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Home Affordable Mortgage Refinance Program

New Changes for Government Refinancing Program:

  • The 125% loan-to-value cap, which prevented borrowers from refinancing if the value of their homes had tumbled, has been removed. Now borrowers can get a mortgage refinance loan with no loan to value restrictions what so ever.
  • Borrowers will not need a new property appraisal if Fannie and Freddie have enough data in their automated valuation system to estimate the value of the property. This not only speeds up the refinancing process but also eliminates the appraisal fee.
  • Certain fees associated with the risk of the loan will be reduced. Those fees will be eliminated for borrowers who refinance their mortgages into a shorter-term loan such as a 20-year mortgage or a 15-year mortgage.
  • The program, which had been scheduled to expire in June 2012, has been extended through the end of 2013.
  • Those who bought a house as their primary residence but now hold the property as an investment will be able to refinance through HARP at an additional cost.
  • Lenders will be waived of certain liabilities on the original loans if they refinance those loans through HARP.

HARP Refinancing Eligibility:

  • People with home mortgages owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac can participate.
  • Homeowners cannot be behind on their home loan.

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Featured in CNN Money

The government reaffirmed its commitment to aiding homeowners through the housing crisis when it expanded the home affordable program for mortgage refinancing. Unfortunately there are millions of borrowers who have not been able to refinance into a record low home loan because they lost their eligibility due to lack of equity.

President Obama announced a new plan to help homeowners who want to take advantage of ultra-low mortgage rates and lower their mortgage payments by refinancing. The administration hopes changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program will help about 1 million home owners qualify to refinance.

Here are more details about the newly announced changes to the program:

HARP: The Home Affordable Refinance Program started in 2009. It allows home owners to refinance at lower rates without having to meet the typical requirement of having at least 20 percent of equity in their home. Under current guidelines, many underwater borrowers have been ineligible for the program because their home values had to be no more than 25 percent below what they owed their lender. According to a recent Lenders Nationwide pool, Home Affordable Refinance has been the most requested refinance program requested in the last 2 months. Also, some consumers' were unable to afford the closing costs and appraisal fees to participate. HARP refinancing is an exciting concept for homeowners that have been trapped with an underwater home loan.

Start Date: The changes could take effect by Dec. 1. HARP also is being extended through 2013 to allow more home owners the opportunity to qualify.

Impact: Will it work? The administration hopes that by home owners being able to lower their monthly mortgage payments (with an average annual savings of $2,500 expected), they'll be more likely to stay current on their mortgage and avoid foreclosure. Also, the administration hopes that it will then free up household money to start spending more on other things, which could provide an overall boost to the economy.

In my opinion, the revised HARP requirements are a step in the right direction but the housing market needs much more than a refinancing plan designed to help 1 million homeowners. Where is the help for homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgages? What about unemployed homeowners? We need the administration to support easing of the current restrictive lending environment.

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