‘Do yourself a favor and make the call to find out if you’ll qualify. You have nothing to lose, and could save significantly by trying.’
Moreno Valley, CA, grew fast during the 1980s as Los Angeles sprawled into former farming areas. The homes were a good buy for working families, affordable and commuting distance to Los Angeles—about an hour.
Paul, employed in the boating industry, and his self-employed wife Cherie bought their first single-family Moreno Valley home for $155,000 in September 2003. A few years later, the couple took out a second mortgage to remodel the home, raising their loan amount to $260,000.
In 2008, several things happened: Paul was injured on-the-job and put on disability. The recession hit, followed by job layoffs and declining home values. The boating company went out of business, and Paul was unable to find employment.
By 2012, even with Cherie’s income, they were just staying afloat.
Thankfully, 2012 was also the year the federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) underwent significant changes, helping more “underwater” (meaning they owe more on their loan than their home was worth) borrowers to refinance.
Paul and Cherie had received a letter from their mortgage company explaining HARP, a federal government program designed to help homeowners who are underwater or have little equity to refinance. Naturally, when Paul and Cherie first received the letter they were skeptical and thought they wouldn’t qualify.
But they made the call, and to their surprise refinancing with HARP lowered their mortgage from $1,773 to $1,468, a savings of $305 a month. Not only did they save money, but they have also since received two checks totaling $720.29 in credits owed. “What a blessing in disguise this was—the extra money saved per month will help out tremendously,” says Paul.
Their advice? “We were afraid we wouldn’t qualify, but we did. Do yourself a favor and make the call to find out if you’ll qualify. You have nothing to lose, and could save significantly by trying.”