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Government Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)

If you need assistance and your home mortgage is underwater, the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) is one option for you to explore. It is a component of the federal governments Making Home Affordable program. Of course there are conditions that need to be met in order to eligible. Read more information on those criteria below. But if you satisfy them, your underwater or upside down mortgage may be eligible for a refinance through this program. Currently the program allows qualified borrowers to refinance a loan that ranges anywhere from 105 percent to as high as 125 percent of a home's total value.

Note that not every underwater loan qualifies for the HARP program. First you can’t be facing a foreclosure filing, or even on the road to foreclosure. If you have any delinquent monthly mortgage payments in the past 12 months you will automatically be disqualified from eligibility from HARP.

Another condition is that either of the government agencies of Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae need to own the home loan. That means that they may have bought the loan from your bank or lender, or from the company who you originally took out the loan from.

So this program is just an option. Your ability to apply for and take advantage of the federal government HARP program will depend on your past payment history and other factors including your credit score, the structure of the current home financing market, and specific lender and bank guidelines and regulations.

A common question is, Can it help everyone? The answer is no, according to Jason Bonarrigo, who is a senior mortgage banker with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage of Boston.

With that being said, Bonarrigo and Wells Fargo have closed HARP loans for underwater mortgages and experts say that it's worth reviewing all information on this option and investigating eligibility.

As with most loan, mortgage, and foreclosure assistance programs, the bottom line is that if refinancing through HARP (or any program) can help people save $300 or $400 off a monthly mortgage payment. This is significant enough it that it can sometimes make a difference between keeping and losing a home down the road to a foreclosure filing.

Ask your lender or mortgage servicer about the federal government Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).





By Jon McNamara

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