If a stranger came up to you on the street and said, "You've been paying your mortgage every month since the housing market cratered, right? Even though you're underwater? Well, I want to help you out and give you $200 a month – that’s thousands of dollars a year – just because you responsibly managed your mortgage payments during a tough time."
You'd think it was some kind of scam, wouldn't you?
But if that "stranger" making the offer is the federal government (in the form of the Federal Housing Finance Agency or one of its trusted intermediaries) the offer is legitimate. The so-called "scam" is actually called the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP. It was created to help homeowners like you take advantage of today's very low mortgage rates – even if you have little or no equity in your home.
If you can answer "YES" to all of these questions, you should contact your existing servicer or any participating lender and ask about a HARP refinance.
- Does Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae own or back your mortgage? Check here.
- Was your mortgage originated on or before May 31, 2009?
- Are you underwater, or have a current loan-to-value ratio greater than 80 percent?
- Are you current on your mortgage payment?
- Is your recent mortgage payment history good? That is, you don’t have any 30-day+ late payments in the past six months and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months?
- Is your home your primary residence, second home, or investment property?
Read more about HARP from SVP Paul Mullings in a new Executive Perspectives article.
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