The new, revamped HARP program is now available nationwide. It was officially released Saturday, March 17, 2012 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
HARP is an acronym. It stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program. HARP is the conforming mortgage loan product meant for “underwater homeowners”. Under the HARP program, homeowners can get access to today’s low mortgage rates despite having little or no equity whatsoever.
HARP is expected to reach up to 6 million U.S. homeowners who would otherwise be unable to refinance.
HARP is not a new program. It was originally launched in 2009. However, the program’s first iteration reached fewer than 1 million U.S. households because loan risks were high for banks, and loan costs were high for consumers.
With HARP’s re-release — dubbed HARP 2.0 — the government removed many of HARP’s hurdles.
In order to qualify for HARP, homeowners must first meet 3 qualifying criteria.
First, their current mortgage must be backed either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Loans backed by the FHA or VA are ineligible, as are loans backed by private entities. This means jumbo loans and most loans from community banks cannot be refinanced via HARP.
- To check if your loan is Fannie Mae-backed, click here.
- To check if your loan is Freddie Mac-backed, click here.
The second qualification standard for HARP is that all loans to be refinanced must have been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009. Mortgages securitized on, or after, June 1, 2009 are HARP-ineligible.
There are no exceptions to this rule.
And, lastly, the third HARP qualification standard is that the existing mortgage must be accompanied by a strong repayment history. Homeowners must have made the last 6 mortgage payments on-time, and may not have had more than one 30-day late within the last 12 months.
If the above three qualifiers are met, HARP applicants will find mortgage guidelines lenient overall :
- Refinancing into a fixed rate mortgage allows for unlimited loan-to-value
- The standard 7-year “waiting period” after a foreclosure is waived in full
- Except in rare cases, home appraisals aren’t required for HARP
Furthermore, HARP mortgage rates are on par with non-HARP rates. This means that HARP applicants get access to the same mortgage rates and loan fees as non-HARP applicants. There’s no “penalty” for using HARP.
To apply for HARP, check with your loan officer today.