Nearly 700,000 mortgage holders may be eligible for significant monthly savings by refinancing through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). More than 3 million loans have already been refinanced through HARP, a popular federal program designed to help homeowners refinance at today’s low mortgage rates, even if they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. However, despite the program’s success, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) believes 675,694 more loans may benefit from refinancing through HARP.
According to FHFA Director Mel Watt, there are “hundreds of thousands of borrowers who can still benefit from HARP and are essentially leaving money on the table by not taking advantage of the program.”
To illustrate the number of homeowners who likely qualify, the FHFA recently unveiled a map showing the numbers of eligible borrowers by ZIP code, county and metro area. The map is accessible through HARP.gov and by clicking on the image below.
The FHFA is hosting a series of town hall-style events in several of the cities hit hardest by the housing crisis including Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit and Miami. The Chicago event took place earlier this month, and the other events will take place in the near future. To find out more about the events, click here.
Why refinance through HARP?
HARP allows borrowers to refinance into a more affordable or stable mortgage. Most homeowners eligible for HARP reduce their monthly payments by lowering the interest rate, while other homeowners use HARP to convert their adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) into more predictable, fixed-rate home loans. Additionally, homeowners can shorten their loan terms, helping them build equity faster.
In Chicago, it is estimated that 36,000 residents are eligible to participate in HARP and could save $2,000-$3,000 annually by refinancing their mortgages.
How do I find out if I’m eligible?
To qualify for HARP:
- You must be current on your mortgage: You must have no late payments made 30 or more days past the due date in the past six months, and no more than one late payment made 30 or more days past the due date in the past 12 months.
- You must have a qualifying property type: Your home must be a primary residence, a 1-unit second home or a 1- to 4-unit investment property. Condos, PUDs and manufactured homes are eligible.
- Your mortgage must be backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae (most home loans are): Use the Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae online lookup tools or call Fannie Mae at 1-800-7Fannie or Freddie Mac at 1-800-FREDDIE to determine who owns your loan.
- You must have a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 80 percent or higher: To calculate your LTV, divide the amount of money you owe on your house by its value.
- Your current loan must have closed by May 31, 2009.