what is a HARP loan?

The loan crisis might not make the nightly news any longer, nonetheless that does not mean it’s totally over. There are still amply of proprietors who have trouble keeping up with their loan payments. In fact, 3.5 million proprietors across the nation were extremely under water in the third quarter of 2019. That is 6.5% of the entire number of households in the U.S. with a loan. Being underwater means the mortgage holder be obliged more than 25% of the market worth of the home. These proprietors cannot sell their homes since the price they would probable receive would not satisfy the credit amount. Nonetheless there was some break for people who might find themselves in this condition. In this article we are going to have a deep dive into what is what is a HARP loan?

Since the loan emergency is no extended top-of-mind, underwater proprietors were able to apply for help over the Home Affordable Refinance Program—better recognized as HARP. 

What is HARP Loan ?

HARP is a federal loan refinancing program that offers relief to proprietors who are struggling to pay their mortgage because of unexpected fiscal hardships. The program would no longer be accessible to proprietors as of Dec. 31, 2018.

Formed in 2009 in reply to the housing recession, HARP has assisted more than 3.4 million debtors decrease their monthly loan payments, as said by the Central Housing Finance Agency, which directs the program.

What is HARP Loan ?

How HARP loan works?

The Central Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) formed this program in March 2009 to aid proprietors who were affected through the 2008 housing marketplace collapse. It lets probable debtors refinance their present home loans with nominal or no equity. The proprietors will get a more reasonable mortgage rate, as well as they will not have to add on costly private mortgage insurance similar they would with a traditional loan. As long as the debtor is current on their loan payments as well as their loan-to-value proportion is above 80%, they have a decent chance of be eligible for this program.

The basics of the HARP 2.0 mortgage

HARP has altered over time. In October 2011, the Obama Management announced complete guidelines for the novel HARP, which persons in the industry named HARP 2.0. In November, the Central Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) prolonged HARP as well as declared updated strategies. On March 19, 2012, the start of the automatic loan approval systems extended proprietors’ choices in creditors.

HARP permits proprietors facing problems refinancing their loan over conventional approaches to apply for a refinance of their loan. A proprietor that is present with their regular payments but incapable to refinance because of a drop in the worth is the distinctive prime applicant for the HARP program. The decisive goal is to permit a proprietor to do a loan refinance for a lesser interest rate as well as general monthly payment. Here are the over-all eligibility strategies for HARP:

  • There is no loan-to-value cap in the novel HARP, for fixed-rate credits.

This is the most important change of HARP 2.0. Below previous forms of HARP, the LTV might not surpass 125%.
Maybe the principal news in the November 2011 statement by Fannie Mae plus Freddie Mac was that HARP 2.0 would permit for infinite LTV loans. This went into effect in December 2011 for mortgages processed by the unique lender over the manual underwriting schemes. With the inaugural of the automated schemes in March 19th the anticipation was that creditors would apply these standards toward all new HARP credit applications. The great surprise, as well as dissatisfaction for many, is that several of the lenders have issued firmer guidelines that bound the LTV to the preceding HARP 1.0 125% level otherwise lower. 

  • The credit on your property is possessed or guaranteed through Fannie Mae otherwise Freddie Mac

At the time you apply, you are present on your loan payments. You could have one 30-day late payment in the previous 12 months, nonetheless none inside the previous six months.

Fannie Mae eliminated the “sensible ability to pay” clause.

The refinance progresses the longstanding affordability otherwise stability of your credit.

How Does HARP 2.0 Work


Unlike HARP 1.0, the updated form of the program had no (LTV) ceiling for persons with fixed-rate loans. So, underneath HARP 2.0, it was likely to qualify for a refinance credit with an LTV proportion above 125%. If you had an adjustable-rate loan (ARM), though, you would not be entitled for the program if your LTV proportion surpassed 105%.

