Today someone body found my blog by googlineg: "Should I refi now or wait for the new HARP program". This is such a great and timely question that I thought I'd take a few moments to answer.
The "new HARP" is actually available now on applications that are dated December 1, 2011 and later. HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) is for mortgages that were securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to May 31, 2009. This is different than who your mortgage servicer is (who you make your mortgage payments to) and the date the mortgage was securitized is often several weeks after the actual date your transaction closed.
Washington State home owners are eligible for this program are especially excited for the "new HARP" (also referred to as HARP 2) because of the expanded loan-to-value guidelines. Owner occupied homes will eventually have the 125% loan to value limit removed making it possible for more home owners who have made their payments on time but have lost equity in their homes to refinance into a fixed rate mortgage. Those opting for an adjustable rate mortgage will have a maximum LTV of 105%.
Why would somebody wait to refinance? HARP 2 is releasing the expanded guidelines in phases. Fannie and Freddie are allowing lenders to offer HARP (DU Plus and Open Access) with March 15, 2012 being the date that loan to value restrictions are removed for this program.
Another reason some home owners are waiting is that some private mortgage insurance companies and mortgage servicers are working out the final details on how to transfer or reissue pmi certificates. With HARP 2, borrowers with pmi should have more possibility of being able to refinance.
Why you should begin the refinance process now. I'm currently helping several Washington home owners with their HARP refi without an appraisal being required. After we receive the full loan application, we submit the loan to Fannie or Freddie's automated underwriting system to see what our approval is and what the conditions may be. Many HARP refi's are being now approved with the apprasial being waived which allows my client to decide if they'd like to lock in today's low rate now or wait and float their interest rate.
If we discover that Fannie or Freddie are not accepting the value based on the current phase of HARP we are in, we continue the application and wait for the next phase to try again. This gives us time to work on anything that may need a little extra attention such as reducing debt to income ratios or improving credit scores.
This also provides an opportunity to get our ducks in a row and have your application completely ready so that when and if your transaction is approved without an apprasial being required, you're in position to close rather than starting with volumes other home owners hoping for their HARP refi.
We are currently accepting applications for HARP 2 refinances for homes located in Washington, even if some of the refinances may have delayed closings. I have several clients who are getting ready to close just after the new year, enjoying the benefit of their much reduced mortgage payments.
I am required to have the language below if I am soliciting your Home Affordable Refi for your home in Washington…and yes, I would love to help you with your HARP (or any) refinance:
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have adopted changes to the Home Affordable Refinance program (HARP) and you may be eligible to take advantages of these changes.
If your mortgage is owned or guaranteed by either Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, you may be eligible to refinance your mortgage under the enhanced and expanded provisions of HARP.