In 2009, the mortgage bailouts continued with a new home refinancing program designed to aid struggling homeowners who have not been able to qualify for traditional refinance loans due to declining property values. Unfortunately, the recent housing crisis eroded the home equity for millions of homeowners. The Home Affordable Refinance Programs rolled out new government refinancing options that became available to a large sector of borrowers. HARP is part of the Obama mortgage plan that helps Americans reduce their loan payments or alter their current mortgage to be able to stay in their home and avoid foreclosure.This latest government refinance initiative offers unique advantages over conventional home refinancing because it requires no equity. In fact the home values have depreciated so significantly that the latest Obama mortgage plan enables borrowers to refinance their mortgage up to 125% of the property’s present value. The 125 loan plan aims to refinance borrowers into lower mortgage payments.HARP Loan Qualifications: The Home Affordable Refinance Program allows a homeowner to refinance their current mortgage as long as the home is used for primary residency. The homeowner must be current (less than 30 days late in the last 12 months) with their existing mortgage and the mortgage must be insured by one of the mortgage companies that are backed by the government (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac). The home must have been purchased before or on January 1, 2009 to qualify. The home’s value must also have dropped causing the homeowner to not be able to refinance using conventional loans.HARP loan limits have been set at $417,000 for the time being. There is a vast group of Americans that owe more on their mortgage than their house value is worth after real estate values dropped. Another group of Americans are not “upside down” in their mortgage, but they cannot refinance conventionally because refinancing 80% (% most lenders use) of the home’s current value does not allow them to even pay off the existing mortgage.The Home Affordable Refinance Program may finally be the solution that many Americans have been looking for. Past government refinance plans like Hope for Homeowners and FHASecure were unable to help the average borrower refinance because they could not qualify due to lending program glitches. FHA refinance may still be a good fit for borrowers who have credit scores below a 620, but the borrower must be able to display compensating factors. Like conventional and FHA mortgage loans, pay stubs are required, and borrowers must be able to document that they have the ability to afford the new loan payments.
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