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What is the HARP refinance program?

If you are a Connecticut homeowner facing financial difficulties, you may fear that you will be unable to stay current with your mortgage payments and therefore lose your home through foreclosure. Another problem you may face is that your home has lost value since you purchased it and is now worth less than your mortgage balance. If this is your situation, you may wish to check out the Home Affordable Refinance Program, popularly known as HARP.

As explained by The Mortgage Reports, the purpose of HARP is to let you refinance your home at today’s mortgage rates that likely are lower than when you purchased your home. Originally established in 2009, HARP has since helped over 3.3 million homeowners who were “upside down” in their homes to advantageously refinance them. The average annual savings in mortgage payments is approximately 30 percent.

The government came out with a new version of HARP in 2012. Under HARP 2.0, several of the more onerous eligibility requirements originally associated with the program disappeared. Nevertheless, fewer than expected homeowners are taking advantage of HARP today. The program and its benefits are not widely known.

Who and what properties are eligible?

Even if you were turned down in a previous HARP application, you should try again. You are eligible if you are upside-down in your mortgage, but are current on your payments. Your home is eligible if it is one of the following:

  • Your primary residence
  • Your second and/or vacation home
  • Your investment property

You also qualify if you have a second mortgage on your home or property. You cannot, however, combine your first and second mortgages into one refinance package. Your second mortgage holder must give you permission to refinance your first mortgage.

“Anywhere” refinancing

One of the biggest HARP advantages is that you can apply to any HARP-approved mortgage lender. You need not go back to the lender from which you obtained your current mortgage. Not all mortgage lenders participate in the HARP program, and mortgage rates vary from institution to institution, so shop around for the HARP-approved lender that best fits your needs.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that HARP 2.0 expires in December of this year. Therefore, if you wish to avail yourself of its benefits, you must do so quickly.

While this information should not be taken as legal advice, it can help you understand the HARP process and what to expect.

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