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What Is the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)?

During the financial crisis of 2008, many homeowners found themselves with mortgages that were higher than the property value. To help such homeowners, the government launched the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

HARP is an affordable refinancing program from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). It helps homeowners who are underwater (whose mortgage is higher than the home value) or nearly underwater—but who can't get a loan modification through other means—to refinance their mortgage and avoid foreclosure. HARP is designed to lower monthly payments regardless of how underwater a borrower may be!

The main conditions are that the mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae (can't be a non-conforming loan) and sold to them before May 31, 2009.

Homeowners have many benefits through HARP. Besides the obvious reduction of monthly interest, there are a few added bonuses. For example, a homeowner can use HARP to switch from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage, with a steady monthly rate they can be certain of. HARP also helps to grow equity over time by shortening loan terms to slowly save homeowners from being underwater with their mortgages.

Thanks to recent changes to the program, HARP now has lower closing costs by eliminating the need for appraisals or underwriting. Refinance your home with the Home Affordable Refinance Program today!


HARP Pros:

  • You'll get lower, more manageable monthly payments.  

  • The value in your home is not a key factor in qualifying for HARP.

  • There's no maximum loan-to-value ratio; this makes it easier for those who are underwater to get refinancing.

  • If the lender can get a reliable property value estimate from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there will be no need for an appraisal report. This is a cost saving.

  • There's no income limit for borrowers to be eligible.

  • HARP can be used on second homes, vacation homes, or investment property.

HARP CONs:

  • Loans closed after May 31, 2009 are not eligible.

  • It only applies to loans bought or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

  • The borrower must be up to date on payments, with no late payments, which is tough during times of hardship.

  • There's a loan amount limit; HARP uses the conforming loan limit for each area.

 


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How to Qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program

If you have an FHA, USDA, VA, or jumbo mortgage, you are not eligible. Qualifying criteria include:

  • The mortgage must have been previously owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.*

  • The mortgage must have been sold to either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before May 31, 2009.

  • The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be more than 80%.

  • You must be current on your payments; you can't have a single late payment in the last 12 months.

  • You can apply with a credit score as low as 580.

  • You haven't used HARP before.

*You can check eligibility on either the Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac website.

If you applied for HARP in the past and were turned down, consider applying again. The expanded requirements mean that more people are eligible now. Fill out the form below and a home.loans specialist will help you through the HARP process.


Interested in HARP refinancing? Fill out the form below for a risk-free quote today!