The third time must be a charm.
After two previous government efforts to help “underwater” homeowners — those whose mortgage greatly exceeds their declining home values — bankers are saying a third effort is helping.
HARP 2.0, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, is a government-backed program that provides refinancing assistance to responsible homeowners with a history of making their mortgage payments on time and who are underwater because of declining home values.
For millions of underwater homeowners, HARP is the only program available that will allow them to refinance at today’s low interest rates, says Todd White, Arvest Mortgage Company senior vice president.
“Many homeowners with jobs and good credit have found it difficult to refinance when the market value of their home is worth less than the mortgage itself. Thankfully, the latest version of HARP will accommodate many more homeowners than the previous version,” White said.
state’s largest mortgage lender, says it has experienced a 162% increase in HARP loans in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011.
“We have seen a significant increase in HARP loans since the unveiling of HARP 2.0. And, unlike some of the larger banks, Arvest is providing these loans to customers and non-customers alike,” White says.
HARP 2.0 opens the program to more homeowners by relaxing some of its criteria – most notably, allowing for an unlimited loan-to-value ratio on fixed-rate loans. Previously, under HARP 1.0, only borrowers with ratios of 125% or less could refinance.
The new version of the program also eliminates the appraisal requirement.
Currently, the program is only available for mortgages that are owned or guaranteed by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) before May 31, 2009.
The HARP program is available through Dec. 31, 2013.