REFINANCE WITH HARP

Refinance with HARP

What is HARP?

HARP was started in April 2009. It goes by several names. The government calls it the Home Affordable Refinance Program.

The program is also known as Making Home Affordable, the Obama Refi, A Better Bargain For U.S. Homeowners, DU Refi Plus, and Relief Refinance.

In order to be eligible for the HARP refinance program:

  1. Your loan must be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  2. Your current mortgage must have a note date of no later than May 31, 2009

If you meet these two criteria, you may be HARP-eligible. If your mortgage is an FHA, USDA, VA or a jumbo mortgage, you are not HARP-eligible.

HARP: Questions and Answers

Do these question-and-answers account for the "new" HARP mortgage program?

Yes, everything you are reading is accurate as of today, May 29, 2014. This post includes the latest changes as rolled out by the Federal Home Finance Agency on October 24, 2011, and as confirmed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on November 15, 2011. HARP 2.0 was formally released by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac March 17, 2012.

Is "HARP" the same thing as the government's "Making Home Affordable" program?

Yes, the names HARP and Making Home Affordable are interchangeable. The program is also known as DU Refi Plus and Relief Refinance, and many mortgage lenders call it "The Obama Refi".

IF MY MORTGAGE IS HELD BY FANNIE MAE OR FREDDIE MAC, AM I INSTANTLY-ELIGIBLE FOR THE HOME AFFORDABLE REFINANCE PROGRAM?

No. There is a series of criteria. Having your mortgage held by Fannie or Freddie is just a pre-qualifier.

My mortgage is backed by Wells Fargo. Am I eligible for HARP?

It's possible that your mortgage is backed by Wells Fargo, but the more likely answer is that Wells Fargo is just your mortgage servicer; the bank that collects your payments. Wells Fargo backs very few of its own loans. Most loans for which payments are sent to Wells Fargo are backed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Double-check with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before assuming Wells Fargo backs your loan.

My mortgage is backed by Bank of America. Am I eligible for HARP?

Bank of America does back some of its own loans, but the more likely answer is that Bank of America is your mortgage servicer; the bank that collects your monthly mortgage payments. Bank of America backs very few of its own loans. For most loans for which payments are sent to Bank of America, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are the actual loan-backers. Double-check with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make sure Bank of America doesn't hold your loan.

My lender denied my HARP mortgage because my LTV is too high. What do I do?

Some banks are enforcing subtle variations of the official HARP program guidelines. The edits are small, but they're enough to cause some people to get denied who should otherwise have been approved. If you've been turned down for the HARP loan because of your loan-to-value, apply with a different bank and you may get different results

What is the mortgage rate for a HARP loan?

Mortgage rates for the HARP mortgage program are the same as for a "traditional" refinance. There is no "premium" for using the HARP program. Make sure to shop around, then -- just like you would with a non-HARP refinance. Rates can vary by as much as one-half percentage point between lenders.