March 2nd, 2010

Update1: HARP Receives One Year Extension — What’s the Point?



Update1: While many industry insiders have debated the success of the home affordable refinance program (HARP) — in fact, analysts at Barclays Capital referred to the program as a “failure” last week — one thing’s for sure, HARP will be extended another year. The expiration date is now slated for June 30, 2011.

According to the National Association of Realtors, “Since HARP began last April, it has refinanced 190,180 mortgages.” That’s a far cry from helping the 4-5 million homeowners that the program originally promised.

HARP was designed to cater to underwater homeowners who couldn’t qualify for private-market refinances due to their minimal or negative equity position.

With such little success, why extend the program any longer?

“[Federal Housing Finance Agency] FHFA has reviewed the current market situation and the state of mortgage insurance availability and has determined that the market conditions that necessitated the actions taken last year have not materially changed,” said DeMarco. “Accordingly, to support and promote market stability, and to encourage lenders and other mortgage market participants to fully adopt the HARP program, including the implementation of the October 2009 expansion of loan-to-value ratios (LTVs) to 125 percent, FHFA is authorizing the extension of HARP until June 30, 2011.”

Beyond unchanged market conditions, beyond the fact that swaths of underwater borrowers still exist, there are several fundamental reasons why borrowers aren’t refinancing and can’t refinance at the pace Washington had hoped.

Our friend Nick Timiraos at the Wall Street Journal explains that there are simple and fundamental roadblocks that are preventing more refinances (emphasis added):

Falling home prices have left many owners with little or no equity, making it harder to qualify for refinancing. Moreover, stricter lending standards and higher fees by banks and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and declining incomes have made it tougher and less attractive for borrowers to seek new loans.

In addition to these, small loan balances and job losses (a two-income home become a one-income home) are also reasons people don’t refinance.  Separately, on the surface it’s perplexing why more borrowers haven’t refinanced to historically-low mortgage rates, given the potential for substantial savings. History proves that rock-bottom rates are the main force behind past refi booms:

One indicator of the economic impact of refinancing: Loans that refinanced in 2009 will result in $3.4 billion in savings for consumers this year, according to a report by First American CoreLogic, a research firm based in Santa Ana, Calif. That will return an additional $17.2 billion in savings to borrowers over the next five years.

The last time mortgage rates were at current levels, in 2003, refinancing activity hit $2.9 trillion, according to trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance. Last year, refinance volume reached $1.2 trillion, the highest amount since 2003 but not nearly as much as expected, considering how low interest rates have fallen.

The reason behind the lack of refinancing seems to be the “perfect storm” of borrowers being denied refinances, and borrowers flat-out deciding against refinancing. Given the fact that this “perfect storm” is counteracting HARP’s success, was it worth keeping it around for another year?

If low rates are no longer the catalyst behind refis, and outside forces such as strict lending conditions and higher fees are preventing new refis, does HARP even have a purpose?

The original portion of this post was published on 03/02/10.

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168 Responses to “Update1: HARP Receives One Year Extension — What’s the Point?”

  1. realestatewonk (Jamie Smith Hopkins) Says: March 2nd, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    RT @hshassociates: HARP Receives 1 Yr Extension — Is It Worth It? 190,180 mortgages refinanced, far cry from 4-5 mill originally promised

  2. Kate Says: March 3rd, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I’m one of those people who SHOULD BE helped by HARP. We are underwater by $50,000. (Not counting our down payment, which is gone too.) But there are issues:
    – Although the Making Home Affordable program adjusted to 125 percent of loan-to-value from the original 105 percent, lenders AREN’T MAKING LOANS at that rate. I’ve talked to three or four, and they’ll only go as high as 105%. I need 120%. So how am I supposed to get a mortgage refinance with the program? The Obama administration needs to put pressure on these banks to truly lend at that rate — not the lip service we’re getting now.
    – In addition to being underwater, I am unemployed. I’ve been unemployed for 8 months, and the job market is beyond bleak. In addition, my husband is receiving a salary cut and may lose his job in a year. In order to get a 105% refinance, we will have to put additional money into the deal — to the tune of $11,000 or more. And the interest rate ain’t that great. So why would we want to do that when we have an uncertain financial future?

    This is precisely why the program is failing so far. Meanwhile, real estate prices in my city (in Nevada) continue to decline …

  3. Tim Manni Says: March 3rd, 2010 at 5:40 pm


    While we’re sorry your family is in the predicament you’re in, we want to thank you for sharing your situation because, as you say, this is where this program is failing you, and I assume others.

    You brought up an interesting point about lenders not refinancing borrowers who are past the 105% mark. I haven’t heard much about that — I’ll have to look into it — thanks for bringing that to our attention.

    Best of luck Kate, and keep us posted!


  4. NickTimiraos (Nick Timiraos) Says: March 3rd, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    RT @HSHassociates: HARP Receives 1 Yr Extension — What’s the Point?

  5. Jeff Says: March 5th, 2010 at 2:14 pm


    I feel your pain. I have been trying to refinance under HARP since March of 2009 with no luck. I meet all the criteria on the Making Homes Affordable Website but can not get a loan. I have perfect credit (~800). Make all my payments on time. My lender, Bank of America, says it can not help me because my loan is non-conforming and that I have a 2nd mortgage. I believe this is additional criteria that Bank of America has added on top of the HARP program because they have no interest in giving me a lower rate. Why should they? A lower payment doesn’t help their bottom line. I have also tried refinance outside of my current lender with no success. Everything is fine, I get an appraisal, get a good faith estimate. Then my file is submitted to the Fannie Mae DU Underwriting system and it comes back with a approval level called EA-II. The problem here is no lender wants to take on a EA-II loan. Nobody can tell me why I’m being denied. This is criminal. I wish there was someone looking out for the tax payers. The Big Boys got their bailout that they created.

  6. Tim Manni Says: March 5th, 2010 at 4:06 pm


    Thanks for following up with Kate’s comment. I think I may know why you’re hitting a snag: Your loan has to be owned by Fannie or Freddie for you to be able to participate in HARP. If your primary loan but your second mortgage isn’t, F&F’s hands are tied.

    Keep us posted, best of luck,

  7. Small Business Equiptment Financing Services USA Says: March 8th, 2010 at 8:26 am

    According to the National Association of Realtors, “Since HARP began last April, it has refinanced 190,180 mortgages & Bank of America, says it can not help me because my loan is non-conforming and that I have a 2nd mortgage. I believe this is additional criteria that Bank of America has added on top of the HARP program because they have no interest in giving me a lower rate.The post is good & very Informative.Thanks

  8. Matt Says: March 8th, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    This is good stuff. I am in the same situation with Bank of America. I have been denied a 125% LTV under HARP, but meet all of the guideline criteria. They have told me before that MI is causing my rejection and that no MI companies support HARP. Wrong – the MI company on my mortgage has documentation on their website explicitly stating their compliance with the HARP 125% LTV. When presenting this to Bank of America, they had no answer. Just simply stated that they don’t currently have a program for the 125% LTVs and that a lot of effort goes into creating a program. I told them that this was not an acceptable excuse. I have contacted my local congressman in an effort to apply pressure, but it has not helped yet. I urge you all to do the same.

    I have a hard time understanding what Bank of America has to gain by not refinancing my loan. I meet the criteria for the program, they do not own my loan, they are only the servicer, all of the necessary players are on board except them. Unbelievable.

  9. Cheryl Says: March 8th, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    My LTV is 106%, credit score >700, Freddie Mac insured – looks like I meet all requirements for HARP. However, my mortgage company tells me they cannot refinance my loan under HARP because my mortgage did not originate with them! Who does make these loans????

  10. Tim Manni Says: March 8th, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Hey Matt,

    That’s unfortunate. We have heard about MI snags in conjunction with the refi program in the past (not much lately) — from what I recall, it had to do with transferring the MI policy from the old loan to the newly-refinanced one.

    I’m going to look into this further, we’ll be in touch.

    Thanks for commenting, keep us posted,

  11. Tim Manni Says: March 8th, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Hey Cheryl,

    You should look over the eligibility requirements over at

    If you qualify, your servicer should comply.

    Keep me posted, thanks,

  12. Cheryl Says: March 8th, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I meet all of the requirements. However, Chase tells me they are unable to refinance because my loan did not originate with them. I can’t find anything in the guidelines about this. Until the banks are forced to cooperate and stop making up their own rules as they go, the program is not going to work.

  13. Frustrated & Needing REFI Says: March 12th, 2010 at 1:10 am

    We are frustrated about the HARP’s UNhelpfulness and don’t know where to turn. Our situation is unique and dire. Spouse took out INTEREST-ONLY loan after initial 3-year ARM came due. Received $300,000 int-only loan in 2007, but later that year discovered he had Stage IV lung cancer and was forced to retire & go into intensive treatment (surg., chemo, radiation). Our income has dwindled to Social Security only. Chase keeps telling us that we QUALIFY, but even if we refinance, our payments will go UP a couple hundred a month & we will owe them at least $700 in refi “fees” & we’ll need an appraisal. Even then, at best, all we’ll achieve is getting a FIXED loan (instead of INT-ONLY) at an interest rate about ONE-HALF POINT lower than our current rate. So we’d get a lower rate but OWE MORE every month on a house that’s plummeted in value?! We don’t know where to turn and don’t know how much longer spouse may even survive his terminal illness.

    IN WHAT WAY is any of this “helpful” to the struggling homeowner who, through no real fault of their own, finds themselves underwater regarding home valuation, and at risk of losing their home, or if they do manage to sell, may end up losing several hundred thousand dollars? We’re too old to re-earn our retirement. HARP program is supposed to HELP honest, credit-worthy folks like us, WHO HAVE ALWAYS PAID OUR BILLS! Our FICO scores are in the mid-800s! WHERE IS SOME HELP FOR US?

  14. Charles Says: March 14th, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I am unable to get Aurora Loan Services to honor the 125% LTV refinance under the HARP. They are only going up to 95% and want me to come up with the difference. I suspect they just want me to continue paying the full amount as it works for them. Anyone able to get a Fannie Mae backed loan to honor the 125%? Anyone able to get over 100% LTV refinance?

    These government programs are all sizzle, but there is no steak.

  15. Charles Says: March 14th, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Wow, after reading all these comments thoroughly, I realize that none of these banks care to implement the programs. The government just handed them money with no strings, what else should we expect.

  16. Tim Manni Says: March 15th, 2010 at 10:04 am


    You bring up an interesting point — I wonder how many lenders are actually honoring the 125% LTV cap. As you said, it seems several lenders aren’t refinancing that high. Did Aurora receive TARP money? Lenders only have to participate in HARP if they received TARP money.

    I’ll have to look into this more, thanks for commenting,

  17. Michelle Says: March 19th, 2010 at 9:07 am

    My lender, US Bank, is honoring the 125% LTV cap. However, I have to pay out around $700 (app fee, credit report fee, and appraisal fee) before I even find out if my loan will be approved! I’m trying to save money – not throw it out the window. I have a feeling our appraisal could possible come in a little too low to qualify….what then?!? We put over $100,000 down on our house in 2006, and now I’m worried that it could have dropped in value way below what we owe….

  18. Tim Manni Says: March 19th, 2010 at 12:19 pm


    Thanks for contributing to this dialogue!

    Keep your head up, unfortunately being an underwater borrower (owing more than your home is worth) seems to be the norm in this current marketplace.

    Thanks for commenting, keep us posted,

  19. Tom Says: March 19th, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I was contacted by our broker at Wachovia/Wells Fargo, who was the originator of our loan. He explained the HARP program in general, and said the offer was a rate of 5% with zero closing costs and no appraisal required. Although our home has lost about 10% of it’s value since we purchased it in 2007, we still have quite a bit of equity (at least 30%), so I was surprised to hear we even qualified for such a program. The fact that the broker was cold-calling looking to get people into this program makes me think the government must be putting pressure on these guys to make deals in this program.

    Although I had been considering a refi, I have heard so many horror stories about endless document requests, unresponsive brokers, etc., that I had been putting it off. While I could have secured a slightly lower rate outside of HARP, the additional costs and hassle outweighed the potential savings, particularly since we most likely will move within the next 3-5 years.

