Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)
– Ruben of Springfield, VA, saved $763 per month. Read the Full Story »
HARP is unique—it’s the only refinance program that enables eligible borrowers with little to no equity in their homes to take advantage of low interest rates and other refinancing benefits. There have been several changes to HARP, 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 eligible will now qualify. Program ends December 31, 2018.
HARP may be an option if:
- You have had a good payment history for the past 12 months. That means having no late payments in the last 6 months and no more than one 30-day late payment from 6 to 12 months ago.
- Your home is your primary residence, 2nd home or investment property.
- Your home value has decreased.
- You have limited equity or your first mortgage exceeds the current market value of the home (i.e., your loan-to-value ratio must be 80% to be eligible).
- Your loan is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Check the Fannie Mae Loan Lookup tool.
- Your loan was closed on or before May 31, 2009 (this date can be found using the loan lookup results).
Take the HARP Quiz to see if you may qualify. For more information about HARP eligibility and requirements, go to HARP.gov or visit the Fannie Mae Loan Lookup tool.
Top reasons to refinance with HARP
- Lower your monthly payment
- Reduce your interest rate
- Get a fixed-rate mortgage that won’t change over time
- Build equity faster—shorter term options may be available
- Save time and money with usually no appraisal required
If you qualify to refinance your mortgage through HARP, you’ll go through an application, approval and closing process (similar to when you got your original mortgage). A HARP lender will work with you through every step, and will help determine if HARP meets your specific needs.
Gather your financial information—Make sure you have your basic financial and loan information on hand when you call your mortgage company. You’ll need:
- your mortgage statements, including information on a second mortgage (if applicable);
- your other monthly debt payments (e.g., car or student loans, credit card payments); and
- your income details (paystubs and income tax returns).
Contact Your Mortgage Company and ask if they are an approved HARP lender. Or, contact a HARP lender—tell them you are interested in refinancing and you want to see if you qualify for HARP.
It’s important to act quickly. As soon as you think you may have trouble making your mortgage payments or you think you want to refinance, contact your mortgage company to see if you are eligible for this option. If you need further assistance (before or after contacting your mortgage company), contact a Housing Counselor. Homeowners with a Fannie Mae-owned loan should contact one of our Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Network partners. English and Spanish advisors are available, and all services offered by the Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Network are FREE.
Frequently asked questions about the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)
HARP is the Refinancing Solution You Need
HARP has been expanded to help more homeowners qualify for refinancing their mortgage—even those with little or no equity. With HARP you may take advantage of low interest rates and other refinancing benefits even if the value of your home has declined and you owe more than your home is worth. The questions and answers below will help you better understand how this program works.
1. What is HARP?
HARP stands for the Home Affordable Refinance Program. It was introduced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Department of the Treasury in early 2009 as part of the federal government’s Making Home Affordable™ program. HARP provides eligible homeowners, who may not otherwise qualify for refinancing because of declining home values, the ability to refinance their mortgage into a lower interest rate and/or more stable mortgage product. The program was enhanced in 2011 to allow more eligible homeowners to refinance.
Making Home Affordable is a trademark of the United States Department of the Treasury.
2. What does it mean to “refinance” my mortgage?
When you refinance your mortgage, you are applying for a new mortgage, which replaces your current home loan.
3. What enhancements were made to HARP that may make me eligible now?
There were several changes to HARP, 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 eligible will now qualify.
4. What if I have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)?
HARP allows you to replace your adjustable-rate mortgage to a more stable fixed-rate mortgage. Refinancing may provide you with a lower monthly payment and allow you to avoid the sometimes large payment increase that comes once your ARM’s initial rate ends as the rate may increase over time. The stability of a fixed monthly payment will give you security in knowing what your principal and interest payment will be every month.
5. Is HARP the only refinance program available?
HARP is one of several refinancing options available to eligible homeowners. But HARP is unique—it’s the only refinance program that enables eligible borrowers with little to no equity in their homes to take advantage of low interest rates and other refinancing benefits.
6. How can I find out whether my loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?
Only mortgages owned or guaranteed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are eligible for refinance under HARP. You can confirm that your mortgage is owned by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac by checking the following Web sites:
7. How does the HARP refinance process work?
If you qualify to refinance your mortgage through HARP, you’ll go through an application, approval and closing process (similar to when you got your original mortgage). A HARP Lender will work with you through every step, and will help determine if HARP meets your specific needs. Contact Your Mortgage Company and ask if they are an approved HARP lender. Or, contact a HARP lender—tell them you are interested in Refinancing and you want to see if you qualify for HARP.
8. What if I have been turned down for refinancing before?
The guidelines for HARP may have changed since you last applied, so you may qualify.
9. Will I have to pay closing costs?
Maybe, but closing costs vary by state and size of your loan. Closing costs might be rolled into your new loan so you wouldn’t have to pay these costs out of pocket at closing. Check with a HARP lender to learn more.
10. Is it worth refinancing with HARP?
On average, homeowners are saving over $250* per month on their mortgage payments.
*Average actual monthly payment savings based on total 2012 Fannie Mae HARP mortgage volume. Your monthly savings may vary based on the specific terms of the loan selected, the interest rate, APR and other factors. All loans are subject to credit approval. Contact a HARP lender for details.
11. What if my income is low? Or my income has decreased?
In most cases, it doesn’t matter. You still may qualify.
12. Do I need a new appraisal?
In most cases, no. With HARP, an appraisal is not generally required, so you save time and money.
13. If I owe more on my home than it’s worth, will I have to make a down payment before I can refinance?
No. You do not need to pay more money down on your mortgage in order to refinance with HARP.
14. Do I have to refinance for another 30 years?
No. Shorter loan terms (15-years and 20-years) may be available so you can start paying down your mortgage quicker and building equity faster.
If the new loan is secured by your primary residence and the unpaid principal balance exceeds the property’s fair market value, the interest on the portion of the unpaid principal balance that is greater than the fair market value of your primary residence is not deductible for federal income tax purposes. You should consult a tax advisor for further information regarding the deductibility of interest and charges.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have adopted changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and you may be eligible to take advantage of these changes. If your mortgage is owned or guaranteed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be eligible to refinance your mortgage under the enhanced and expanded provisions of HARP. You can determine whether your mortgage is owned by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac by checking the following Web sites: knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup or freddiemac.com/mymortgage.
What homeowners are saying about HARP.
“Whether you’re looking to refinance a property you live in, or an investment property find out if you qualify for this amazing program.”
– Ruben of Springfield, VA, saved $763 per month. Read the full story »