What You Should Know About the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)

The federally-operated HARP, or Home Affordable Refinance Program, has made it easier for countless homeowners to save money on their mortgage payments each month. It can be of assistance to a variety of homeowners, including those with underwater mortgages.

Considerable changes have been made to this program since it was announced in 2009, allowing for more people to refinance their homes. Unfortunately, these alterations have also left confusion in their wake. How do you know if you’re too deep in debt? What are these new changes? Will your loan need to be refinanced by your mortgage carrier?

If you have questions about the program, we may have some of the answers here. Most importantly, if you believe you may be eligible for the Home Affordable Refinance Program, be sure to call your mortgage carrier.

Which HARP changes improve my eligibility?

While the program saw numerous changes, the biggest of these removed the cap on mortgage amount versus the home’s actual value. Because of this alteration, many people who couldn’t refinance before can do so now. Another beneficial change has enabled homeowners to seek refinancing with their choice of lender.

What about adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs)?

Participating in the HARP with an ARM can benefit you, for doing so enables you to switch your current ARM with a fixed-rate option. If your payment is about to reset, going with the Home Affordable Refinance Program can now help because you may be able to obtain a locked-in fixed-rate price before rates climb any more than they already have.

Is HARP the only available refinancing program?

The Home Affordable Refinance Program is just one of the many refinancing programs available right now. However, HARP is unique, as it’s the only program of its kind that is both widely available and that allows qualifying homeowners with little or no value in their home to enjoy low interest rates and other perks.

How do I find out who my lender is?

To verify which company owns your mortgage, you can look at these websites for help:

For Fannie Mae: http://knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup
For Freddie Mac: http://freddiemac.com/mymortgage

Unfortunately, only mortgages under these two companies will qualify you for the HARP.

Can I add or remove someone on my HARP refinance?

As long as one of the initial borrowers is still on the loan, you can still remove or add people to it.

Must I refinance for 30 more years?

No. If you qualify for HARP, you can get shorter terms, such as 15 or 20 years, which makes it easier to start paying off your loan and building greater equity.