Many homeowners incorrectly assume they don’t qualify for this federal help
The federal government’s newest mortgage relief program has helped thousands of financially troubled homeowners refinance their mortgages to take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates. With the program recently enhanced to broaden the pool of borrowers who qualify, two new websites help homeowners quickly determine if they might be eligible.
The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) allows a homeowner with a qualifying mortgage to benefit from lower rates, even if their home has decreased in value or is worth less than their current mortgage balance.
First launched in 2009, HARP recently was revised (HARP 2.0) to allow refinancing no matter how “underwater” the homeowner might be on the loan. Under the original HARP Program, borrowers did not qualify for refinancing if their loan-to-value limits were more than 125 percent.
In addition, many of the fees associated with the original HARP program were reduced or eliminated under HARP 2.0.
HARP 2.0 requires that mortgages eligible for refinancing be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Also, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac must have taken delivery of such loans before May 31, 2009.
The problem for many homeowners is that most don’t know whether their loans are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac because borrowers make their monthly payments to their lender or loan servicer.
So how can you find out whether your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac? Each entity has established a website that allows homeowners to make this determination.
At http://www.fanniemae.com/loanlookup homeowners simply need to enter their property address to learn if their loan is owned by Fannie Mae. At http://www.freddiemac.com/mymortgage homeowners can determine whether they have a Freddie Mac loan by simply entering their name, address and the last four digits of their Social Security number.
Homeowners should note that there are several other loan and borrower requirements for HARP 2.0. Interested homeowners should contact a qualified realtor or mortgage lender for more information.
Jerry Kline is a Realtor with the Odenton, Md., office of Keller Williams Flagship Realty (1216 Annapolis Rd., Odenton.) For more information on the local real estate market, contact him at (443) 924-7418, or visit his blog (www.JerryKlineRealtor.wordpress.com) or website (www.JerryKline.kwrealty.com).