HARP 2.0 streamlined the refinance procedure by permitting borrowers to substitute their current mortgage loans without receiving an appraisal or going over an underwriting procedure. Plus, it accustomed or waived some charges for proprietors who wanted to decrease their credit terms. Precisely, it reduced risk-based charges (recognized as loan level value adjustments) to 0% while loan terms continued for less than 21 years as well as to 0.75% while loan-terms continued for as a minimum 21 years.

The last form of HARP also reduced the number of papers needed to prove whether claimants met the program’s income necessities. A debtor could’ve entitled as long as they had sufficient savings to pay their loan for as a minimum a year.

Because of HARP 2.0, proprietors no extended had to work with their unique lenders. They might have entitled for a refinance even if they had lender-paid loan insurance. If you had private mortgage insurance (PMI), you would not have required additional insurance coverage. Also, creditors were off the hook for deception that took place while the original loans were issued.

Background on HARP

While real estate values fall, proprietors with slight equity in their households could find themselves underwater–owed more than on the loan than the household is worth. In this case, refinancing otherwise selling a home could be next to impossible without approaching up with a pile of money, and that is precisely what happened to millions of proprietors through the housing emergency.

HARP was shaped in 2009 to give debtors who were present on their loans but had little otherwise negative equity a chance to refinance on lower rates.

The HARP loan program was adapted over the years as well as ultimately allowed homeowners to refinance up to 125 percent of the worth of their households without main mortgage insurance.

“HARP had its persistence, as well as it worked,” says Frank Ruzicka, senior credit officer at Guild Loan in Chesterfield, Missouri. “Nonetheless I don’t see much demand any longer. There aren’t many persons coming in possessing more than what their homebased is worth.”

After being prolonged twice over the years, HARP deceased on Dec. 31, 2018

Ways to prepare for a HARP refinance

When you decide that you qualify for HARP, it is time to start making your finances. Here are five ways to make for a HARP refinance:

1. Ensure Fannie otherwise Freddie backs your mortgage

Fannie Mae as well as Freddie Mac each have a credit lookup tool which permits homeowners to look for their loan:

To check if your loan is backed by Fannie Mae, visit https://knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup.

If your loan is not found, try Freddie Mac’s credit lookup at https://ww3.freddiemac.com/loanlookup/.

Loans not listed on either website are not financed by Fannie Mae otherwise Freddie Mac and, thus, are not HARP-eligible.

2. Determine if your mortgage is old enough

Only those whose loans were securitized previous to June 1, 2009 could apply for HARP. Generally, this means that your loan must have started in mid-May 2009 otherwise earlier. You could find your mortgage start date through looking at your concluding paperwork.

Note: Meanwhile it can take up to 60 days toward securitize a Fannie Mae otherwise Freddie Mac loan, even if your start date is close toward June 1, 2009, you still might be ineligible.

3. Does your loan have mortgage insurance?

HARP is intended to help proprietors with or without private loan insurance (PMI) as well as lender-paid loan insurance (LPMI). The over-all rule of thumb is that if you have loan insurance, your novel HARP mortgage must have the similar level of coverage.

Some debtors have been denied a HARP refinance owing to LPMI. If your present lender won’t refinance owing to LPMI, shop round for one that will.

4. You must be current

HARP needs that all proprietors have made their previous six loan payments on time, with a maximum of one 30-day late payment in the previous year. This info is confirmed against your credit report, thus be sure to assess your credit reports previous to submitting your HARP application.

5. Organize your HARP paperwork

Since HARP loans are underwritten similar every other kind of mortgage, you will be essential to offer bank statements, a driver’s license, proprietors insurance info, pay stubs plus W-2s. If you are self-employed, you will have to offer a few years of tax returns toward verify your income.

The speed in which you return these stuffs to your creditor can command your loan rate. If you’re going toward apply, you must follow these guidelines to be approved as well as to close as fast as possible.

HARP Eligibility Requirements


If you trust you could advantage from the HARP program, you would make certain that you qualify beforehand you start the application procedure. this way, you will not waste your time going over the application procedure only to be denied on entitlement necessities.

  • Current Loan-To-Value Status

Your loan must have a present loan-to-value proportion of over 80%. This means that your home loan’s current quantity is 81% or additional of your household’s value.

