HARP Extended Until 2015
In an April 11 press release, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) extended the deadline for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to December 31, 2015 (the program was set to expire December 31, 2013).
HARP is a federal government program that enables eligible homeowners with little to no equity in their homes to take advantage of low interest rates and other refinancing benefits.
Several changes have been made since HARP’s introduction in 2009, but the primary enhancement removed the limit on the amount that homeowners could be “underwater” (owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth). With that change, many homeowners who were not previously eligible may now qualify.
Why Refinance Now?
According to Robert Greenbaum, a senior communications director at Washington, DC-based Fannie Mae, with interest rates at or near historically low levels, homeowners who refinance with HARP on average save hundreds of dollars each month on their mortgage payment. “That’s why we’re encouraging homeowners to take action now to see if they might qualify,” says Greenbaum, “even though the program is extended, they should act now to start saving sooner.”
Fannie Mae recently posted a HARP eligibility “quiz” to help homeowners find out if they might be eligible and homeowner testimonials from borrowers who thought they couldn’t qualify and are now saving!
More of a Good Thing
In its recent press release, FHFA noted that more than 2 million homeowners have refinanced through HARP. “We are extending the program so more underwater borrowers can benefit from lower interest rates,” says Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco.
To build on this momentum, FHFA also announced that it will soon launch a nationwide campaign to inform homeowners about HARP. This campaign will educate consumers about HARP and its eligibility requirements and motivate them to explore their options and utilize HARP before the program ends.
Many mortgage companies are also actively reaching out to existing and potential borrowers they have determined may be eligible for HARP.
Can I Qualify?
To be eligible for a HARP refinance borrowers must meet the following criteria:
- The current loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
- The Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan must have closed on or before May 31, 2009. (You can use the Fannie Mae Loan Lookup Tool or Freddie Mac Loan Lookup Tool to determine the acquisition date.)
- The current mortgage cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously unless it is a Fannie Mae loan that was refinanced under HARP from March-May, 2009.
- The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80 percent. (Use the loan-to-value calculator to determine your LTV.)
- There have been no late payments on the current mortgage loan in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the last 12 months.
To find out if you might qualify for refinancing under HARP, contact your existing mortgage company. If your mortgage company cannot help you, use our list of HARP lenders to find a lender in your state.