    My only concern is whether or not this will negatively impact my credit score. My understanding is that HAMP participants have seen scores drop by 100 points or more, but I have not heard if there is any impact for those refinancing through HARP.

  20. nicole Says: March 19th, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    I’ve been on the phone for the last 5 days with my mortage company (coldwell banker mortgage), fannie mae, and 888-995-hope (plus the ‘counseling group’ they patched me through to which was not helpful). Basically my first mortgage, backed by fannie mae, doesn’t qualify for HARP because it was a stated income loan….the mortage rep (actually the manager as I escallated the call) said ‘Fannie Mae announcement stated Alt A products are ineligible’…apparently stated income is an Alt A product. This makes absolutely no sense to me. What does that have to do with the current situation and qualifying for the program if we intend a full doc HARP refi?!

  21. Tim Manni Says: March 23rd, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Hey Tom,

    Well your story isn’t one we’re used to hearing everyday. I don’t know your particulars, but a 5% refi with no closing costs sounds like a good deal. The fact that you have an eager lender sounds like a good thing, however, I agree, a little odd. We hear similar stories about those “endless document requests, unresponsive brokers,” but they have, for the most part, centered around HAMP not HARP as much.

    The impact on credit scores have really only happened to HAMP borrowers (as far as I know).

    Since there’s apparently no cost to refi, this sounds like something to look into further.

    Keep us posted,

  22. Tim Manni Says: March 23rd, 2010 at 5:05 pm


    I have to look into Alt A products and HARP some more. I’ll have to do some research and get back to you.


  23. Lukasz Z Says: March 24th, 2010 at 1:23 pm


    I purchased my home back in 2006. Since then it has dropped in value and I am underwater. I qualify for the 125% LTV HARP but unfortunately Bank of America has been giving me the runaround for months.

    I have been in contact with 5 different representatives at BoA and every week/month it’s the same story, they do not currently support the 125% LTV HARP program and I need to call back next week or month depending who I talk to or require me to pay $50k so I can meet their 105% LTV program. They are not denying its existence, they are just not offering it. It drives me nuts how many excuses I’ve heard so far.

    Has anyone been able to get the 125% refinance through HARP through BoA? I cannot find anything or anyone who has on the internet… Sad. It’s been a month since last time I contacted them so I’ll be trying again today but I doubt I will have any good news.

  24. Tim Manni Says: March 24th, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Hey Lukasz Z,

    You’ve inspired me — I have heard so much about lenders not offering the 125% LTV that I need to investigate this more. What good did the expansion (to 125% LTV) do if no one is honoring it?

    A couple questions:
    1. Is your loan 100% owned by Fannie or Freddie?
    2.Is your home more than 125% underwater?
    3. Has your lender flat-out refused you?

    Keep us posted, and good luck.

  25. Jennifer H Says: April 7th, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I have been trying to find out why my loan is not eligible for the 125% refi as well. Bank of America only tells me that it is non-conforming but can’t give me a reason why. I do have a second, but cannot figure out to determine who owns my loan (my first is owned by Fannie Mae). Does anybody know how to find out who owns the second? It was also my understanding (because I was told this by B of A) that they couldn’t refi the second anyways so why does it matter who owns it? Can anybody help? We have never missed a payment, and are really just wanting to take advantage of today’s lower rates.

  26. Tim Manni Says: April 8th, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Jennifer H,

    What I would suggest is this, go to this link:

    It’s a set of FAQs on the Making Home Affordable program in general, HARP, HAMP, 2MP (second mortgage) and HAFA. The link above will allow you to look up your to see if Fannie or Freddie owns it.

    The following link will help to answer some of your questions regarding your second mortgage:

    Hope this helps,

  27. Telack Says: April 8th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I have a 5 year interest only ARM loan with Wells Fargo set to adjust in less than a year.

    After inquiring about their HARP program, the representative at Wells said they can refinance my loan at 6% (current rates are around 5%) and it will cost $4700 in closing costs. I asked the reason for the 6% rate and they said it was because I had no equity in the home. My loan amount is $210K and its worth around $170K. I have perfect credit (~800) and have never been late on my payments. Aren’t they supposed to offer the current rates on a 30 year fixed if refinancing via the HARP program? Also should they be charging so much in refinance fees?

  28. Tim Manni Says: April 8th, 2010 at 5:16 pm


    Thanks for commenting. We did some calculations and some research for you. It seems as though you’re about 20%-24% underwater (hard to determine for sure w/ out exact amounts). While the amount of fees you’re being charged doesn’t appear all that high (about 2.25%-2.50% of the loan amount), your HARP refi should bring your rate down to current levels — 6% seems high.

    You should look into another lender to determine if you can get a better deal. Our understanding is that if your loan is Fannie or Freddie owned or guaranteed, any lender can refi it.

    Good Luck, keep me posted,

  29. Lela Says: April 13th, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Where can I get a list of HARP approved lenders? My loan is owned by Freddie Mac and my current lender/servicer/bank has agreed to refinance it under HARP (after being denied for one year), but I am looking for a better interest rate. I’ve wasted a lot of time calling different lenders only to find they don’t do HARP refinances. Thanks, Lela

  30. Tim Manni Says: April 14th, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Hey Lela,

    You just have to shop around. I would try going to to see if they provide a list try here:

    According to, “Keep in mind that all servicers for loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are required to participate with respect to those loans.” (


  31. Mindy L Says: April 16th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    I just closed on my HARP refinance today with Chase Bank on a house we moved into 2 years ago. The entire process took less than a month. Since our previous mortgage was with Chase, we had to submit very little documentation. No appraisal was needed. Very simple and painless process. All that was required was a $400 application fee and $35 at closing.

    I was very nervous because we had tried to refinance with Chase last year and got the endless document requests and long wait time, only to be denied.

    We received something about the HARP program in the mail and went to our local Chase bank. Our loan officer told us he has never seen someone denied if they meet all of the qualifications. I was very leary at first and didn’t want to throw away another $400. Luckily, our loan officer was very convincing! Take the time and go down to the bank and meet with someone face to face. It paid off for us! We closed at 5.3%.

    I wanted to let people know that it IS possible.

  32. Tim Manni Says: April 19th, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Mindy L,

    The biggest question I have is “why was this time different from a year ago?” Why did Chase give you the run around, only to refi your mortgage one year later?

    Thanks for sharing that, I know a lot of our readers are soooo frustrated!


  33. corinne Says: April 21st, 2010 at 10:43 am

    wells fargo contacted me and said I qualified for a HARP loan. I was working with a loan officer who left me hanging because he quit. then, a very kind rep said she would help. I resubmitted my pay stubs and checking account info. I was told everything was fine. then all of a sudden I receive a letter stating, ” value or type of collateral insufficient, borrower doesnt meet investor requirements for program requested. after the underwriter said all was fine, how can they just ditch me like this? no one, including management is returning my calls. do I have any recourse?

  34. Tim Manni Says: April 21st, 2010 at 5:20 pm


    I would suggest you find a different lender. How far underwater is your loan?

    Keep me posted,

  35. John Wright Says: April 22nd, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Are you sick of getting the run around by Bank of Defrauding America concerning your modification!?


    If it walks like a piggy, talks like a piggy, by golly it’s a PIGGY!

    BofA and it’s CEO Brian Moynihan reminds me of that song by John Lennon and George Harrison titled “Piggies” I invite you to listen to this song on youtube and see if it appropriately fits.

    Have you seen the little piggies
    Crawling in the dirt
    And for all the little piggies
    Life is getting worse
    Always having dirt to play around in.

    Have you seen the bigger piggies
    In their starched white shirts
    You will find the bigger piggies
    Stirring up the dirt
    Always have clean shirts to play around in.

    In their ties with all their backing
    They don’t care what goes on around
    In their eyes there’s something lacking
    What they need’s a damn good whacking.

    Everywhere there’s lots of piggies
    Living piggy lives
    You can see them out for dinner
    With their piggy wives
    Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.

    John Wright vs. Bank of America Lawsuit at:

    When I filed my lawsuit against Bank of America, myself and United Law Group thought of the many others out there in the same situation. It was then that we decided to educate the public on what these piggy banks are doing, as well as unite us all together as one voice. Please help me turn this David vs. Goliath modification process, into a Goliath vs. Goliath.

    Please stand with me and United Law Group and send an email to Bank of America that states that we will no longer tolerate their potentially illegal, fraudulent, irregular and abusive business methods.

    Divided we might have fell America, but united we must stand!

    Please send your email directly to Bank of America and include the following:

    1. Your name
    2. Your complaint concerning your experience with Bank of America.
    3. Please end your email “I support John Wright vs. BofA Lawsuit!”
    4. Please send a copy of your email to
    5. Please send your email to both BofA link below and the CEO email

    BofA Linked Email:

    CEO Brian Moynihan:

    Matthew Task, Executive Relations
    Office of the CEO

  36. corinne Says: April 22nd, 2010 at 9:08 am

    tim, thanks so much for posting so quickly…. here is the scoop

    1st mortg 84,000
    house appraised 85,000
    2nd mortg, different bank, 43,000
    credit: good

    according to HARP I am within the guidelines. according to wells, I am okay until someone else got a hold of my paper work

    I am thinking of going in person as Mindy did. seems as though it depends on who you talk to, who understands the program as to whether you get the proper results.

  37. Tim Manni Says: April 22nd, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Hey Corinne,

    No problem, thanks for sharing your situation with our readers.

    We’ve heard from other readers (like Mindy) as well as from media sources (New York Times) that face-to-face meetings tend to produce the best results. If you know you qualify, then you should be able to get it done. Finding the right person to help you is proving to be the hardest part.

    Good luck and keep us posted,

  38. John Wright Says: May 5th, 2010 at 1:20 am

    You bet! You can find more about my story at under the John Wright vs. Bank of America lawsuit.

    Thank you.

  39. Jim Miller (Active Air Force) Says: May 7th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Wow! I cant believe it, a lot of these comments are like reading my own story. The quick version: I am in the military (E-7) so its not as though im going to lose my job anytime soon. I am sitting at 119% LTV, with close a 6.5% interest rate. Cred rating of 705. Fannie mae backed loan, Chase is the originator. April 7th applied for a Refi under HARP. They (Chase) said sure and then charged me almost $400.00 for application fee. My (unaccurate, square footage way off) appraisal came back and showed me at the 119% LTV…after numerous unreturned calls the the rep working my REFI i went there to talk to her in person. She told me she would call me if I didnt want to wait. The yesterday…a week later… she called me and said they have tried and tried but cannot get the refi approved because im at 119%… I am completley current on my mortgage without even a single late payment since getting the loan in 2006. No second mortgage, fixed rate…and again…complely current. She even suggested before telling me they wouldnt refi me that I could skip a payment…then close and miss another. This was a perfect opportunity to knock out every bit of debt I have..and save some money every month after they quoted me a new fixed APR at 5.5%. Thank gosh i didnt listen and made my payment last month! Hang tough everyone, the banks caused this problem, and we are paying the price…just remember who said they would help…and who didn’t! Thanks, makes me feel better reading all these comments!

  40. Tim Manni Says: May 7th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Jim Miller,

    Thanks so much for your comments and your service to our country!


  41. John Wright Says: May 13th, 2010 at 1:50 am

    Hi everyone! I am really excited about my new blog that I created for everyone going through what I am going through. There is a lot of information about Bank of America and home loan modification. Please feel free to join me there or send me an email if you have any questions.
    It is:

  42. Tim Manni Says: May 13th, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Thanks John

  43. Mr. P. Says: May 24th, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Here’s my story. My loan-to-value is about 100-105%. I have perfect credit. My loan is a Freddie loan. I have just a single mortgage for the home that is my residence. For weeks I had been receiving advertisements from the lender encouraging me to call them about refinancing under HARP. Based on my research on HARP program and encouragements from lender, I was confident that I would be able sail through refinancing without any problems.

