homeowner may contact other lenders that participate in HARP to determine if they are eligible for a refinance.
Steps to HARP Refinance
- Determine whether your mortgage is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac by visiting their respective Loan Lookup tools.
- Contact your current mortgage servicer or another that is approved by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to inquire about HARP.
- Compare rates and costs with additional mortgage companies to ensure best refinance terms.
For More Information
- Visit FannieMae.com or call (800)7Fannie.
- Visit FreddieMac.com or call (800)Freddie, Option 2
- If you have additional questions about getting mortgage help, contact one of our housing advisors at (888) 995-HOPE (4673). These HUD-approved housing counselors will help you understand your options, design a plan to suit your individual situation, and prepare your application. Research shows that homeowners who work with housing counselors like these are more successful and have better long-term outcomes. There is no cost to you for this valuable, around-the-clock service. Help is available in more than 160 languages.
Renee Massey has been with Ken May Insurance services since February 2011. She is our customer service representative and also works as a Realtor® throughout San Diego County. If you are interested in buying or selling your home or have any real estate questions please contact her by phone or email.