Posts Tagged ‘refi’

Coming Soon: “HARP 2 – The Mulligan”*

November 17, 2011

  • “one of the most anticipated sequels of 2011” – says Clay Jeffreys of The Mortgage Blog
  • “it’s about time” – says a frustrated homeowner
* Note the program is still called “HARP,” but I’m referring to it as “HARP 2” for comedic relief and clarity’s sake

Unlike some movie sequels that get filmed (really, we needed a Spy Kids 4?!?), the Homes Affordable Refinance Program, known as HARP, needed a sequel. Why? Just like Rebook realized they needed to make more “office linebacker” commercials after its popularity from a past Superbowl, HARP needed some revisions to be more readily available to homeowners so more people can enjoy it!

Reebok knew what they were doing!

The original intent of HARP was to allow borrowers who were somewhat underwater refinance their mortgage into a lower rate. On paper, it sounded great. Sadly, unforeseen issues arose that didn’t allow the program to be as effective as the government hoped it would be.

What changes should one expect with the sequel “HARP 2 – The Mulligan”? There are a few major changes, but good portions of the HARP program remain the same. You can read about the program from my recent posts here (a recent “question and answer” session) and here (an overview when the program was first announced). Changes include:

  • No maximum loan to value limit. Once this part begins (to start in 2012), homeowners can be 200 or 300% underwater and still refinance to a loan without paying mortgage insurance if there is not mortgage insurance on the current loan.
  • Up to 125% loan to value ratio to be allowed with any mortgage company. This should get underway starting in December. Presently only your current mortgage servicer was allowed to go that high, which limited consumer’s ability to shop for the best interest rate.
  • Homeowners can qualify even if they are currently unemployed AND no income verification is required if the previous loan was a stated income loan as long as…
  • Homeowners have no late mortgage payments in the last 6 months, and only one late mortgage payment of 30 days in the last 7-12 months. In other words, if you are paying on time, you could refinance without income verification.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) to be transferred to the new loan as long as it is not Lender-Paid PMI

As long as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac own your mortgage, you got the mortgage prior to the end of February 2009, and you are current with the payments, there is a good chance you’ll qualify for new and improved HARP 2 loan program.

Some questions you may be thinking:

  • How do I know if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac own my mortgage? Great question! You can use their online lookup tools. Use this link for Fannie Mae. Try this link for Freddie Mac.
  • How do I get started? If the property (primary residence, vacation home or investment property) is in the state of Georgia, I can help you get started. Contact me and we will take it from there.

Remember HARP 2 is not here yet, but it is coming soon. Refinance applications for the updated program can start in December, but some parts may not be available until 2012. Stay tuned to The Mortgage Blog for updates on all aspects HARP 2 availability in the coming weeks!

HARP revamped

October 24, 2011

The government announced changes to the HARP program this morning (October 24, 2011). I know there will be lots of questions about the program and the changes, so let’s try a “Q and A” approach to this post!

* I’ve offset the updated portions of HARP with bold colored text. *

Q: What is HARP?

A: HARP is the Home Affordable Refinance Program, but like characters from the Lord of the Rings, it has many different names including Making Homes Affordable, DU Refi Plus, Freddie Relief, and some even refer to it as the Obama Refi Plan.

Like HARP, Gandalf has many names including Gandalf the Grey, Gandalf the White, The White Rider, Greyhame, Mithrandir, Stormcrow, The Grey Pilgrim, Tharkun, Olorin, Láthspell… you get the idea.

Q: Does anyone qualify for HARP?

A: No. There are two main items that each current homeowner must meet to qualify. First, either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac must own your mortgage. Second, Fannie or Freddie must have received your loan prior to June 1, 2009.

Q: How do I know if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac own my loan?

A: Great question! It is nice that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have both created a look-up tool to make it easier to find out if they own your mortgage. To use Fannie Mae’s, use this link. For Freddie Mac, go here.

Q: Are there any other criteria to meet in order to qualify:

A: Yes, there are other items that potential borrowers must meet. These include being current on your mortgage payments, no late payments in the last 12 months, a qualifying credit score, and borrowers still must qualify based on their income.

Q: NEW – Are there loan to value limits?

A: No, there are now no loan to value limits to qualify. You can be 200% underwater on your mortgage and still qualify to use HARP. This was previously a major holdup to homeowners qualifying to use this program, and it has now been eliminated.

Q: If I have less than 20% equity in my home, will I have to pay PMI on the new loan?

A: No, you will not have to pay PMI on the new loan regardless of the loan to value/amount of equity in your home.

Q: I pay PMI now, can I qualify for the HARP program.

A: Your PMI payments on the new loan will not go up, but the transfer of your PMI from your current loan to the new loan will require some extra steps. Let your loan officer know if you have PMI on your current loan.

Q: I have a second mortgage on my home. Can I still qualify? Would I have to consolidate into one mortgage?

A: Yes, you can still qualify for HARP, but not by consolidating the mortgages. HARP does not allow homeowners to consolidate loans. The second mortgage company must agree to subordinate behind the new first mortgage. The revamped HARP may allow auto-subordinations to occur, which will make it easier for homeowners to use HARP if they have a second mortgage.

Q: Can I refinance any property?

A: Yes, you can. Primary residence, second homes, and investment properties can all qualify for HARP.

Q: NEW – Can I use HARP with any lender?

A: Yes, you can use any lender to refinance your mortgage. Prior to the loan to value changes from 125% to no limit, homeowners were required to use their current loan servicer to go up to 125%. That is no longer the case.

Q: When will these changes go into effect?

A: Lenders should begin coming out with updated guidelines in the next few weeks. Homeowners can more than likely begin using the revamped HARP in December 2011. The HARP is currently extended to go through the end of 2013, so there is plenty of time to take advantage of it!

Q: I have more questions, and would like to get started. What do I do?

A: If the property is in the state of Georgia, I can help get you started with the refinance process. Contact me and we’ll get underway with the process and answering any additional questions you have about HARP. If the property is not in the state of Georgia, contact a local loan officer/lender to get started.

Like the Lord of the Rings, the HARP has a lot of names and details that go with it. Unlike the Lord of the Rings, it won’t be an grand, epic, and sometimes exhausting 1,000+ page read cover to cover… but both come with a happy ending!