The HARP mortgage is a home loan refinance program launched in March 2009, which gives homeowners whose homes have lost value the ability to refinance to current mortgage rates without incurring new mortgage insurance, regardless of loan-to-value (LTV). HARP stands for “Home Affordable Refinance Program” and is available to homeowners until December 2016. If you’re underwater on your conforming, conventional mortgage, you may be eligible to refinance to today’s mortgage rates without paying down principal and without having to pay mortgage insurance. First, your home loan must be paid on-time for the prior 6 months, and at least 11 of the most recent 12 months. Second, your mortgage must have a note date of no later than May 31, 2009, which means that you loan must have funded on, or before, May 31, 2009. And, third, you may not have used the program before — only one HARP refinance per mortgage is allowed.
These are the details of the government’s HARP refinancing program.
What Is A HARP Loan?
The program was started in April 2009. It goes by several names. The government calls it the Home Affordable Refinance Program.The program is also known as Making Home Affordable, the Obama Refi, A Better Bargain For U.S. Homeowners, DU Refi Plus, harp mortgage and Relief Refinance.
The loan requirements are:
- Your loan must be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
- Your current mortgage must have a note date of no later than May 31, 2009
If you meet these two criteria, you may be HARP-eligible. If your mortgage is an FHA, USDA, VA or a jumbo mortgage, you are not HARP-eligible.
Underwater USDA loans can be refinanced via the USDA Streamline Refinance program, which is available in most states.
HARP Refinance : Questions and Answers
Is “HARP” the same thing as the government’s “Making Home Affordable” program?
Yes, the names HARP and Making Home Affordable are interchangeable. The program is also known as DU Refi Plus and Relief Refinance, and many mortgage lenders call it.
How do I know if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac has my mortgage?
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have “lookup” forms on their respective websites. Check Fannie Mae’s first because Fannie Mae’s market share is larger. If no match is found, then check Freddie Mac. Your loan must appear on one of these two sites to be eligible for HARP.
Am I eligible for the Home Affordable Refinance Program if I’m behind on my mortgage?
No. You must be current on your mortgage to refinance.
Will the Home Affordable Refinance Program help me avoid foreclosure?
No. The Home Affordable Refinance Program is not designed to delay, or stop, foreclosures. It’s meant to give homeowners who are current on their mortgages, and who have lost home equity, a chance to refinance at today’s low mortgage rates.
Can I “roll up” my closing costs with a HARP refinance?
Yes, mortgage balances can be increased to cover closing costs in addition to other monies due at closing such as escrow reserves, accrued daily interest, and a small amount of cash. In no cases may loan sizes exceed the local conforming loan limits, however. In most U.S. markets, this limit is $417,000. In certain high-cost areas, including Orange County, California and Fairfax, Virginia, for example, the limit ranges as high as $625,500.
I am unemployed and without income. Am I HARP-eligible?
Yes, according to official HARP guidelines, you can be unemployed and use the HARP loan to refinance. Applicants will not need to be “requalified” on income unless their new principal + interest payment increases by more than 20%. If the new payment increases by less than 20%, or falls, there is no requalification necessary.
Call me for a rate quote . If the rate looks good to you, accept it. There is no fee for applying and you’re typically not required to give your social security number to get started.
Lastly, don’t forget! The Home Affordable Refinance Program is not meant to save a home from foreclosure. It’s meant to give underwater homeowners a chance to refinance without paying PMI. If you need foreclosure help, call your current loan servicer immediately.
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