By John Voket


What would be better than a holiday gift of lower mortgage payments - or the peace of mind of knowing your underwater mortgage comes with more affordable payments?

I am reminding homeowners anticipating - or already in financial distress that The Home Affordable Refinance Program 2.0 (HARP 2.0) is available to assist them by refinancing their mortgages – even if they owe more than the home’s current value.

Nine out of 10 of eligible homeowners fail to take advantage of this government program.

But almost anyone who is current on their mortgage, with or without equity, are likely to be eligible.

In an effort to help HARP 2.0 to reach more U.S. homeowners, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have changed their respective Harp 2.0 mortgage guidelines. HARP 2.0 requirements allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to no longer require verification of income from at least one HARP 2.0 borrower.

HARP 2.0 also has fewer documentation requirements. For example HARP 2.0 guidelines no longer require verification of large deposits that appear on applicant's bank or other asset statements.

The HARP 2.0 guidelines are newer, simpler, and designed to approve more loans so if a homeowner was turned down for the HARP program in the past, they are urged to apply again.

HARP eligibility criteria include:

  • The mortgage MUST be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  • The mortgage MUST have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009.
  • The mortgage CANNOT have been refinanced under HARP previously unless it is a Fannie Mae loan that was refinanced under HARP from March-May, 2009.
  • The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio MUST be greater than 80%
  • The borrower MUST be current on the mortgage at the time of the refinance, with no late payment in the past six months and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.
  • You have a reasonable ability to pay the new mortgage payments.
  • The refinance improves the long term affordability or stability of your loan.


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