    Well today I called the lender and they agreed that I qualified for the HARP program. The only issue was that the interest rate that they offered me was about 0.75% higher (APR) than the market rate. The rates that they publish daily on their web site are very close to the average for my area. I asked why the rate was so high and the representative said HARP guarantees that the lender will make you the loan but not the rate. So I ask, what’s the incentive for lender to put people into lower rate mortgages where they will make less money? Without some restriction that forces lenders to offer a fair rate, this program is totally useless. Thoughts anyone?

  44. Stacy Says: May 27th, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Hey all – I too am fed up with this rubbish. I am trying to find a HARP lender. I went to my now mortgage compnay (OCwen) and was told they use Nation Star for refinance. OK – so I contact Nation Star – and they are only doing Fannie Mae for Harp and not Freddie Mac. Ummm – hello? Does that not sound a little odd? Our original lender was Taylor, Bean, and Whitaker – they went belly up – so there is no way I can refinance with my original.

    Any other suggestions?

    We owe 159,000 on the house – it will prob appraise for 140,00…. We both have pretty good credit.

    Thanks in advance!!

  45. Tim Manni Says: May 27th, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Hey Stacy,

    That does sound odd since HARP is a Fannie and Freddie program. I don’t know if I’d settle for that answer. I would ask to speak to another employee at that office or find another lender.

    Let me know if you have any more questions, thanks,

  46. Camille Says: June 14th, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Hello Tim. I am hoping you can shed some possible light on this situation or direct me to someone who can.
    I own a home in Arizona in which the original note (the current note) is a conventional 30 year fixed note, with an original LTV of 80%. I have paid on time every month on this note, since the beginning of it, in summer of 2007. I bought this brand new model home from the builder, Pulte Homes. I am an upstanding citizen that has a FICO of approximately 800, excellent debt to income ratio and excellent cash reserve, where all of this actually “overqualifies” me for the loan.
    I went onto the Freddie/Fannie HARP related website and found out this property is a Freddie Mac property eligible for HARP (at either 105 or 125% I believe). My current note is at 6.5% interest rate, so I contacted the lender, Chase, to see if I could modify the rate. The first thing they did, unbenounced to me was to run my credit while on the phone and they found that yes, my credit is excellent. However, right after the loan officer ran my credit, she said she put my address into the computer and within seconds told me that I am INELIGIBLE for any type or rate reduction as my loan is “bifurcated”.
    I have absolutely no idea what she is talking about, and the loan officer does not understand the term “bifurcated”. I almost feel as if I am being used or extorted as Chase knows that I can afford the 6.5% interest rate on my home and is rejecting me for some ridiculous dis-regulated reason. The loan officer would not supply any other information, would not put this in writing or email, so I told her that this was ridiculous, and that I would be contacting a real estate attorney, the oversite committee in the White House, Senator John McCain, and various other governing officials to get to the bottom of this. I also reminded her of the Freedom of Information Act, and that I would be demanding information related to my current home loan and their justification standards disclosed for my rejection.
    Any suggestions you might have to pursue this further would be great. I am feeling almost “extorted” and discriminated against for being an individual who has the means and income to continue to pay my mortgage of a rate of 6.5% on time. Thank you. Camille

  47. Tim Manni Says: June 15th, 2010 at 12:40 pm


    The definition of “Bifurcated” means “divided into two branches.” That says to me that they have found out they you either have mortgage insurance, or there’s a second loan. It’s hard to tell from the info you provided but how much did you put down? I just read from a pro who commented on one of our posts that, to his knowledge, no lenders are refinancing loans with mortgage insurance. I haven’t confirmed that info, but that could be a big clue if it’s true.

    Please keep me posted so we can help, thanks,

  48. Camille Says: June 15th, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Hi Tim,
    Thank you for the information.
    I do NOT have a second mortgage on the property—NEVER have and NEVER intend to!!!
    I put down an initial 20% on the home, thus an 80% LTV and I do NEVER have ANY mortgage insurance nor ANY requirements for such. It is a straight fixed conventional loan from day 1 at a fixed rate without any PMI requirements.
    I have decided to pursue this to the fullest extent possible and “challenge” Chase on their decision, even if it means I get to pursue it to the fullest extent of the law. I have yet to receive ANY follow up correspondence from them with any facts nor specifics, as promised.

    Thank you for your interest.
    Any insights would be helpful.

  49. Tim Manni Says: June 16th, 2010 at 8:23 am


    No problem, glad you responded. I agree that you should steadily pursue their claim, especially since they claimed your loan was “bifurcated.” I would try to talk to a different rep at Chase. I’ve heard so many of borrowers getting a different answer every time they call.

    Keep me posted.


  50. Beth Says: June 24th, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    I spent about 5 hours today trying to get a HARP refinance. My application was denied because I have PMI. I got help from the Making Home Affordable helpline, who told the lender (GMAC) that loans with PMI are eligible for HARP. GMAC said they won’t do HARP for loans with PMI, and that they are not required to do so because they didn’t accept TARP money. The Making Home Affordable website has no information about lenders being permitted to deny HARP loans either because the borrower has PMI or because the lender did not accept bailout money. Are these requirements true? Are they published somewhere? Can I get a HARP refi through some other lender?

  51. Tim Manni Says: June 25th, 2010 at 2:26 pm


    Thanks for reaching out. I’ve read that banks that took TARP money are required to modify loans under HAMP, but I haven’t read anything that says refis are mandatory.

    I’ve been looking into this PMI issue for a while now but I can’t find anything concrete. I’m going to reach out to some mortgage professionals because you wouldn’t believe how many people have the same problem with PMI.

    Thanks, we’ll be in touch,

  52. Miranda Says: June 29th, 2010 at 6:31 am

    I am a co-borrower on my mom’s mtge. My mom is retired. We are trying to get me removed from her mtge through refi and have been given a run-around by Chase. She was initially told they would process her app as a HARP loan, then, after months of document requests, they denied her claiming that HARP does not permit removal of a co-borrower unless there has been a death or divorce. Is that true?
    After several efforts to reach Chase to get more information (e.g., does she qualify for any other loan progs),I am gearing up to launch a complaint because Chase should not be taking app fees from people it knows will not qualify for their mtg (nonsense about underwriters making the final decision does not sway me if theloan program has fixed guidelines).
    If anyone has contact information where I can file a compliant and suggestions about other avenues for us (I wnat to buy my own home but can’t because of the co-borrower with my mom) please let me know.

  53. Tim Manni Says: June 29th, 2010 at 10:01 am


    I’m not sure if that’s true, I’ve never look into that specifically.

    I’ll have to look into that.

    Thanks for commenting,

  54. Denice Says: June 29th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Wondering what you found out about PMI and Harp? My leander said this is a secondary rule for their company, can they do this? Seems to me I qualify for HARP, but not with rules eatablish by my leander. To remove PMI you need to have 80% LTV, if that were so then I wouldn’t qualify for HARP.


  55. Tim Manni Says: June 29th, 2010 at 2:45 pm


    I sent out an email to a PMI expert, I’m waiting for a response.

    From the research I’ve done, and from what I’ve been able to comprehend, if you have an MI policy when you go to refinance, a new MI policy has to be issued, but the coverage should not change. What I don’t know is, is the lender or the mortgage insurer unwilling to write that new policy?

    I’ll reach out to you when I hear or learn more (so many readers are having this same issue).

    Thanks for checking back in, sorry I don’t have more info for you,

  56. Arynne Says: June 29th, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your help in finding out answers for everyone. When you talk with your PMI expert, could you get their input on the roadblock we have been getting from our lender, which is that our loan currently has lender-paid PMI, and the lender-paid aspect is the reason they won’t refinance under the program (even though all other aspects qualify)? We even offered to start to pay for the PMI ourselves with the refi (understanding that the program facilitated transfer or rewrite of PMI on loans where it existed), since the overall rate reduction would make such a difference in our financial picture even with that expense. But they said that wasn’t allowed either. We are very frustrated. It certainly feels like they are looking to find reasons not to do HARP.

    Thanks for any help you can provide!

  57. Tim Manni Says: June 30th, 2010 at 10:48 am


    No problem. I haven’t heard back from the gentleman I email, but you can bet I’ll let everyone know if I do. I’m doing some more research this morning into the issue. Here’s some of what I’m reading, you can check it out for yourself if you like: (start as page 12, question 34)

    There’s also this:

    “The refin ance initiative allows a borrower with a mortgage held or guaranteed by Fannie Mae (Freddie Mac) to refiance into a new mortgage that would be held or guaranteed by Fannie Mae (Freddie Mac). The key characteristic of this initiative is that the borrower need not obtain additional credit enhancement (such as private mortgage insurance) on the refinanced loan in excess of what is already in place for that loan. That is, the overall credit exposure of the Enterprise would not increase after the refinance. In fact, credit risk would be reduced because, after the refinance, the borrower would have a lower monthly mortgage payment and/or a more stable mortgage payment.” (from:

    In many over the docs I have read, it says that the mort insurer in encouraged to work closely with the servicer. I believe that entails working with the same servicer for the refi as with the original loan. Having LPMI may complicate things, I’m not sure, I haven’t encountered LPMI in the realm of this discussion yet.

    Hopefully these docs can shed some light for you. A tip: type “mortgage insurance in the search box at the top of the pdf to more quickly locate the portions of the doc that speak specifically about MI.

    Good luck, keep in touch,

  58. Mario Says: July 8th, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Bank of America does not offer Harp programs, what they offer is MHA (making home affordable) which is differnt. I did not qualify because under MHA because of the PMI. They said that there is a second phase that qualifies all loans with PMI. Non conforming loans under MHA simply means its not with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

  59. Mario Says: July 8th, 2010 at 10:51 am

    MHA refinance can only be done by the current mortgage company while any bank who offers HARP can refinance it regardless if the loan is with them or not.

  60. Tim Manni Says: July 8th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks Mario.

  61. Scott Says: July 13th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I’m beginning to think the United States is one big coast-to-coast criminal enterprise. I too, qualify for HARP, make good money, and have pristine credit. Wells Fargo has just prequalified me, but of course since I’m at the LTV of 125%, I have to pay a higher interest rate than the current historic lows. Between the closing costs, and that odious mortgage insurance, I’m not certain it’s worth it in the long run. To top it off, I live in Florida, where the housing market cannot possibly get any worse without us finally sinking straight into the bowels of hell. I also queried BOA because I’ve been a loyal customer for years, and have a good chunk of change with them. They shot me down right away, so in turn, I’m moving all my accounts to our credit union. Doing business in this country is anything but a pleasure, and it is the antithesis of being consumer-oriented.

  62. AJ Says: July 13th, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I tried a normal refi last fall with Chase but was denied since my income was heavily based on commission and needed two years of pay stubs.

    I started the HARP process this May with Chase and have been getting a runaround ever since. My wife and I have scheduled 5 closing dates and watched them all pass and now only have 3 days left on our interest rate lock and before our current month’s mortgage is due. I am being told that tomorrow is again scheduled but I won’t believe it until someone shows up at my door and I sign my name on every square inch of paper that they put in front of me. I googled “harp refi problems chase” and found this website. I wish I would’ve read some of the comments here before choosing to go ahead with the HARP refi. Just the stress placed on me, my relationship with my wife, and the time lost at my job has made me second guess whether or not the $250 – $300 a month savings will be worth it. I took a job with a steady paycheck versus heavy commission so I could try to start the refi process again and my pay cut was about the same as we’ll be saving. Needless to say a lot is riding on this closing. I sure hope it works out but at this point I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

    As far as Chase goes, it seems like the people who I spoke with during the beginning of the process were very eager to help you at first, but as soon as you get close to needing actual information they would back off or not respond. Not a single rescheduling of my closings have had anything to do with me. Two were blamed on bad numbers put into the system (human error), one on the system being “down”, and another was because my wife and I didn’t have a copy of our marriage certificate on file. This was 6 weeks after we had already signed a document saying that my wife’s maiden name was different when we originally made the loan 2 years ago because we had been married. You’d think that someone would catch something like those problems in the early stages so my wife and I wouldn’t have to reschedule our lives 5 different times when we thought we would be closing. It wasn’t until the 11th hour, or should I say 11:59 and 59 seconds, that I finally reached someone who was willing to speak with me in real terms. Both her and the manager she put me through to were both very helpful. I will know tomorrow whether or not they were just being nice or actually can do something to help me. I have go through two processers, two sales people, and two title companies to get to where I’m at. Some have even left for vacation and I didn’t know until I sent them an e-mail and received an auto-response. I am not the type of person to remain calm when I know I am being mistreated but they have so much power that you simply cannot loose your cool with people who are dealing with something so personally important to the next 30 years of your life.

