In an effort to help out homeowners who find themselves “underwater” (owing more money than their home is worth), President Obama announced changes to the 2009 Home Affordable Refinance Program (commonly known as HARP).
The new changes are scheduled to go into effect March 17, and will allow many more homeowners to be eligible to refinance their mortgages and take advantage of the record-low interest rates now being offered. Although it’s difficult to say with certainty, given current market interest rates, the best estimate is that by the end of 2013 HARP 2.0 refinances will help well over one million homeowners.
The initiative aims to address an ongoing problem of the housing crisis: That there are millions of homeowners who work hard and pay their mortgage every month, whose home values are plummeting through no fault of their own.
“These people need help and they need to be rewarded for continuing to make their mortgage payments in this hard economic time,” said Shawn Gerhardson with Waterstone Mortgage in Cambridge. “A more affordable mortgage payment every month would provide much needed relief to ‘cash-strapped’ families who are struggling to make ends meet.”
Other changes to the new HARP 2.0 Program are designed to streamline the process and eliminate costs to make it as easy as possible for current homeowner’s to refinance. The Obama administration is hoping to stem a growing trend of “walking away” from one’s mortgage (to simply stop paying the mortgage, deliberately allowing the house to fall into foreclosure).
In fact HARP 2.0 is unique because it is the only refinancing program that enables borrowers who are “underwater” to take advantage of refinancing benefits, regardless of the homes current value, in essence offering help to those who need it most. Other helpful changes include eliminating the requirement for a new appraisal (where there is a reliable automated valuation model (AVM) estimate) in order to refinance, which was both a time consuming and costly step in an already difficult process.
Do you qualify for the new HARP 2.0 Refinance Program?
• Do you have an existing mortgage must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009?
• Have you been current on your mortgage payments with no late payments in the past 12 months?
• To determine if you qualify for this program, visit www.homeloans-mn.com/harp2