Questions About Harp 2.0
What is the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)?
Announced in March 2009, HARP is a federal government program designed to help 5 million underwater or near-underwater homeowners refinance into a fixed loan with a lower monthly payment. However, as of Aug. 31, only 894,000 borrowers have refinanced through HARP. On Oct. 24, 2011, President Obama announced an overhaul to the HARP program with the intent of reaching more underwater homeowners. The expanded HARP program also referred to as HARP 2.0 will take effect on December 1, 2011 for borrowers with a loan-to-value ratio of less than 105 percent and in the first quarter of 2012 for borrowers with a loan-to-value ratio greater than 105 percent.
Why didn't the original version of the HARP program work?
The original version of HARP had many roadblocks that made it difficult for homeowners to refinance. For example, the program only assisted those with mortgages with a loan-to-value ratio between 80 percent and 105 percent, but in many hard-hit housing markets across the country, homes have lost more than 50 percent in value making those homeowners ineligible for the program.
How will the HARP program change?
Some of the major changes to the HARP program include:
No underwater limits
Borrowers will now be able to refinance regardless of how far their homes have fallen in value. Previous loan-to-value limits were set at 105 percent.
Eliminating appraisals and underwriting
Most homeowners will not have to get an appraisal or have their loan underwritten, making their refinance process smoother and faster.
Certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refi into shorter-term loans will either be eliminated or modified.
The end date to get a HARP refinance has been extended to Dec. 31, 2013.
How do I find out who holds my mortgage?
To be eligible for the HARP program, your mortgage must be held by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. To "look up" your mortgage, check Fannie Mae. If you can't find your mortgage there, check Freddie Mac.