    Hopefully this information will help others who are considering a HARP re-fi, especially with Chase.

  63. Matt Says: July 15th, 2010 at 3:16 am

    So much misinformation passed around.

    1. The government didn’t “Give’ banks all ths money. They made them take the money as a loan at 5% interest.

    2. The problem unannounced is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are finding loopholes to make lenders repurchase loans they refinanced as harp or hasp loans even though they are “eligible” for Harp or Hasp loans according to the guidelines. A repurchase involves paying a penalty of the amount of the loan and the lender now has the liability on their books instead of on Fannie’s or Freddie’s. With rates below 5% and requirement to pay back TARP funds at 5% interest , how is this not a losing prop? If the lender does not refinance the Fannie or Freddie loan, there is no danger of being forced to repurchase it. Fannie and Freddie are powerful and too dangerous to tangle with.

    3. 125% can only be done through the lender who is servicing the loan. Loans that received “expanded approvals” EA-1, EA-2, EA-3, and are owned by fannie and freddie are not eligible for the program per fannie mae and freddie mac guidelines. So a large number of he people who have Fannie and Freddie loans who think they are eligible are not, even though the ea-1 ea-2 designation was generally given to marginal credit, income, or low to no downpayment loans.

    4. If a loan has PMI and is serviced by another lender, the PMI companies will not insure with any bank but the servicer. Fannie Mae/ Freddie Mac will not accept loans that currently have PMI without reissue of the PMI.

    5. LPMI can be reissued on harp/hasp loans, again the PMI companies will only reissue with the original lender and under specific guidelines.

    6. If a lender approves a loan under HARP or HASP and the second mortgage holder refuses to keep the lien subordinate, the lender cannot deliver the loan to Fannie or Freddie as it violates the terms of Hasp and Harp.

    7. For those who most need the program, people with high ltv’s, second mortgages well over the value, and damaged credit, there are adjustment set be Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the rate or costs that can increase the rate.625% or costs by almost 2 points. So while being eligible, there is no savings. Additionally PMI companies will only allow reissue if the amount of costs and prepaids is less than $5,000 or 4% of the loan balance (the lesser of the two).

    8. The taxpayers are footing the bill for any loans that Fannie or Freddie guranty if they go bad. Many people want lower rates or a HASP modification because their other loans are too high. Fannie and Freddie and the taxpayers should not be required to lose money because a consumer isn’t willing to file bankruptcy to alleiviate the debts causing the lions share of the trouble. Why should it be expected that the taxpayers have to supliment a persons housing so they can continue to pay the full boat to evryone else.

    9. The reason rates for mortgages are so low is because Fannie and Freddie loans are securitized on the secondary market. This means sold as safe, low return investments. And our pension plans, IRA’s, 401k’s, etc. Invest in these securities. Refinancing of a fannie or Freddie loan pays off the debt to one investor and then asks new investors to take the new loan. If the security and assurance that the new loans are sound isn’t guranteed, there is no affordable mortgage rates. Remember, the problem started with Liberals in Washington forcing Fannie and Freddie to make loans they resisted because empirical data showed the level of default was far too high. When Fannie resisted, the sitting CEO was ousted and replaced by Franklin Raines (Obama Crony). Franklin Raines made annual bonuses of up to 70 million dollars after allowing the standards to change. While he was bankrupting Fannie and collecting 70 million dollar bonuses. Did you ever hear Obama criticize Franklin Raines for taking absurd bonuses? No. So why then did he demonize others for making a couple of hundred thousand?

    Anyone following any of this?

  64. Tim Manni Says: July 19th, 2010 at 10:25 am


    Thanks so much for sharing, keep us posted!


  65. jessica Says: July 22nd, 2010 at 12:07 am

    I am getting mixed messages about eligibility for the HARP program. I own a property in Ca but live in Co. My original loan is with Wells Fargo and a mortgage consultant said we didn’t qualify for HARP due to non-owner occupancy. However, the original loan was owner occupied and it looks as though on the fannie mae and the making home affordable websites that investment properties can qualify. Please advise :)

  66. Tim Manni Says: July 22nd, 2010 at 8:55 am


    According to HARP’s website (the FAQ section —, it states, “You are the owner-occupant of a one- to four-unit home.”

    Thanks for your question,

  67. AJ Says: July 22nd, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Finally signed my paperwork on the 6th attempt. Just waiting for confirmation that the title company received everything now but I’m 99% sure I’m good to go. They took my money so I better be good or I’m going to be a very unhappy camper.

  68. Tim Manni Says: July 22nd, 2010 at 12:59 pm


    Thanks for keeping us posted! When you say “they took my money,” who do you mean?


  69. Ian Says: July 22nd, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Hi Tim,

    My mortgage was with Taylor, Bean, and Whitaker who were disbanded by the government for fraudlent business practices. My mortgage was then dumped on Cenlar, who may have been overwhelmed after being inundated with mortgages, but were nonetheless useless. Cenlar does not originate loans and therefore cannot help refinance.

    I have one mortgage and it is backed by Freddie Mac.

    Have you found any company that will refinance through HARP loans serviced by another company? Or has anybody found help?


  70. Tim Manni Says: July 22nd, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Hey Ian,

    Thanks for commenting. First thing: Who’s your servicer? All servicers of Fannie or Freddie-backed loans are required to participate according to Making Home Affordable. Definitely go to this link and read numbers 1-3:

    Let me know so we can move forward with finding you an answer.


  71. AJ Says: July 30th, 2010 at 4:55 pm


    I had to pay off a portion of my principal over the 115% LTV amount equal to about 2.5% of my value. I’m just glad that it wasn’t in the form of bank fees but still have to wait about 21 months to make up the difference in my out of pocket to close versus what I would’ve paid had I not refinanced.


  72. Tim Manni Says: August 1st, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Hey AJ,

    So you had to down some of your negative equity for the bank to refinance? Was it a HARP refinance or a private-market refinance that the bank did on their own?

    Check out this post:

    Thanks, good hearing from you,

  73. Kevin Says: August 2nd, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Hi Tim,

    My wife and I have a mortgage serviced through B of A and backed by Fannie. The B of A customer service is terrible so we are trying to refi with Wells under the HARP program to lower our rate. Our note was based on a $189,900 appraisal but we didn’t have the 20% down so we financed $163,500. We currently pay PMI so Wells recommended we have B of A remove the PMI since we now owe $150k. B of A won’t remove the PMI unless we have another appraisal showing we have 20% equity. I don’t believe we do, as our house has declined in value, it’s closer to $150k.
    Are we stuck paying PMI forever if BofA bases equity on the current value? We want to move away from BofA because the customer service is terrible and we are at a 6.1% rate. WF has 5% rate and I’m much happier with their service. We aren’t asking for handouts, we’ve been paying PMI for 6 years ($73 per mo.) and just want to refinance under HARP.

    We appreciate any insight as we feel trapped in our own home. Thanks in advance,

  74. AJ Says: August 2nd, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Yes, I had to pay down my loan a bit to make it work under HARP guidelines, which only allowed for 115% loan-to-value to be financed but a max of 125% if you paid the difference on your own. Luckily I was able to get all of the normal bank fees paid in the form of credits and a slightly higher rate so all of what I paid went to the principal and not to the bank.


  75. Tim Manni Says: August 3rd, 2010 at 8:37 am


    I didn’t know that: HARP will refi a loan @ 115% LTV, and up to 125% LTV, but you have to pay it down to 115%. Is that how it works?


  76. AJ Says: August 3rd, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Yes, that’s my understanding and seemingly what happened in my case.


  77. Tim Manni Says: August 4th, 2010 at 8:16 am


    Sounds like you got a “cash-in” refi:

    Maybe when all is said and done we can speak about you writing a guest blog post based on your refi experience…Something to think about.

    Thanks so much,

  78. tina Says: August 12th, 2010 at 12:45 am

    If the interest rates drop after I lock them with my lender for the Harp program,will the lender apply the lower interest rate if the closing is still not done.
    what is the average rate offered for 30 year at 125%.
    Thank you.

  79. Tim Manni Says: August 12th, 2010 at 8:21 am


    In a normal scenario (a purchase), you could purchase a float down, in which of the rate does drop lower, your lender will re-lock your rate lower — I’m just not sure if that applies to HARP. I would talk to your lender/servicer about that. Rates are so low right now I wouldn’t wait around around for them to drop even lower — act now! If you need to shop for rates to get a sense of what they are, visit, click here.

    To be honest, I haven’t heard of anyone getting a refi at 125% LTV. One of our readers said he had to pay down his loan to 115% LTV before his lender/servicer would refi. If get a refi at 125% LTV, please let us know all about it!

    Thanks for commenting,

  80. Oleg Says: August 13th, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I just inquired with BOA about HARP and they said they can do it ONLY if mortgage owed is not higher than 105% of my property value. When I asked about new 125%, they said it can not be applied to me because I have PMI. After checking they said that Fannie Mae (my lender) appraised the property at $232000 and I owe $252000 so I have to come up with additional $9000 in order to get refinance under HARP or pay for the new appraisal and hope that it will appraise at approximately $240000. If not I will lose appraisal fee. The rate given was 5.375% (currently I have 6%). It is funny because I know that many lenders give mortgages without points starting from 4.75% (but I have to have 20% down).

  81. Cleo Says: August 18th, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    I just asked BofA (my loan’s servicer) about HARP and they said that the appraisal on file is $100K HIGHER than what I think it should be. So, my LTV is around 85%. The rep said there was no appraisal fee (so I assume no appraisal), but I’m leery of plunking down an $450 app fee only to be appraised to a LTV greater than 105% and be told to get lost. Anyone know where BofA got the appraisal on the loan file? And if they really are going to use this number without appraising the house?

  82. Tim Manni Says: August 19th, 2010 at 10:11 am


    Do you think home values have fallen substantially in your neighborhood, that’s why is $100K higher than what you think it should be? BofA could have arrived at that value a number of ways: 1) they could have found it through a Automated Valuation Model (AVM) — basically that’s the electronic version of an appraisal. 2) They could have looked at your original loan docs. If your LTV is 80% you don’t need HARP. But you seem quite surprised that you actually have equity, which lends me to think that the servicers will send out an appraiser to your home. If the servicer refis you with your current LTV they’re stuck with it, so that’s why I tend to think they’ll send someone out to your home.


  83. Tim Manni Says: August 19th, 2010 at 10:20 am


    Here is some more info from

    If a new appraisal is obtained for the Refi Plus transaction, is the lender responsible for the representations and warranties of the existing appraisal in the file?

    The lender is responsible for the standard representations and warranties related to the value, marketability, and condition of the property as reflected in the property valuation used to support the refinance transaction. For Refi Plus, this could be the original appraisal used to support the existing mortgage loan, or a new property valuation, whichever is used to support the refinance transaction. If a new property valuation is obtained, the lender is relieved of the standard representations and warranties related to any prior appraisal obtained for the mortgage loan being refinanced.

    For Refi Plus, if the lender is relying on the original appraisal to support the value of the refinance transaction, it must represent and warrant that the current value is not less than the value reflected in the appraisal obtained for the existing mortgage loan. How can a lender assess the current property value to determine whether the existing appraised value meets this standard?

    To determine whether it can represent and warrant that the current value is not less than the value obtained in connection with the existing mortgage loan, the lender should assess current market values based on whatever means it determines to be acceptable. If the lender is confident that the new value is not less than the original value, the lender can provide the representation and warranty and originate the new mortgage based on the original value without a new property valuation.

