By Alison Paoli
The HARP 2.0 refinance program became widely available to underwater homeowners on Monday and is expected to bring mortgage relief to those who are current on their home loan, but have been unable to refinance into today’s historically low mortgage rates because of their negative equity status.
The full implementation of the revamped HARP 2.0 program, which was initially announced by President Obama in late October of 2011, has taken several months to come to fruition. And while in recent months it has been available on a manual basis and limited to just the homeowner’s current servicer, the series of changes that the computerized version of the program underwent this past weekend will dramatically increase the volume and speed of applications processed (think flying 100 people across the ocean versus 100 people swimming across it).
To be eligible for a HARP refinance, you can either use this HARP eligibility calculator with detailed eligibility explanations or follow the general guidelines below:
1. Your loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. If you are unsure, you can check both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s websites or you can call their toll-free number for confirmation.
Fannie Mae: http://www.fanniemae.com/loanlookup/ 1-800-7FANNIE (8 am to 8 pm ET)
Freddie Mac: https://ww3.freddiemac.com/corporate/ 1-800-FREDDIE (8 am to 8 pm ET)
2. You must have closed your current loan on or before May 31, 2009.
3. You must not have made a late payment within the past six months and have had no more than one late payment within the past 12 months.
4. Your loan must fall under the current conforming loan limits. If you are unsure, you can find out here: http://themortgagereports.com/loan-limits/
If you met the general guidelines, what’s next?
Zillow’s Director of Mortgages, Erin Lantz, recommends you start by contacting your current loan servicer to see if you are eligible. “You current servicer should be able to tell you if your loan qualifies for a HARP refinance and can help you apply for it. However, just like a regular mortgage program, it makes sense to shop around and compare rates, fees and lender service levels. So start with your current servicer, but it is also a good idea to check out at least one other lender.”
HARP Program specific contact information for major mortgage servicers with whom you already have a mortgage through (not for new loans or shopping for a new servicer):
Bank of America: 1-800-846-2222
Wells Fargo: 1-877-937-9357
US Bank: 1-866-932-0462
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