What is HARP and what is different about HARP 2.0?
First established in 2009, HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) was initiated as an option for underwater homeowners wanting to refinance their mortgage at lower interest rates with government expectations that it would assist millions of homeowners who found themselves owing more on their mortgages than what their homes were worth.
Up until now, HARP has fallen short of these expectations – prompting the government to relax eligibility requirements in an effort to help more people stave off foreclosure.
Billed as HARP 2.0, the government has extended the program until December 31, 2013 and set out new guidelines for those wishing to apply. One of the biggest criticisms of the original plan was that in order to qualify, homeowner’s loan-to-value ratio was required to be less than 125%, automatically ruling out millions whose home value fell below that figure. This requirement has now been relaxed with HARP 2.0, which stipulates that the property only has to be valued at less than the mortgage in order for homeowners to qualify.
How do I qualify?
- Your Loan must be Owned or Serviced by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Click here to find out
- Your loan must have closed before May 2009.
- You must have had no mortgage lates in last 6 months and no more than one 30 day late in 7-12 months immediately prior to the loan application date.
- There are no specific requirements about minimum equity level in your house or documentation of Income, Assets or Employment. So you may qualify even if you are upside down on your mortgage and/or have no employment.
- All occupancy types and almost all kinds of properties would be eligible.
- You can get the new HARP loan even if you have a Mortgage Insurance (MI) on your current loan. However, if you do not have an MI currently, you wouldn’t be required to pay MI even though your LTV (Loan to value ratio) for the new loan would be >80%.
When will this program be available?
Though it was launched in December 2011, most of the lenders are expected to make this available on or around March 19th.
Do I have to use a big bank or my current loan servicer to avail of this program?
No you don’t have to. There are several lenders, large and small who are approved to offer this loan program. Find the one which offers competitive rates and great customer service.
Where can I find more information?
You can go to the official HARP website to get more information about this Government initiative. You can also go to a website that I created exclusively for HARP 2.0 Refinance Program. The website has a lot of FAQs, detailed qualification guidelines, and even a free eBook available for instant download.