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HARP Loans

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 - took effect on December 1, 2011 for borrowers with a loan-to-value ratio of less than 125 percent and in the first quarter of 2012 for borrowers with a loan-to-value ratio of greater than 125 percent.

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 125 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.

  • Modified fees
    Certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refi into shorter-term loans will either be eliminated or modified.

  • Extended deadline
    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.