Hope for HARP 3.0 and #MyRefi

2013-08-06_0653Today President Obama answered questions submitted by social media savvy Americans which was moderated by Zillow CEO, Spencer Rascoff. It seemed to me the most common questions were concerning HARP 3.0.  HARP 3.0 (Home Affordable Refinance Program) is currently a hypothetical expanded version of HARP 2.0 and would allow for more home owners, including those in Washington state, to refinance their homes at present low rates.

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Do you have a question for President Obama about housing?

Here’s your opportunity to ask President Obama your question related to housing, including mortgages. Are you wondering why we don’t have HARP 3.0 yet? Or perhaps why HUD does not allow an FHA streamline refi to a shorter term if it increases the payment (even if the borrowers qualify for the increased payment)? Maybe you’re wondering why would bank and credit union loan officers only be registered and held to the same standards as a licensed loan officer?

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President Obama and HARP 3.0 aka #MyRefi

HARP 3 0

With the re-election of President Obama, in my opinion, the odds of HARP 3.0 becoming a reality improved. HARP is an acronym for the Home Affordable Refinance Program. HARP was created to help home owners who would qualify to take advantage of today’s extremely low mortgage rates and refinance except their homes have lost equity. HARP is available for mortgages that were securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009. We are currently on version “HARP 2.0” which was offered expanded guidelines from when HARP first rolled out. For more information about HARP 2.0, click here.

At the beginning of this year, HARP 2.0 was expanded in phases to make the program more available for employed and credit worthy home owners. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reduced the requirement for appraisals and made efforts to make the program more for banks and lenders to offer. However, many banks and lenders have not fully adopted HARP 2.0 guidelines as created by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Some will only offer HARP 2.0 home owners who currently have their mortgage serviced by that bank (where they make their mortgage to). And some lenders have limited what types of HARP 2.0 loans they will accept, for example, refusing to offer HARP 2.0 on loans that have existing private mortgage insurance or LPMI. Or by adding overlays to loans they will accept with limits to loan to value or not accept Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac appraisal waivers. Some wholesale lenders are offering HARP 2.0, however, the demand is so great for these borrowers that it’s not unusual for HARP 2.0 refi’s to take several months to close.  In fact a couple of the these wholesale lenders who were accepting HARP 2.0’s with higher loan to values or pmi have either stopped accepting applications until they can catch up with what they currently have in process.

President Obama and members of Congress have been pushing for a refinance program that would go beyond HARP 2.0. This program has been nick-named HARP 3.0 and has been assigned a hashtag of #MyRefi by the White House.

It is anticipated that HARP 3.0 will have many of the same features available with HARP 2.0 along with:

  • expanding or eliminating the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac securitization cut-off date of May 31, 2009;
  • open to mortgages that are not securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, including qualified borrowers who used jumbo, subprime or other alternative programs. 
  • allow borrowers who have refinanced under earlier versions of HARP to refinance again;
  • expand loan amounts to previous conforming high balance limits. Borrowers in the greater Seattle area with loan amounts at the previous conforming high balance limit of $567,500 may qualify for HARP 2.0, however, they often need to bring in cash to close with the current King County loan limit set at $506,000.

President Obama’s refi plan would probably look more like an FHA refinance and would be available to home owners who have lost equity in their home and have made their mortgage payments on time for the last six months. President Obama has been pushing for programs to become more available to home owners so they they can take advantage of today’s lower rates and help our economy.

When and if HARP 3.0 #MyRefi becomes available to Washington home owners, I will be sure to announce it here!  To stay informed, you can subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter or “like” me on Facebook.  For a mortgage rate quote or to start a loan application for a refi on your home located any where in Washington state, where I’m licensed, please click one of the links above.

Mortgage loans and the first Presidential Debate

Did you watch the Presidential debate last Wednesday?  At one point, President Obama and Mitt Romney discussed regulations that are impacting getting a mortgage – namely: Dodd Frank. When you hear media discussing that some borrowers are  having a difficult time qualifying for a mortgage or that the process is cumbersome, odds are it’s regulations like those you’ll find in Dodd Frank that are the cause. 

Here’s a bit from the debate:

President Obama:

…the reason we have been in such a enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behavior across the board. Now, it wasn’t just on Wall Street. You had…loan officers…giving loans and mortgages that really shouldn’t have been given, because they’re — the folks didn’t qualify. You had people who were borrowing money to buy a house that they couldn’t afford. You had credit agencies that were stamping these as A-1 (plus) great investments when they weren’t. But you also had banks making money hand-over-fist, churning out products that the bankers themselves didn’t even understand in order to make big profits, but knowing that it made the entire system vulnerable.

So what did we do? We stepped in and had the toughest reforms on Wall Street since the 1930s. We said you’ve got — banks, you’ve got to raise your capital requirements. You can’t engage in some of this risky behavior that is putting Main Street at risk. We’re going to make sure that you’ve got to have a living will, so — so we can know how you’re going to wind things down if you make a bad bet so we don’t have other taxpayer bailouts.

