HARP 2.0 kicked into full gear during the spring. The revamped program has been around for roughly 5 months now. It is time to look back and see if it is working as it was originally advertised. Some of the changes included homeowners being able to refinance with any lender regardless of if they have PMI, a second mortgage, or if they are really, REALLY underwater on their mortgage.
Let’s look at each of those from my own client’s experiences and what has been commonly found true in the industry:
#1. Homeowners can refinance even if they are underwater on their mortgage and still not pay PMI if they do not currently pay PMI.
This is working out as planned. If a homeowner does not have PMI on their loan and qualify for HARP, then the refinance can take place and no PMI will be required for the new loan.
#2. Homeowners can refinance even if they DO have PMI on their current loan.
This is mostly true. Almost all of the PMI companies to allow for transfers of the current mortgage insurance policy to the new loan. Your loan officer will be able to determine who has your PMI and if they allow for PMI transfers.
#3. A homeowner can refinance even if they have a second mortgage.
This is probably mostly true as HARP 2 allows unlimited total loan to value. Since HARP 2 began, I have not had a subordination request denied by a second mortgage company. This isn’t to say NO ONE has had one denied. I’m sure someone, somewhere has still had a subordination request denied. From my experience, HARP 2 is working as advertised in this regard.
#4. A homeowner can refinance even if they are REALLY underwater on their mortgage.
Depending on what you read, this can be true or untrue. There have been reports of some homeowners still being denied, but there are now no limits on the loan to value. Homeowners that were previously denied for being too far underwater are able to refinance.
#5. A homeowner can refinance with any lender using HARP 2.0.
This one seems to be mostly no if the loan to values exceed 125%. If the loan to value is at or below 125%, then yes, in most cases many banks and mortgage brokers can do the refinance. However, when the loan to value moves over 125%, then fewer banks and brokers can actually do the refinance. For some reason, 125% seems to be the cutoff for the “any lender” aspect of HARP 2. If a homeowner falls into this category, then their current loan servicer is probably their only option.
For my own mortgage, I was in this same situation. My loan to value sits over the 125% level, and I was unable to do the HARP 2 refinance through the company I work for. I had to use my current loan servicer. The good news is, I was able to refinance my mortgage to a rate of 4.250%. The only downside was the interest rate. My rate was roughly 0.500% higher than the rate I could have got somewhere else. I didn’t have a choice as I needed the unlimited loan to value. A rate of 4.250% was better than not refinancing at all.
The moral of the story – HARP 2 has mostly accomplished what it set out to do. The only caveat being if one needs an unlimited loan to value refinance. Under that scenario, the options mostly seem to be limited to one’s current loan servicer.
How should a homeowner proceed? I would contact a loan officer with your preferred lender first. They should be able to review your situation and see what you might qualify for with HARP 2. If you do need an unlimited loan to value and your current loan servicer, then you can call and see what they can offer. The advantage of contacting your preferred lender first is you’ll know your options and the going interest rates that are available. That could help when negotiating with your servicer if they are you only option.
Whether it is your primary residence, a second home, or an investment property… if the home is located in the state of Georgia, I can help. Contact me today, and we can evaluate what you qualify for with HARP 2.