  84. Brooke Says: August 26th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Sad to say but it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in this mess. We bought our home in 2006 for $376,000, we could only put down 5% but we decided to go with a traditional 30yr fixed instead of the sub-prime options. As of today our house is worth approx. $303,000. So this morning I called Bofa thinking ‘Hey, maybe I’ll try to refinance under the HARP program and see if I can get my payments lowered’. BofA told me I didn’t qualify because 1. I was late for my June payment (the only time in 5 years) 2. I had PMI, and 3. I had a LTV of 116% and they would only finance up to 105%. I asked about the 125% and he said I would need to get the PMI removed and then get my LTV to 105%. I asked him why would I have to pay my loan down to $300,000 to get my PMI removed first when a 105% LTV would be $320,000 from the $352,000 I owe now?? I told him that it doesn’t make any sense and why bother? He just said “yep, why bother” and that was the end of that. Am I the only one that doesn’t see the logic in this? I’m so mad I could spit nails! I guess there’s no help for people in this type of circumstance. If I could get the PMI removed it would save me $300.00 a month and then I wouldn’t need to refinance for a lower monthly payment. That’s why these programs aren’t working because most people are in this same situation of being able to pay the mortgage, have good credit and a stable income but are horribly upside down in their homes. The frustrating thing is I don’t know who to talk to or who can help, no one seems to listen or have any answers.

  85. John Wheeler Says: October 13th, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Yeah, to add to the mix, I paid my PMI down to the tune of about $3K when I financed my first loan. B of A said that they can’t do HARP on a loan with PMI, and while there’s a loophole for lender-paid PMI, I don’t qualify because I paid the PMI down myself. It’s really gross what these banks are doing robbing people twice. Yay for capitalism.

  86. Cindy Says: October 15th, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Does anyone have any idea if a REFINANCE through the HARP program negatively impacts your credit score? We are in the process of refinancing our home thorough a MHA loan at Bank of America. No appraisal, minimal closing cost (minimizing cost by using same title company as when we purchased, etc.), cheaper rate. We are not upside down on the house, but our home has lost about 20% in value (i.e. our down payment). Therefore, the only equity we have is what we’ve paid in principle the last 3 years. I’m not interested in a traditional refi, b/c we don’t plan on being in the home but for a couple of years, plus we’d likely be looking at PMI due to the lower value. We would save approximately $400/mth by going through with the re-fi (going from a 5.875% rate to 4.375%). Fortunately, we aren’t in danger of losing the home, and can still make the payments now. I just checked in the option in effort to save some cash. A friend does paralegal work, specializing in real estate. She told me she though this would negatively impact our credit score. I can see how a LOAN MODIFICATION would, but any idea if/how a HARP REFINANCE would impact our credit score?

  87. Tim Manni Says: October 18th, 2010 at 1:18 pm


    Not that I’ve heard. In the FAQs of, they mention HAMP adversely affecting credit scores, but they don’t mention the same for HARP (

    However, having not gone through a HARP refinance, I can’t speak on a personal basis. What’s important to remember is, the credit complications with HAMP involve the servicer reporting the borrower not as current when they file for the modification trial. If you’re current, it shouldn’t be a problem, but having not gone through a HARP refi myself, I can’t be 100%.


  88. Tim Manni Says: October 19th, 2010 at 8:58 am


    We’ve heard so many comments about the problems PMI has caused in the refi process. What’s the point of these programs if they’re so hard to get into in the first place? What’s the message we’re sending to borrowers: “Congratulations on paying down your PMI yourself; your prize is you don’t qualify for HARP.”

    It’s almost as if borrowers are getting punished for doing the right thing.

    Thanks for your comment,

  89. Karen Says: October 24th, 2010 at 1:08 pm


    From what I can tell, we are great candidates for a HARP refinance, but our loan is not owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mac. However, I read this on the Freddie site:

    “If neither Freddie Mac nor Fannie Mae owns your loan, ask your lender if they participate in the federal Making Home Affordable program. If so, they can help you determine your eligibility.

    If you are eligible for the Making Home Affordable program, there are several options available to you:

    A Home Affordable Refinance to better position you for long-term homeownership success if you have been making timely mortgage payments but have been unable to refinance due to declining property values.”

    Our loan is with Chase. Has anyone had success with refinancing with Chase, even without the Freddie/Fannie owned requirement?


  90. Tim Manni Says: October 25th, 2010 at 8:46 am


    According to (, You are eligible for HARP if:

    The loan on your property is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (See:

    Several lenders are incorporating their own versions of HARP refinances. I would call Chase, explain your situation and your goals to see if they have a program that’s right for you,

    Thanks, keep us posted,

  91. Karen Says: October 25th, 2010 at 11:26 am


    Thank you for your help! I hope that Chase is as helpful as you have been.


  92. Tim Manni Says: October 25th, 2010 at 3:28 pm


    No problem, I’m glad I could be of some assistance. Keep me posted, I want to hear how you make out.


  93. Ellen Says: October 27th, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Just called Wells Fargo today due to change of job and financial hardship. Asked if I qualified for a refinancing and apparently I don’t but the gentleman couldn’t tell me why. I told him…I live in Arizona? I’m not at 80% to loan value? I’m probably at $130,000 on a 3 bed, 2 bath house in downtown phoenix, nice family neighborhood…maybe $140,000 if I’m lucky but I doubt it. Still have a good credit score…haven’t been late on a payment and dont wany to be but it’s a whopper and if I could refinance it would keep me from going under. Have really wanted to speak to someone in person but when I have gone to two different branches of Wells Fargo in phoenix their mortgage person is only there 2 days a week? hmmmmmm, how is it with everything happening they can only have a mortgage person there 2 days a week? Am I missing something? I finally called the 800# and spoke to someone who said to keep calling back to see if things change…He said it’s up to the investor who for me is Fannie Mae? What does that mean? What could possibly change? Not giving up though…I’m hanging on!!! I love my house!!!

  94. Tim Manni Says: October 28th, 2010 at 12:25 pm


    What I find ridiculous is that they aren’t telling you why you don’t qualify. You’re underwater, right? If so that’s probably why. And it it’s a second property (not your primary residence or a vacation or investment prop) they probably won’t refi that either. You should call those branches and find out which day that mortgage pro will be there so you can get some definite answers.

    Keep me posted,

  95. Steve Says: November 4th, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Hello Tim,

    I am currently undergoing refinancing through HARP with BofA who is my current servicer. My friend who works for BofA looked into my original loan document (this was done by other servicer, not BofA in 2008) and told me that I over stated my income at that time by about 20%. This is not what I had said to my agent or loan agent at the time. Well, there isn’t much you can do to my agents right now. In case I am asked about this discrepancy, he told me to just state my income decreased. Is it possible that BofA make this a problem later? Should I withdraw the application immediately? I purchased in May 2008 and have never been late on my payments. Thanks.

  96. Tim Manni Says: November 5th, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Hey Steve,

    The first question I have to ask is, “Did you provide the proper income documentation with your original loan back in 2008?” If you did, then your income is what it is, and BofA could be making a mistake. If you didn’t, then you may have an issue. BofA will have access to your tax returns (probably last two years) so they should be able to see what your income was.

    This really all comes down to whether or not you provided income documentation back in 2008?

    Hope to hear from you soon, thanks for writing in,

  97. Steve Says: November 5th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Thanks Tim. I did not provide income documentation. What can BofA do to me once they discover this? I already signed IRS form already. Should I cancel the application asap?

    Why would they go after me if I have never been late on my payments for the last 2 years and 6 months? What do get they get out of it? Thanks for your advice.

  98. Tim Manni Says: November 5th, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Hey Steve,

    While I can’t advise your decision one way or another, I can tell you that BofA is going to accept or reject your application based on your information and documentation today. I believe HARP apps require two years worth of tax returns, so BofA will have access to your financial statements. If they don’t like what they see, they’ll likely reject your app, it’s probably as simple as that. If you fear some type of legal ramification, I would consult a lawyer. But as I said, present all the required documentation they ask for and go from there.

    Keep me posted, I’d love to her how you made out, thanks,

  99. Liz Says: November 7th, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    I’m in the 11th hour of a HARP refinance with Chase for my Fannie Mae loan. Loan was approved with a LTV 110% at 5.25%. Closing date came and went on 10/28 without a word from Chase, even though I asked my loan officer for an update a week prior to that date. On 11/1, I get word that the loan was approved and on 11/4 was signing escrow docs. However, I noticed that Chase tacked an additional $980 onto my origination fees – I was charged 0.25% for a lock-in extension. It just seems too convenient that Chase would miss my closing date by just a few days to slap me with another grand. Total cash I have to come to up with at closing (aside from cash for impounding) is $1995 which includes the bank origination fee and the lock-in extension fee. Needless to say, I didn’t pay at closing and decide to wait out the 3-day cancellation period to get answers. Tomorrow is the 3rd day and I’m thinking of pulling the plug and seeking a new lender as this seems a little shady. Two questions: 1. Is this re-lock fee I was charged a normal thing and 2. For anyone who has successfully refinanced through HARP, were your origination fees rolled into your loan and financed as I’ve heard has been done, or did you have to come up with the cash at closing? I feel as if I’m getting screwed over by Chase.

  100. Tim Manni Says: November 8th, 2010 at 2:18 pm


    I would really complain about that $980 fee if Chase is the one who is at fault for missing the closing! That fee isn’t a normal thing if the lender is at fault for missing the deadline. Second, we haven’t any stories of a successful HARP refinance so I wouldn’t be able to say.

    You really should look into that re-locking fee.

    Keep us posted,

  101. Tony Says: November 9th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Can’t believe all the post–I thought I was the only one in this boat. Seems this entire MHA/HARP deal is a bunch of hot air. I’ve been trying to refinance my BoA loan since January 2009 when my income was reduced, then I lost my job in June 2009, got a new job in April 2010 but making much less than what I was making prior January 2009. BofA continues to refuse to offer any help (not even so much as a forbearance), yet during the entire process I haven’t missed any payment–contrary to all the “off-the-record” advice of missing a couple of payments to get their attention. All I hear is you are not behind (even when I show them proof I am dipping into my retirement to keep my payments current), “no job, sorry we can’t help…call us back we your situation changes,” “BoA policy to sell all loans under $417 to FannieMae/FreddieMac so your loan should be with FM/FM but it isn’t”…I so tired of the different excuses I get from BoA it makes me want to scream.

  102. Willow Says: November 9th, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Help me to understand why Chase, my existing mortgage lender, fed exed me an offer to refinance with a HARP 15 yr. fixed 4.125% loan with NO CLOSING COSTS. We are not the people in the situation HARP was designed to address. Our outstanding loan balance is less than 25% of the value of the home which has continued to slowly appreciate. We should have no problem refinancing and had lots of offers when we tested the waters a few months ago.

    But this is an offer we cannot refuse — reducing our interest rate a full percentage point with absolutely no fees / even no application fees. It saddens me that Chase is turning their back on people in need and catering to families like us who are not suffering from this housing crises.

    Well, this has just happened and we have yet to close but anticipate no problems. Only possible glitch is a line of credit on our home we never used which got sold off to another bank and which we need to close. They refuse to accept an agreement to subordinate (the value of the home is at least double both together).

    Still, I think it’s profoundly unfair of Chase to promote refinancing to the very people who least need HARP assistance when so many others are hurting.

  103. Tim Manni Says: November 10th, 2010 at 9:29 am


    How can you believe these employees when you get a different answer every time you call? So they’re saying your loan isn’t with FM or FM. Here’s how you can find out for sure — contact them directly:

    It’s unbelievable that we still haven’t found a way to help current borrowers refinance. We’ve been trying to clean up the mess all these foreclosures have caused over the years, and now we servicers encouraging borrowers to grow delinquent; that’s not right.

    Stay diligent and keep us posted. Good luck and thanks for commenting,

  104. Tim Manni Says: November 10th, 2010 at 9:40 am


    Well, you’re the first comment we’ve gotten about a potentially-successful HARP refinance. From what you say yourself, you’re not even the type of borrower that the program is designed for. While I don’t know the specifics, it sounds like you’re getting a good offer. That 4.125% rate isn’t the lowest we’ve seen for a 15-yr term, so they probably offered you a little higher rate in exchange for no closing costs.