  • Current Mortgage Status

The first thing you have toward look at is your present mortgage as well as your payment history. To be entitled for the HARP program, you must be existing on your loan payments. Moreover, you cannot have any payments that were over 30 days late in the previous six months, as well as no more than one missed payment in the previous 12 months.

  • Lender

Any home loan you want to refinance over HARP must be guaranteed otherwise owned by Frannie Mae otherwise Freddie Mac. If you are not sure which creditor has your present mortgage loan, you could check your Freddie Mac otherwise Frannie Mae loan status.

  • Mortgage Type

To be qualified for the HARP program, you could only have a conventional loan. Other mortgage possibilities similar the USDA, FHA, or VA home credit are not accepted into HARP refinance program.

  • One Use

You might only use the HARP program on the similar property once. Thus if you have had to refinance your household over this program beforehand, you will not be capable to refinance a second time.

  • Origination Date

Your mortgage credit must have a start date on or before May 31, 2009, to meet the necessities for the credit. You can use the tools stated above to find your start date, or you could call 800-7FANNIE or 800-FREDDIE between 8 am plus 8 pm eastern time.

  • Occupancy

The home you want to refinance through the HARP program has a few residence regulations you have to follow to be entitled. The homebased either has to be your main residence, a single unit second home, otherwise a one to four-unit investment possessions.

How can I get started?

The first phase is to figure out if your loan is owned through Fannie Mae otherwise Freddie Mac. Luckily, both agencies have an online tool you could use to see if either of them own your loan:

  • Freddie Mac Loan Lookup Tool
  • Fannie Mae Loan Lookup Tool

You can correspondingly get info over the phone. Call either 1-800-7FANNIE or 1-800-FREDDIE, dependent on which agency backs your credit.

If either agency possesses your mortgage and you trust you are otherwise entitled for the HARP program, start shopping for the lowermost mortgage rates you could find. Once you find the finest deal, the bank otherwise mortgage broker will be capable to walk you over the procedure.

Key differences between HARP and the new programs

There are numerous key differences among HARP as well as the novel high LTV programs.

While HARP only permitted homeowners to use the program once, these novel high LTV programs do not limit how many times somebody can use them. If you by now refinanced with a HARP loan, though, you are unentitled to use the novel high LTV programs, as said by both agencies’ strategies.

Moreover, there is a loan age necessity for the new programs that did not exist underneath HARP. Fannie Mae plus Freddie Mac need underwater credits to be as a minimum 15 months old beforehand they could be refinanced. This allows lenders to get a vibrant picture of the debtor’s payment history as well as decreases loan churning, a predatory loaning practice in which a lender inspires a borrower to recurrently refinance a credit, paying additional charges and interest, without a tangible advantage to the debtor.

The new mortgage programs are founded on the LTV ratio, which is designed by dividing the residual loan balance through the property’s assessed value, as well as is expressed as a ratio. Both programs need a minimum LTV proportion of 97.01 percent for a single-family home-based — higher than the 80 percent least LTV essential by HARP. Similar HARP, there are no LTV greatest for these refinance programs.

Things to know about HARP 2.0

Having Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) could be a problem for debtors interested in the novel 2012 Making Home Reasonable Refinance Program. Owners who bought their home by placing down fewer than 20% of the buying price naturally have PMI (usually with Freddie Mac otherwise Fannie Mae).

PMI would have been needed by the original lender because of the high loan-to-value proportion and association to foreclosure. Having PMI attached toward a loan made that credit easier to sell on the Wall Street secondary marketplace as a “whole credit”. PMI hedged this risk through offering insurance alongside foreclosure for whomever possessed the “whole loan”. If your present loan has PMI it is probable your creditor will not approve you. There are only a handful of creditors who will. Why? The foremost reason is maximum lenders will not accept the novel PMI.

Most of the main PMI companies have signed on toward support HARP, though most lenders have not. Correspondingly, depending on the kind of PMI and who the PMI Firm is might also be a roadblock. The good newscast is you do not need to go to your present lender if they don’t admit your PMI, you could apply for the novel HARP 2.0 loan with any creditor.

