September 24th, 2013

FHFA hypes new HARP website



Homeowners, it’s not too late to refinance your mortgage through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which allows underwater borrowers to refinance in order to lower their monthly payment or shorten their repayment term.

That’s the message the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) wants to communicate through a new website and promotional campaign.

The new HARP.gov

The effort includes a new website, www.HARP.gov, and promotional support from Mike Aubrey, a realty salesperson at RE/MAX Metropolitan Realty in North Potomac, Md., and HGTV personality.

“HARP is an absolute no brainer for eligible homeowners. This program allows underwater homeowners the option to refinance at a lower rate and in my book that is a great deal,” said Aubrey in a release. “I spend my time on TV and as a realtor trying to get great deals for my clients. FHFA has already done the legwork to create an amazing deal. It’s as simple as finding out if you qualify, getting the refinance done and watching the savings add up.”

The website contains promotional information about HARP, HARP eligibility guidelines, tips on how to get started, ways to avoid HARP scams, and links to two other government agencies: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission.

HARP criticisms

HARP was introduced in early 2009. Since then, more than 2.8 million homeowners have refinanced through the program, still far below the intended number of homeowners the program set out to reach.

Cynics might wonder why it took four years for the FHFA to create HARP.gov, though HARP guidelines and information was also laid out within the MakingHomeAffordable.gov website.

Making Home Affordable (MFA) encompasses HARP, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and other government programs intended to help homeowners who might be struggling to make their mortgage payment.

HARP eligibility

In a statement, FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco said the agency hopes to reach homeowners who might not know about HARP or might not understand the HARP eligibility criteria.

To be eligible for HARP:

  • A loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and have been sold to either of those entities on or before May 31, 2009
  • The current loan-to-value ratio must be 80 percent or higher
  • The borrower must be current on the payments, have made no late payments in the last six months and have made no more than one late payment in the last 12 months

Borrowers can use the loan lookup functions to find out whether Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns their loan and then contact a lender for more information.

  • Loan lookup for Fannie Mae: http://knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup
  • Loan lookup for Freddie Mac: https://ww3.freddiemac.com/corporate/
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HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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