    PLEASE keep us posted, I really want to know how this all turns out. Thanks for your comment,

  105. Rich Says: December 3rd, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Have you gotten any information back about the denials based on pre-existing PMI or LPMI? I called Wells Fargo last week and was told they could not help me under this program because my original loan has LPMI. Wells is my current servicer and I meet all other requirements. I don’t qualify for an standard refi because of LTV with appraisal. My house is appraising around 100% LTV, but above the standard 95% needed for traditional refi.

  106. Tim Manni Says: December 3rd, 2010 at 3:35 pm


    Unfortunately I don’t. all my research had led me to dead ends. Some of the other readers I spoke with have had similar problems, and is the case with you, inquiring to their lenders seem to only produce dead ends. I’m real sorry, but I promise I will keep my ear to the ground.

    Keep me posted, and thanks for checking in,

  107. Willow Says: December 11th, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Well, just to report that our refinance flew through successfully. The notary said she has been doing loads of these for Chase’s “good customers” in the past month. She says they want to tie these homeowners down before they decide to refinance with other lenders. Not the intention of HARP I suspect.

  108. Tim Manni Says: December 13th, 2010 at 1:40 pm


    That’s so interesting. Thanks for following up with me. Looking over your previous comment, it seems Chase is doing “HARP” refis, or at least calling them that, for borrowers who HARP wasn’t designed for you.

    You seem to be a prime borrower — nice equity position — and having them offer and complete a refi with you serves to better their own balance sheet while filling some HARP quotas at the same time. At least that what it seems like to me.

    Well, congrats on the refi, any other details you could offer me I’d love to hear about them.


  109. Simon Says: December 16th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I’m having problems with eligibility for HARP and wondered if others have come across the same issue. Chase own my 30 year @ 6.25% mortgage, I have good credit ~800, never missed payment. The condo I have mortgaged is about $30K under water. Chase are saying because they own/provide the PMI on my mortgage they are unable to help me with HARP. This seems just an excuse for them to opt out of the HARP program. Are there really many customers who have a mortgage with Chase with PMI where Chase does not also “own” the PMI?


  110. Tim Manni Says: December 17th, 2010 at 3:11 pm


    We’ve been hearing a lot of stories from readers about MI tripping up HARP qualifications. Without knowing your complete situation, it’s hard to say why you’re having trouble getting qualified. I speculate that this is the situation: It sounds like you have lender paid mortgage insurance (LPMI). I bet neither Chase nor a private mortgage insurer is willing to write you a new mortgage insurance policy b/c you’re underwater and it’s a condo.


  111. Andy Says: December 17th, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    My bank Wells Fargo is trying to get me to refinance. What bugs me is their teaser letter states at little or no cost. This led me to be lieve there was no closing costs. WRONG! After they quoted me 5.75% and I questioned why so high I was advised that the rate included PMI which I currently have but also closing costs. My current rate is 6.25%. How can they say little or no costs? People need to really scrutinize these offers because Banks doing nothing for free!!! Their making out if I refinance and my savings works out to a small amount. Not sure I will go through with it. I might see if any other banks are interested.

  112. Tim Manni Says: December 17th, 2010 at 5:52 pm


    Don’t be fooled, each refinance costs something. The best thing I can tell you to do is to check out our Tri-Refi calculator:

    This calculator lets you compare the cost and overall savings of a traditional refinance, a “low-cash-out” refinance and a “no-cost” refinance. These articles help explain the ins and outs of each financing strategy are as well:




  113. Willow Says: December 18th, 2010 at 12:52 am


    I’m not sure what kind of details would be helpful. There really were NO closing costs and no application fee. I did have to close out our line of credit but we had no intention of using it. I do hate that we helped Chase reach its quota when there are so many people who really do need the help. Wonder if our refinance under HARP is in any way a misuse of the program. If so, I wouldn’t mind sharing our experience.

  114. Simon Says: December 20th, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Tim – you are correct. As far as I can tell Chase Mortgage + Chase LPMI + Underwater + Condo = No possibility of HARP. Frustrating but that’s how it is. Is it because the property is underwater tha they are unwilling to write a new insurance policy?

  115. Tim Manni Says: December 21st, 2010 at 9:58 am


    As far as I can reckon, yes. The combination of underwater and condo doesn’t present an attractive opportunity for a PMI company.

    Sorry to hear about your struggles, really I am. If you want, you could document your story in a guest blog post here on the blog…just let know if you’re interested or if I can help you out.

    Thanks for reading and commenting on our blog,

  116. ken Says: December 22nd, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    I would like to know what the payments to the banks are for providing a HARP refi. I have heard that they do receive a goverment payment of some sort at a certain time interval. Can you please clarify.


  117. Tim Manni Says: December 28th, 2010 at 11:25 am


    To my knowledge, lenders/servicers don’t get any cash for doing HARP refis. There is money in place for lenders/servicers who preform HAMP modifications.

    Thanks for commenting,

  118. Steve Says: December 31st, 2010 at 12:49 am

    My current servicer, BofA, approved by MHA HARP today at 4.5% for 30 years. Old rate at 5.8% for 30 years. It was funded today. Loan/escrow closed!!!

    As a background I have been the owner of a single family residence in Los Angeles county since May 2008. Fannie Mae is the investor. Never missed payments or property tax. As far as I know, no approval was required since Fannie Mae had their own way of calculating the value of the home per my loan offier. I owed approx 320,000. The value of home $365,000. Signed application in end of October. Paid $450 app fee. If denied, I was going to get my money back. If approved, the app fee will be credited toward the closing cost. Took them only two months. Closing cost came approx. $2,500 and this was added to the loan. So all I paid was $450.

    What I did differently from other people, I guess, is that I pushed everyone involved in the process that includes loan officer, processor, closing agent and closing specialist. I literally called them twice a week and stressed how important this was and I wouldn’t be able to make any payment if this doesn’t go through. May be I got lucky with good people, but the loan offier I was dealing with specalizes in MHA HARP and was very knowledgeable in this program. He pretty had answers to all my concerns. As far as I know, your debt to income ratio doesn’t matter. Per the loan officer, as long as you work, you should qualify. It’s all about if you are currently working or not.

    Don’t lose hope. It is possible. This is the best New Year’s present I’ve ever had in my life.

    Good luck!

  119. Tim Manni Says: January 4th, 2011 at 2:38 pm


    Thanks so much for sharing your story with our readers! We hear a lot of negative comments about BofA, so it’s finally nice to get a more balanced report. Please keep us posted, and thanks again for commenting!


  120. Franklin Says: January 6th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I wonder who can make the banks really participate in the HARP. My mortgage is owned by Fredie Mac, I meet all of the criteria however when it comes to applying for the HARP the bank, Chase, says that my loan was not originated at Chase but at Centex and that the PMI was paid by the lender. Why is that a reason not to get me qualified? I just believe the bank does not want to refinance because it wants to keep on getting my money at the current interest. So the Government has no authority here? Can Chase do whatever it wants? and pirces keep going down, not underwater but planetcenter. This is not fair, no no no.
    Bye Tim

  121. Tim Manni Says: January 6th, 2011 at 2:17 pm


    I’ve heard a lot of stories like yours. You want to refi under HARP but you get tripped up when your servicers tells you that you have MI, correct? Are you underwater? Mortgage insurers don’t really want to write MI policies for underwater borrowers.

    Perhaps you should try and pursue a refi outside of the HARP program. I’m sorry I don’t have much more to tell you. Please let me know if you have anymore questions.


  122. Tami Says: January 8th, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Just to let you know, Tim, that my story is exactly the same as Willow’s with tons of equity in the home, however I am self employed and not earning a large income these days. My notary from Chase will be coming to my house this week to sign papers. Reducing 20 yr fixed (14 yrs left) at 5.625 to 15 yr 4.25. If I make payments at the same amount as I am currently, I will have loan now paid off in about 11 years.
    What about Chase worrying about lost paperwork? My loan was originally a WAMU loan so you wonder if they’re trying to get their paperwork in order. Just a thought.

  123. Tim Manni Says: January 10th, 2011 at 1:05 pm


    Sounds like a smart move to me: you’ll be paying your original monthly amount (even though your refi will reduce your monthly payment) in order to pay down your mortgage in less time. Good luck.

    Not sure I understand your question…You’re about to execute a HARP refi, but you’re still worried about the possibility of lost paperwork? Perhaps you can clarify for me.

    Thanks for commenting,

  124. Viktor Says: January 20th, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Well.. I have a question, not a feedback so here it is:

    I live in a condo in Maryland. The condo’s market value approximately at 168K.

    Got 2 mortgages. First mortgage:

    5-yr ARM (5.125%) originated in 2005 for 200K (based on 1-yr LIBOR 2.25 margin 2% yearly cap).
    This mortgage adjusted down in June 2010 from 5.125% to 3.125%
    Owe 178K.

    2. Second mortgage – owe $7800. > no problem subordinating

    I know that I qualify for HARP (Fannie Mae is the investor on 1st mortgage).

    Contacted my mortgage holder refinance loan officer. He said they will be able to approve to loan 176K (105% LTV) quoted 5.3% (no points) 30-yr fixed with $3000 maximum out of pocket at closing.

    It’s possible my property value will decrease somewhat more in 2011. And I know HARP is going to expire in 2011.

    Does it make sense for me to refinance? Am I not going to benefit from the refinance? (going from 3.125% to 5.3%).

  125. Tim Manni Says: January 28th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Hey Viktor,

    Sorry it has taken me so long to respond.

    It’s a tough question to answer directly. The only benefit is that you would be conducting what would be considered a “preemptive” refinance, since it would serve to prevent future trouble. Your costs will probably not change too much (you provided no info on the small second mortgage so it’s a little hard to judge) from what you were paying before the rate adjusted downward… but a refinance would
    provide protection against a future rising interest rate environment.

    The complication, of course, is the length of time you will stay in the home. Common ARM caps would limit any change in the interest rate next year to 2%, so at worst you would again face 5.125%… but in the out years it would be best to plan for a rate rather above that, perhaps 6.125% on average or so.

    The benefit of the refinance isn’t monetary, but rather comes in certainty about future costs. With a longer time horizon (perhaps 4+ years) you will probably be happier with a 30-year FRM at what would still be a great interest rate (again, not much worse than where you began with your 5/1 ARM) and no risk of higher costs making your mortgage unaffordable. With a shorter horizon, it is a calculated gamble that your costs will remain on the favorable side, since it’s a 3.125% -> 5.125% -> ?% arrangement.

    Hope that helps you out,

  126. marge Says: February 13th, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Our daughter and husband bought a house for $600,000 in 2007. 1st mortgage at 6%, 2nd mortgage of $140,000 at 8.8% which they did not realize will come due in September. About $60,000 equity. Applied for a HARP through Wells Fargo-no late payments, credit of 710. Appraisal came back shockingly low at $395,000! 137% ltv.
    Can they dispute the low appraisal, which is exactly what the current taxes are based on. They understand that they must refinance 1st in order for 2nd to be refinanced. How should they proceed. Thanks, Marge

  127. marge currie Says: February 14th, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Our daughter and husband bought a house for $600,000 in 2007. 1st mortgage at 6%, 2nd mortgage of $140,000 at 8.8% which they did not realize will come due in September. About $60,000 equity. Applied for a HARP through Wells Fargo-no late payments, credit of 710. Appraisal came back shockingly low at $395,000! 137% ltv.
    Can they dispute the low appraisal, which is exactly what the current taxes are based on. They understand that they must refinance 1st in order for 2nd to be refinanced. I understand that 2nd modification is only under HAMP. I don’t know why they are being told to refinance under HARP. How should they proceed. Thanks, Marge

  128. Tim Manni Says: February 14th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Hey Marge,

    Thanks for commenting. HARP is the federal refinance program while HAMP is the modification effort. Perhaps what your daughter should do is to have her property taxes reevaluated. With the substantial decline in home values, property taxes may not have adjusted to the new lower values of the homes.