Additional feature of HARP is that applicants could forgo a home assessment if a consistent automated assessment model is accessible in the area. This could save the debtor time and money, however is subject to the choice of the loan servicer.

Pros & cons of HARP loan



  • No Maximum Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio

The HARP 2.0 program does not apply an extreme loan-to-value (LTV) proportion which makes it perfect for home proprietors who are under water on their remortgage (loan balance is larger than the worth of the property).  Numerous mortgage refinance program applies a maximum LTV proportion of 97% which means your loan amount cannot surpass 97% of the fair market worth of your home which makes it incredible for underwater debtors to refinance, even if they could afford the new regular mortgage payment.  

  • No Appraisal Report Required

Since the HARP 2.0 program does not use an extreme loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, debtors may not be needed to obtain an assessment report.  In cases wherever lenders can access a consistent property worth estimation from Fannie Mae otherwise Freddie Mac, a new possessions appraisal report is not typically required.  Removing the assessment report saves debtors hundreds of dollars in closing prices and streamlines the loan closing process.  

  • More Flexible Debtor Qualification Requirements

The HARP 2.0 program strategies do not apply a least credit score or maximum debtor debt-to-income proportion in maximum cases.  This streamlines the application procedure as well as enables more debtors toward refinance their mortgage.  Not needing a minimum credit score profits borrowers who might have qualified credit challenges.  



Strict Loan Necessities Means Maximum Borrowers Are Unentitled for Program

The severe loan necessities imposed by HARP 2.0 means that maximum mortgages are not qualified for the program.  First, to be qualified for HARP 2.0, your loan must be possessed or guaranteed through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

  • Borrower Must Be Present on Mortgage

To be in the running for the HARP 2.0 program debtors must be existing on their loan and cannot have any missed otherwise late loan payments inside the six months previous to applying for the credit and no more than one late payment in the previous twelve months.

  • Loan Limits

The program limits the extent of loan you can get over the program.   HARP 2.0 uses the conforming credit limit, which arrays from $484,350 to $726,525 in the adjoining United States for a solo unit property.  In Alaska as well as Hawaii, the conforming credit limit is $726,525 for a single unit possession.  People who live in more expensive zones of the country might find that the HARP credit limits limit their refinancing choices.

Alternatives to HARP loans

Pros & cons

High LTV Options

If your mortgage presently has a high LTV (loan to worth) ratio, you still have amply of choices to save on interest as well as regular payments. HARP was initially created to aid homeowners who were upside down on their loan to help them build equity.

Meanwhile the HARP program completed in 2018, there have been a few alternate programs that stepped in to take its place. These programs are federally-funded as well as can aid you refinance without having toward put down a load of cash.

The FHA Streamline Program

If you have an FHA credit, you might be capable to be eligible for their Streamline program. This product is the flawless choice for many proprietors since they do not need a high level of income, as well as there is no credit underwriting.

These two issues make this program a feasible option for persons who might or else be nervous about refinancing. Additional bonus? There is no assessment required, making the procedure even easier.

The IRRRL Program for VA Loans

For loan holders with a VA credit, the IRRRL Program proffers some inspiring benefits. This acronym stands for Interest Rate Decrease Refinance Credit, as well as it will offer you with a lesser rate upon closing.

A benefit of this program is that there is no novel appraisal required. This absence of an appraisal means you would save money as well as stress.

The USDA Streamline Refinance Program

Alike to the FHA Streamline Program, the USDA form needs no new appraisal plus little to no novel credit underwriting. You do require to be sure that your present income is still below the USDA standard in order to qualify.

Bottom line

Before you go over with a HARP credit, it’s significant to sit down as well as run the numbers. Talk to your creditor to get an idea of how much the refinance might save you as well as how much the closing prices might be. Then calculate how long it would take for you to break even. Make certain you plan to stay in the household for as a minimum that long. Or else, the refinance might not really save you any cash.

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