Mitt Romney:

Let me mention another regulation of Dodd-Frank. You say we were giving mortgages to people who weren’t qualified. That’s exactly right. It’s one of the reasons for the great financial calamity we had. And so Dodd-Frank correctly says we need to… have qualified mortgages, and if you give a mortgage that’s not qualified, there are big penalties. Except they didn’t ever go on to define what a qualified mortgage was… 

It’s been two years. We don’t know what a qualified mortgage is yet. So banks are reluctant to make loans, mortgages. Try and get a mortgage these days. It’s hurt the housing market…because Dodd-Frank didn’t anticipate putting in place the kinds of regulations you have to have. It’s not that Dodd- Frank always was wrong with too much regulation. Sometimes they didn’t come out with a clear regulation.

Read the full transcript of the Presidential Debate courtesy of NPR.

I was actually surprised to hear “qualified mortgages” (also referred to as QRM or qualified residential mortgage) brought  up in the debate. Banks have been waiting for the definition of what constitutes a QRM for some time. One of the biggest concerns is if the government uses loan to value (how much down payment or home equity) to qualify as a QRM

It’s quite possible that in order for a mortgage to be classified as a QRM, a home buyer may have to come up with 10 or even 20% down payment when they’re buying a home. I would imagine that mortgages that fall outside of the QRM criteria will have much higher rates to compensate for the risk that bank will be taking. First time home buyers or those without larger down payments (assuming loan to value is one of the factors) will be penalized. Obviously this would not help the housing market’s recovery nor help our economy.

The Center for Responsible Lending reports:

QRM mortgages requiring a 10% down payment would lock 40% of all creditworthy borrowers out of the market. A 20% down payment would exclude 60% of creditworthy borrowers.

In my opinion, it’s time to move forward with common sense underwriting. We don’t need the government creating underwriting guidelines for those who are wanting to buy or refinance their home (the flaws with “net tangible benefit” requirements illustrates this).

Stay tuned…

HARP 3.0? Changes proposed to help more home owners refinance #MyRefi

It’s looking like we may eventually see HARP 3.0. This past week, President Obama has issued a “To Do List” for Congress which includes taking steps to make it easier for more Americans to refinance. President Obama says the average homeowner will save $3000 a year by taking advantage of today’s historically low mortgage rates, which would not only help housing, it helps the economy.  

Obama’s refi plan is not new – he’s been pushing this for a few months. If adopted, it would allow “responsible home owners” who do not qualify for HARP 2.0 and are underwater to refinance using an FHA loan. The low payments the White House is using for examples, do not seem to be factoring FHA’s mortgage insurance premiums, which would offset some savings. However, even with the mortgage insurance, many homeowners would benefit from the “Obama refi”.

President Obama is also promoting shorter term mortgages which helps home owners build equity quicker. I hope HUD is paying attention to this. Perhaps they’ll remove the “net tangible benefit” requirements which prevents home owners with FHA insured mortgages from doing an FHA streamline refi from a 30 year fixed FHA insured loan to a 15 year FHA loan – even if the homeowner qualifies for the higher payment! Currently, with an FHA streamlined refinance, the PIMI payment (principal, interest and mortgage insurance) must be lower by 5%. This is our government looking out for us. Again, I’m hoping this changes in light of recent comments by President Obama.

Senators Menendez and Boxer has introduced the “Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act of 2012” in support of President Obama’s To-Do List.

The proposed bill would make the Home Affordable Refinance Program more accessible to underwater home owners by increasing competition. Currently it can be challenging for home owners to find lenders who are willing to go beyond the 105% limits as banks have limited what they’ll allow lenders to do. Mortgage Master Service Corporation recently added lenders who allow us to provide Washington home owners HARP 2.0 refinances without loan to value restrictions.

On Monday, NAMB shared information (via Rob Chrisman) that the proposals would “extend the HARP eligibility date to May 31st 2010. (The bill mentions that May 31st 2010 was chosen because most of the loans originated after this date already have a mortgage rate below 5%.)”.  This would greatly help home owners who just missed the cut-off date of May 31, 2009. With any luck, HARP 3.0 will be based on the closing date of the mortgage instead of when Fannie or Freddie securitized the loan! 

If you would like a detailed mortgage rate quote for your home located anywhere in Washington state, please contact me. Remember, HARP is available for your primary residence, second home, vacation property and investment homes as long as they were securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009.

If you currently qualify for HARP 2.0, I don’t recommend waiting for HARP 3.0. It may not happen and bank overlays seems to change almost daily on what loan to values they’re willing to go to.

Do you want to stay informed of changes going on in the mortgage industry?  You can subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter or like me on Facebook.  Stay tuned!