    Unfortunately for the HARP program, it’s instructed to only refi a loan up to 125% LTV. In my experience from what others have told me, many lenders aren’t even going that high, many will only do up to 105%.

    As for HAMP, first lien loans are eligible for the modification. There is also the Second Lien Modification Program (2MP): “The Second Lien Modification Program (2MP) is designed to work in tandem with the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Together, HAMP and 2MP create a comprehensive solution to help homeowners achieve greater affordability by lowering payments on both the 1st and 2nd liens.”

    Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with, thanks for commenting,

  129. Sowport Says: February 14th, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Tim,

    As an update, Bank of America still only offers 105%.

    Like most people in Southern California who purchased six or seven years ago, I had to break up my loan into a HELOC to avoid having a jumbo 1st mortgage. I can HARP refinance my 1st since it is within the 105% but can do nothing about the HELOC.

    I (and likely hundreds of thousands of others) would have refinanced in November at a great rate but for two concerns:

    1. 105% doesn’t cover the second.
    2. Fear about trashing an excellent credit rating.

    Solve these two problems and hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people will take advantage of the program (if it isn’t already too late given the rising intrest rates)

    While I have been assured that unlike a HASP, a HARP is treated as a refinance and not a modification by credit agencies; there are so many horror stories out there that most people (including me) are still scared to death of “Making Homes Affordable”.

    What information do you have on the affect of a HASP, as compared to a standard refinance, on credit scores?



  130. Sowport Says: February 14th, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Sorry Tim, I ment what affect does a HARP have, compared to a standard refinance, on credit scores?

  131. Tim Manni Says: February 15th, 2011 at 11:53 am


    How are you, thanks for commenting. As for fear number 1: You’re right, HARP is only meant for the primary loan (the loan in the first position). And for that HARP refi to go through, the lender of your second mortgage must agree to remain in the junior lien position.

    As far as fear number 2 goes: In my experience, as far as I’m aware, HARP shouldn’t have a negative impact on your credit score. In order to qualify for a HARP refi you must be current on your mortgage. I have heard credit score horror stories like you mentioned, but that was some time ago and they related to HAMP modifications, not HARP refinances. Remember, you can be delinquent and still qualify for a HAMP mod. If you’re delinquent, your credit is already affected. Also, a while back, the problem was that lenders were incorrectly reporting the status of loans going through the mod process as delinquent even when they were not. That’s also where the credit issues came from. To my knowledge that issue has abated (at least somewhat).

    Although HAMP and HARP are all under Making Home Affordable, they are different programs with a different set of borrowers who can qualify and who the program is catered for.

    So, to my knowledge, I don’t believe HARP is negatively affecting credit scores.

    Thanks for your comment, I hope this information helps.


    Refinancing is generally looked at as a positive move by creditors, you’re recasting your debts in a positive manner.

  132. Jason Says: March 23rd, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Tim,
    FIrst Great site thanks! PNC has denied my HARP loan. Mortgafe is owned by Freddie, they value home at 339,000 I owe 325,000 so not underwater but only because of the 20% I put down,and serviced by PNC. My credit 790 all other criteria met from Freddie site, no second,but the story I get from loan officer (who seems perplexed)is that the loan was originated by National City not PNC, therefore they will not honor the no reverification of income (self-employed). PNC bought National City! seems like they just don’t have any interest in making the loan. It would save me nearly $500 dollars a month. Have you come across way to hold them acountable to make the loan? Thank you

  133. Tim Manni Says: March 24th, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Hey Jason,

    So glad you’re enjoying the blog! Hmmm…Well it seems like you’re in good standing, but I can certainly understand why you would want to take advantage of current mortgage rates, especially when you could lower your monthly payment by $500. Maybe, as you said, they have no interest in refinancing you since you seem to be in good standing.

    I haven’t heard of a way you can force your lender to refinance your loan, it’s voluntary on their part.

    Have you tried talking to other lenders, shopping around?

    Hope to hear from you soon,

  134. Jen Says: May 20th, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Is the HARP program go with a 30year fixed interest rate or an adjustable?

  135. Tim Manni Says: May 20th, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Hey Jen,

    You can qualify for HARP if the refinance is for your primary residence, your mortgage is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you’re not more than 25% underwater, you’re current on your payments, and you show the ability to be able to repay your loan.

    Here’s the link:

    Thanks for commenting,


  136. Lee Says: June 12th, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I qualify for Fannie HARP refi. Existing servicer refuses to comply with HARP stated-income guidelines. I believe other lenders (other than my current servicer) can do the Fannie HARP refi, but I am being told all lenders are refusing to do HARP stated-income. Is this true?

  137. Tim Manni Says: June 13th, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Hey Lee,

    Which stated income guidelines are you referring to? Are you self-employed?

    You aren’t referring to the loan-to-value ratios are you? I know most servicers aren’t refinancing loans that are more than 105% underwater, even though says you can qualify up to 125% LTV.

    Thanks for commenting,

  138. Chris T Says: August 9th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Hi Mindy L
    I just did the same thing. Received HARP docs in the mail from my current mortgage company, CHASE, and contacted them during the last week in July. I close this Friday, less than 30 days from start to finish, and am cutting 3% off my interest rate. :) Totally painless process.:) The amount I am saving on interest will pay for the closing costs in 8 months. :)

  139. Brian Says: August 15th, 2011 at 1:25 am

    When I tried to do this last year, Bank of America originally told me my loan was not conforming. I asked why, it took 5 calls to get that answer. It had to do with my PMI. Of the 5 – 6 major PMI companies only 1 supports the 125% HARP. All the others only support the 105%. So if the PMI for your loan is covered by the wrong PMI company BoA cannot refinance the loan because it will not get MI to cover it.

    So the government created a program but forgot to make sure the new loans could be underwritten by PMI. Thx

  140. Jay Says: August 22nd, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I tried to refi earlier and even though I meet all program guidelines no luck. My original loan was a stated income ( never missed payment or even late, credit score of 802) but PNC says because it was originaly a stated product they will not refi. I can’t use other companies only PNC as they are the current servicer. I’m self employed, always have been always well be, it such a easy fix to change your pre deduction income as your qualifing income. Starting to wonder if it’s even worth paying anymore, you keep your credit score and payment history in order to assure your buying power as a consumer…Self Employed = No Buying Power no matter what your history.

  141. danielle Says: August 22nd, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    We do not qualify for this because our loan is not owned by Fannie or Freddie. Total BS!! So we loose out because we didnt get a government loan.

  142. Liz Says: August 31st, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Credit score high 700s…never missed a payment…mortgage is 1/3 of the going value….no 2nd….Freddie Mac owned….income dropped dramatically for the past 3 years, so I applied for HARP through Wells Fargo.
    After a few phone calls with a rep to clarify things, I let them know to proceed. They took 3 1/2 days to e-mail me (late on a Friday) the required documents to fill out and whatever else they needed proof of. I had them ready by Tuesday and was told I didn’t let them know on time that I wanted to go ahead with the application. I guess they will find an excuse not to help in any way.

  143. Paul Says: September 14th, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    To All,

    Maybe a ray of hope. I also tried the HARP 125 with Regions Bank and my Loan Servicer; Aurora Bank. Was told by both I seemed to qualify and they found no initial issues. I paid for the appraisel for each (3 weeks apart) then was told Regions only did 95% LTV (mine was 99%) and Regions all of a sudden informed me they only did 90%. Yes I was hot!!!

    Well about a week an a half ago I was doing a Google search and found Goldstar Mortgage Financial. They were rated in the 300’s in Foutune 500 so I emailed them for info. To make along story short, I quallified in every way and just had to hope my home appraised between 121-125k. It came in yesterday at 125K. They do a auto underwriter to see if there are any issues. All the closing costs are included except for the $365 appraisel fee and the $100 check I wrote to have my second mortgaged subordinated. I “should” close the end of the month at 4.875% for 30 years. It is worth your call. I have been dealing with Brandon Brotsky. Their number is easy enough to find on Google. The office I am dealing with is in Ft Lauderdale FL

    Good luck to you all

  144. DAve Says: September 15th, 2011 at 12:35 am

    HI Tim
    Bought home in 2005 for 640k. put down 240k. had a ARM at 5.875. refi’d in 2007 to lock in rate at 5.625. two years later, ref’d again at 4.625. home value now is at 400k, what I owe. Income and job is making it difficult to make my 2800 monthly payment. I live in home,800 Fico and qualify for HARP. I contacted Wells and they told me I can get into a 5/1 Arm at 2.625. Woo Hoo!! savings of 510 month, with 1 point and some closing cost to bring it to 6000k closing. Today, they said “oops”, HARP wont let you go from fixed to ARM. They did offer a 4.125 at 1 point, a savings of 179.00 month. wondering if this is worthwhile, spending about 4k to save 179 month? ITs not much help, really 179.00? Can I somehow negotiate with Wells for a Lower rate somehow? I think a 5/1 rate would work for the next 5 years..I dont see things changing. IN 5 years, I could possibly sell or refi again at, what I think, the same area of rates. Thought? Thank You!

  145. Tim Manni Says: September 15th, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Hey Dave,
    Thanks for commenting and sharing your story. Well, you have a very interesting but commin debacle. We’ve been asked thousands of times: “Is it better to pay closing costs out of pocket, finance them into the loan amount, or trade them for a higher interest rate?” There’s no one simple answer, since each choice has its own benefits and total costs over time. One may be more or less expensive depending upon how long you’ll hold onto the mortgage.

    However, we have just the tool for you. It’s a refi calculator that developed to help refinancers decide how to best finance their refi. Here’s the link:

    Crunch some numbers. The calc will show your payments over time and it will show hiw long it will take for that $179 savings to recoup the $4,000 cost of a refi. ALSO: Shop around! Maybe you can find a better deal–far less closing costs and maybe a better rate.

    Good luck, keep me posted!

  146. Tim Manni Says: September 15th, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for sharing that info Paul!

  147. DAve Says: September 16th, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Wells Fargo came back with this long as my house has 20% equity
    30 yr, no points 4.25%
    5/1, no points 2.625%
    now to decide if doing the 5/1 is a good move. save 500 a month for 5 years seems a good move? i dont see interest rates going nuts in 5 years..but actually see it about the same. housing crunch is still years away…
    your thoughts? Thanks

  148. Tim Manni Says: September 16th, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Hey Dave,

    That will be something you’ll have to decide for yourself. It’s all about your timeline: If you’re planning on being in your home for quite some time, you can’t beat the stability of the 30-yr fixed-rate loan. Then again, that 2.6 rate is extremely low!
    Yet, if you’re going to take the ARM, you need to save all that extra monthly money you’re saving with that lower interest rate and bank it to prepare for future rate increases.
    What will happen when your lifestyle spending adjusts to making that much, much lower monthly payment and then all of the sudden your interest could jump up a couple percent? Again, if you choose the ARM, make sure you know what the floors and ceilings are–how low is your ARM allowed to fall, how high can it rise in just one year, how high can it rise over the entire life of the loan.
    Certainly, make the decision that’s best suited for you, but understand all the risks involved.
    Good luck, and continue to keep me posted.

