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Common Questions Borrowers Ask About Mortgage Refinance and HARP 2.0

Written By:
March 28, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Many homeowners who are current on their mortgage payment, but have not been able to obtain a mortgage refinance through conventional means. Like nearly 11 million Americans, they have underwater mortgage – owe more on their loans that the value of their homes. The revised edition of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) will help millions of borrowers refinance into lower interest rate loans.

Homeowners must apply for the program and meet the less stringent underwriting criteria. As the program is set to go into full bloom, many people have questions concerning eligibility. Following are three of the most common questions borrowers have about HARP 2.0.

1) Question: How can I find out if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns my mortgage?

Answer: contact your mortgage servicer to find out if Fannie or Freddie owns your loan, you can also go to their websites and look up the information.

Go to Freddie Mac

Go to Fannie Mae

2) Question: Can I mortgage refinance my second home or investment property under the revised Harp program?

Answer: The revised program allows homeowners to refinance qualified second homes and investment properties – 1 to 4 units, under the revised program. Borrowers must meet other qualifications.

Borrowers will also incur additional costs or delivery fees, which the program as a needed to offset the increased risk. Servicers cannot charge homeowners who refinance under HARP 2.0 delivery fees of more than 0.75% of the loan amount.

The program allows mortgage lenders to assess these fees to borrowers as up front charges or in the form of a higher mortgage interest rate. According to Freddie Mac spokesperson Brad Jermaine, borrowers will incur an additional cost of 40 basis points, or 0.4% on the interest rate, of a fully amortized 30-year fixed rate mortgage with a two percent delivery fee. This equates to borrowers paying an additional $35 per month on a $150,000 mortgage.

Fannie Mae calls the delivery fees “loan level pricing adjustments." Borrowers who apply to finance second homes or investment properties can also receive additional charges, up to 2% of the loan amount, if the loan-to- value ratio exceeds 105%. The refinance loan must also have an amortization shorter than 30 years, says Fannie Mae spokesperson Andrew Wilson.

Borrowers should note that the HARP program allows mortgage lenders to assess their own requirements on top of the conditions specified by Fannie and Freddie. Contact your mortgage servicer to determine the requirements you must meet to refinance into a low interest rate loan.

3) Question: What options do I have if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac does not guarantee my loan?

Answer: If you have a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), you might be eligible to refinance to a more stable FHA insured loan under the agency's streamlined finance program, which requires a minimal of documentation.

In an attempt to broaden the program’s outreach, the FHA announced that it would reduce mortgage insurance premiums for borrowers who refinance their mortgages under its streamline refinance program. Homeowners must have a mortgage insured by FHA before June 1, 2009. In addition, borrowers must be current with mortgage payments and refinance on or after June 11, 2012.

Borrowers who have underwater mortgages, but do not have loans guaranteed by FHA or one of the government –sponsored enterprises, may have an option to refinance under the $26 billion mortgage settlement reached between the government and the five largest mortgage servicers.

Citibank, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ally Financial, and Wells Fargo will make about $3 billion of the settlement money available to eligible borrowers, with underwater mortgages, to refinance their mortgages. Your mortgage must be service or owned by one of these institutions. In addition, you must have a minimum mortgage interest rate of 5.25% and have no late mortgage payments in the last 12 months. Borrowers who declare bankruptcy in the last 24 months do not qualify for the program.

Contact your servicer to find out if you qualify to refinance. You can also contact one of mortgage lenders to see if you qualify for HARP 2.0 depending on your loan information. HARP 2.0 Qualification.

Some borrowers who cannot refinance their mortgages, or suffered financial damage from an improper foreclosure, may have other options under the mortgage settlement agreement or the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Your loan servicer can provide more information.





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