Another extension for HARP…so what

MortgagePorter-HARP2According to Housing Wire, it looks like HARP (aka the Home Affordable Refinance Program) may once again be extended through 2016. The HARP program was created for home owners who have conventional Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgages and who had lost equity in their homes due to the mortgage meltdown, making it impossible to refinance. With HARP, appraisals are often not required and over the past few years, underwriting guidelines have become more relaxed with this program.  So why the “so what”?

Many have already taken advantage of the HARP program and combined with rising home values,  it seems to be fizzling out…at least in the greater Seattle/King County area.

If our government really wanted to pump life back into HARP, they need to make some improvements to the program to expand it to more home owners. For example, currently for a home owner to qualify for a HARP refinance, their Note on their existing mortgage must be dated prior to June 1, 2009. I would like to see this requirement removed. Why should a home owner with a note dated July 1, 2009 not be allowed to use HARP when someone who closed on month earlier is permitted?

This is non-HARP related…but since I’m harping (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) about refinances… I would like to see the same date requirement removed that allows home owners with FHA mortgages to refinance with reduced FHA mortgage insurance removed. Why not have FHA be more like a VA refinance with a flat reduced mortgage insurance rate instead of two different premiums and allow more home owners to refi?

Just a few thoughts on a hot, sunny Seattle afternoon before I take off to teach a home buyers class.  Stay cool!

PS: If you are interested in a HARP refi (or any refinance) or buying a home located anywhere in Washington state, I am happy to help you!  Click here if you would like me to provide you with a rate quote.

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