Mark Munzenberger GreenPath Student Loan DirectorHome Affordable Refinance Program Expires at the end of 2016
By Mark Munzenberger

GreenPath Housing Director

When you have little equity in your home, or owe as much or more on your mortgage than your home is worth, it can be difficult to find a lender willing to help you refinance. But for borrowers who have remained current on their mortgages, and have loans owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there is hope. It’s called the Home Affordable Refinance Program or HARP.

Introduced in March 2009, HARP enables borrowers with little or no equity to refinance into more affordable mortgages without new or additional mortgage insurance. HARP targets borrowers with loan-to-value (LTV) ratios equal to or greater than 80 percent and who have limited delinquencies over the 12 months prior to refinancing.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Authority, more than 3.3 million Americans have refinanced through HARP, and they estimate that another 367,000 homeowners are eligible at this time. In states like Florida (51,100), Michigan (28,825), and Illinois (32,169) the number of HARP eligible homeowners is significant.

Through HARP, you can get a lower interest rate (which means less out-of-pocket costs each month), get a shorter loan term, or change from an adjustable to fixed-rate mortgage. There’s no minimum credit score needed, either. 

For many borrowers, here are three reasons to consider a HARP:

  1. Secures a fixed-rate mortgage that won’t change over time
  2. Builds equity faster, with a shorter term
  3. Lower closing costs, because an appraisal is not usually required

The end date to get a HARP refinance is December 31, 2016. With mortgage rates continuing to remain at historically low levels, many people might want to consider whether HARP is right for them. In 2014, the average HARP borrower reduced their monthly payment by $179 – that can really add up!

GreenPath Housing Counselors are experts on HARP, and can help explain eligibility guidelines.

Housing expenses are typically the largest expense for a household, so making well-informed decisions about mortgages are very important. GreenPath is here to help – our goal is to make sure our client’s enjoy long-term financial wellness. For more information, contact the GreenPath housing department at (888) 860-4167 or housingdepartment@greenpath.com.