  149. Stacey Says: September 29th, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Hello, I have read every entry on this blog up to date. As a mortgage loan officer for the last 26 years for a small, independent mortgage company (we are called a “correspondent lender”) I can offer a few comments. I can say that no lender truly and intentionally does things to hurt a borrower. They truly gain nothing from it. What I am getting from so many of these comments and stories is that the bank employees are not properly trained on these new programs and the rules and regulations are far more complicated than any consumer could ever understand. I have always felt that the big lenders should thoroughly train specialists for this program and allow only these people to deal with the customers. So many of these last minute problems are a result of their lack of
    knowledge. As a loan goes through the various steps of time consuming
    processing, the loan is finally analyzed by an underwriter who will catch anything that has been overlooked in the guideline. Therefore, it seems as if the
    lender has applied bate and switch techniques, when really it has only been
    going through various check points. I read in a previous entry where a
    mortgage banker commented on the risk that a lender takes when the
    processing of the loan is not perfect and does not follow each and every guideline to the letter, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can refuse to honor the
    loan (in what we call a”buy back”). I do agree with some of the comments
    stating “what is the use of the program when no one can qualify for it?”
    Personally, I think it is Washington DC trying to make us think that they are
    trying to help us and then putting the blame on the big bad bank when the
    program cannot work the way the program was designed. I don’t think the
    HARP program was ever designed to be a financial bandaid for people in
    financial trouble hoping that lowering their mortgage will get them through a few
    more months of struggle. I wish the modification programs were better
    designed for that as they were also intended. This HARP program was only
    meant to assist qualified homeowners who are upside down and cannot
    refinance only because of the fallen property values. Qualified borrowers is a
    broad term and does necessarily mean that you meet to basic program
    guidelines, but also meeting the levels of risk analysis and financial ability to
    maintain mortgage payments for the long term. It have read so many of these
    stories in this blog with a heavy heart. So many Americans are struggling and
    deserve some kind of assistance. I see so many others who have jobs and
    money but simply say “I don’t want to mess with my house anymore. I have no
    equity so why should I pay for it? I am just going to let it go.” As this mentality
    continues, it makes it difficult for those who really try and need some
    assistance. I see this EVERY DAY….even with my own personal friends.. They
    just don’t realize the harm they are causing our country and those who truly
    need help. I am sorry so many of you are having so many problems and I wish
    borrowers could just get the right information UP FRONT. That is not too much
    to ask. I have looked at many websites today and I think they are “teasers”.
    nothing I have found offers the real details of the program. Even though I
    cannot offer this program at my company ( I am not a loan servicing company)
    I am trying to assist another customer. It isn’t easy at all!!!

  150. Tim Manni Says: September 30th, 2011 at 8:33 am


    Thanks so much for your insightful comments! Your professional experience certainly lends some great explanation to this confusing and frustrating marketplace.

    Thanks for commenting and reading!

  151. Caroline Bleakley Says: October 4th, 2011 at 9:32 am

    I was recently thrilled to find out I was a perfect candidate for a HARP. However, after getting well into the process, I was told I do not qualify because my loan was not originated with Chase. My Fannie Mae loan orginated with another lender in May 2008 and Chase bought it in 2010. It seems like I am being punished because Chase bought my loan. It looks like banks are adding extra criteria so they don’t have to do these re-fiances. If Chase would not have bought my loan, I would be able to do HARP with my orginal lender — now I am out of luck.

  152. Delores Says: October 16th, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I am about 143% LTV and Bank of American has sold or transferred our Fannie mae or Freddie mac mortgage to Greentree as the servicers. Can we refinance under Harp or whatever the program is in order to save a few bucks? We may have money for the appraisal, but certainly nothing to pay down the mortgage.

  153. Kevin in Crestwood Says: October 18th, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I am with BOA for a mortgage which of course was bailed out…I go to the local branches and I see Mercedes, Lincoln SUV’s, BMW convertilble’s and you go in and you see Starbucks coffee on their desks…. Hey wheres our bailout… I want to refi at a lower rate and told theres nothing they can do…. Oh Yeah I can remove all my money as I wish everyone would…

  154. Kevin in Crestwood Says: October 18th, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Chase does not want to do a HARP refi unless you were originally with them… BOA doesn’t want to refi because of being upside down on the loan… I am being punished for paying my morgage as I agreed to…. We need to remove our moneis from the “big guys” hit them where it counts! the pocket book

  155. Jim Says: November 8th, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I was denied a HARP refinance because I have a second home. The house I was refinancing is my primary home, however, Bank of America said it was not clear that was the case. Hence, denied. Service was absolutely terrible. Is there anyway to complain or file a lawsuit?

  156. CA’s Democrats in Congress Wake Up to Need to Address Foreclosures | Challenge Your Lender Says: November 8th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    [...] there were two components: HAMP and HARP.  HAMP is the Home Affordable Modification Program and HARP is the Home Affordable Refinancing Program.  Neither has come anywhere close to reaching its intended objectives, nor has either made any [...]

  157. Erin Says: December 5th, 2011 at 11:19 am

    To all those who are having a hard time using HARP to refinance, especially with Bank of American, I am a Broker and we do these all the time. There are even more exciting updates and changes comming to the program. :) Feel free to email me if you need some information or assistance.

  158. Caroline Says: December 16th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve owned my home since Dec 2005, and have 2 mortgages. I’ve paid all payments over the past 71 months in-full and on-time. My loan is backed by Freddie Mac, my credit score is at least 740, and I have a total LTV of 130%. Wells Fargo services my first mortgage, and told me that I am ineligible for HARP because my loan originated with a different lender. It’s not my fault that my loan was traded! What recourse do I have?

  159. debbie Says: December 18th, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I have 1st and 2nd with citimortgage. a 3rd with wells fargo. the 2nd and third are line of credits. We contacted citi about the harp program. They charged us 450.00 to do an appraisal for a conventional fixed rate. I know my 1st is fannie mae, I’m assuming the lines of credit are. Our ltv per appraisal they ordered for all three loans is under 85pct. However citi is saying they can only refinance the 1st, that it would need to be 80 ltv to get all done. Why were we charged so much for an appraisal and why can’t I refinance all? Our credit is in the mid 700’s. We are afraid to accept this, as we feel it should be all be combined under harp. Where is the help?

  160. Jennifer Carlson Says: December 26th, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    My husband and I were not in distress, in default, late, or behind on our mortgage with Chase. We have a conventional loan and are ridiculously upside down; but, we’re planning to ride it out. So, we were happily surprised to be solicited by Chase (via a delivery from UPS) with a “one time offer to lower your interest and monthly payments”. It offered to drop our interest from 7.25% to 4.75% (a savings of $400/mo) and make it a fixed rate, rather than the adjustable we had. All we had to do was sign and return the 2-pages, signature only, within 10 days. No income verification. No appraisal. They used the word “modify/modified” throughout the offer, but since we weren’t in distress, we read that word to mean “change”. We did our due diligence to see if our credit would be negatively impacted: we researched several websites (HUD, fannimae, and even Chase) and we called Chase directly and were told that it would not hurt us to accept the offer. It was offered in such a way that it appeared to be a positive offer since we were “good customers”. Nowhere on it did it say that our credit would be impacted. Fast forward to the present. My husband & I are in escrow on a new home, with plans to rent our current home (since the payments have been lowered). But, we’ve discovered that we can’t get financing beacuse Chase reported it as follows: “loan modified; not through a government program”. We took the credit report into Chase and asked why a bank would actively solicit people who were not in distress with a good payment history with a “one time offer”, and then slam them with a comment that is considered to be derrogatory. They effectively took us out of the market for two years – the home loan specialist at Chase said that even he wouldn’t be able to give us financing with that comment. We are furious! We’ve demanded to have the comment removed, but thus far, we haven’t heard back at all. Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated… We have 3 weeks to get this resolved or we risk falling out of escrow on the new place.

  161. Rick Says: January 18th, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I have a Fannie Mae owned loan originated by EMC. Now it is serviced by Chase. Chase says it does not qualify for HARP because they did not originate it. How do I get around this road block?

  162. ikester Says: February 22nd, 2012 at 10:39 am

    @ Jennifer Carlson- your post scared the daylights out of me. But it did make me get more educated about these modifications. You, apprently, refi-ed through HAMP, not HARP. If, if fact, you did refi through HAMP ( which doesn’t make sense being that your principal amount was not reduced), then your credit can be adversely affected. But since it appears that all you got was a rate reduction, that is HARP, so fight like the dicken’s to clean up your credit report. Good luck

  163. Zippy Says: February 28th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Tim. A couple of questions.

    1) Tim, I believe you linked to the HARP website and stated that any loan servicer who had a loan owned or guaranteed by Fanny or Freddy HAD to offer HARP for this loan. Is this true? My loan servicer, Provident Funding, representative stated over the phone today that they did not participate in HARP and only offered 95% of home value in their loans despite the fact that our loan is owned by Freddy. (our loan to value is ~111%)

    2) Federal law mandates that PMI be removed by the servicer when 78% of the ORIGINAL value of the loan is paid. This will happen for us in early 2015 after paying PMI ($150/month) for 12 years. We are paying 5.8% interest and under TARP might be able to refi somewhere around the 5% mark. If by some miracle we are able to refi under TARP, would PMI be re-instated on the new amount of the loan (we would have to pay it for another 12+ years) or would we still be able to automatically ditch PMI in 3 years? Or if we kept the current loan, we would lose PMI automatically in 3 years. Considering refi fees and the extended payment period for the new PMI (doubt if home value will increase to 20% over loan amount anytime soon), one has to wonder if it would pay off to refi in this case?

  164. Tim Manni Says: March 5th, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Hey Zippy,

    1)HARP is still voluntary. Although it doesn’t seem like it’s in their best interest, Provident has the choice. Then again, so do you. Shop around to a different lender and see if they’ll refi your loan. The Making Home Addordable site says, “Call your mortgage lender, or any lender approved to do business with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and ask for a Home Affordable Refinance application.”

    2). You’re not refinancing under TARP, but rather HAMP (see link above). PMI is a sticky issue with refinances. Be sure to read this blog post:

    Thanks for commenting,

  165. Cathy Says: April 30th, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I have a Freddie Mac mortgage, lost 70,000.00 in equity on my mobile home and not through its depreciation. I Owe what it is worth now- 175,000.00 The home is newer,foundation/ full basement and on 5 acres of cleared land with a very nice horse barn. No one will refinance it under HARP or in any way shape or form!!(not even my lender, Ocwen) I am at 6.75% interest, and no PMI.. and it is a huge struggle to make ends meet. Help!!!!!

  166. Bob "Sarge" Forry Says: October 24th, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    For 6 long years we battled the same issues, robbed Peter to Pay Paul so we wouldnt miss or be late on a payment and it hurt us!!! We tried several different companies all of which told us initially that it wouldnt be a problem or “it looks good” only to get another 3 or 4 hundred bucks into the hole for an inspection or appraisal. Best part is that call you get at the 11th hour telling you you need to reduce your debt, come up with another $3000, or, better yet. . . they just say sorry we cant help you.

    Thank God I found this guy, right in my area and he told me that not only were the things the mortgage company doing wrong they were borderline illegal. I cant guarantee you he can help, I can only tell you that he helped us after everyone else failed. I would call him and ask if he can help or knows of anyone in your area that like him, wants to help honest hardworking homeowners and small business owners.

    Tidewater Mortgage Services, Inc.
    3920 Market Street
    Camp Hill, Pa 17011
    cell- 717-571-0772
    fax- 717-620-3302

  167. shelly Says: January 27th, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    This is my situation, LTV 95% one primary mortage with b of a I do have LPMI my original loan was with country wide. Tried to re-finance with a company which determined that I don’t have sufficient income and since they use automated loan submission I don’t qualify until my income will change. They did tell me that my loan services (B OF A) might be able to do manual submission where income won’t be such an issue through the HARP program. Went to my bank loan officer looked at my loan tells me its not fannie mae, I called fannie mae they said they show records my loan is. Called the officer back asking why can’t I qualify he tells me that’s what the computer spitted out I said give me a reason he said I think its the PMI, I said so why are you telling me i’m not fannie mae he said well tell them they have to reported correctley called fannie mae who said tell the bank to call “deskktop underwriter” to correct info, loan officer at B OF A said he will call and look into that. He also said that he have seen loan that where not eligable a year ago to go through as they are constantley updating “something” in the computer.

    question for tim: so do you think they have some sort of flagging system where they don’t let loans with LANDER PMI go through refinance? is this legal? as according to the HARP web site there is no mention of any PMI/OR LPMI that makkes you diqualify?

  168. shelly Says: January 27th, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Just wanted to add: the loan officer at B OF A determined that I don’t qualify just by inputting my loan number in the computer not even getting any reocrds from me such as credit report, income,’s like my loan number was flagged as non-conforming( I think this is the term that he used…).

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