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.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac improve HARP 2.0 Underwriting Guidelines

On Friday, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced much needed updates to underwriting guidelines for HARP 2.0. The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0) has helped many Washington state homeowners with conforming mortgages (securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009) take advantage of historically low mortgage rates regardless of their home’s current equity (or lack thereof). You can learn more about the HARP 2.0 program by clicking here.

The recent updates to HARP 2.0 will allow more home owners to have access to this program by reducing documentation requirements for some borrowers. Here are some of the improvements:

  • Reduced documentation for income and assets. NOTE: Form 4506 and verification of employment will still be required. Lenders will not be required to verify large deposits.
  • Allowing borrowers with assets to not have to document income. This is available when a home owner has at least 12 months of their proposed new mortgage payment (PITI) in savings. The assets may come from checking or savings, stocks or vested retirement accounts.
  • Improvements to when a borrower is removed from the mortgage. Previously if a borrower was being removed with the HARP 2.0 refinance, guidelines required proof that the remaining borrower made the mortgage payments for the last year with their own separate funds (except in the case of death). Now with HARP 2.0, in the remaining borrower can qualify on their own (debt to income at 45% or lower and credit scores of 620 or higher) they may qualify for a HARP 2.0 refinance.

Remember, banks and lenders may layer their own underwriting guidelines to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s HARP 2.0 program.

If you have been turned down for a HARP 2.0 refinance before, it may be worth checking with your local, licensed mortgage originator to see if you are now eligible. HARP 2.0 is available for owner occupied, vacation homes and investment properties.  I can help you if your home is located anywhere in Washington State – click here for your HARP 2.0 rate quote.

FHA Rate-Term Refi’s may be a Great Option for Higher Loan Amounts

I have been working with a couple of Seattle area home owners who either have a jumbo mortgage or have a mortgage that used to be “high balance conforming” and were caught “in the gap” when conforming high balance loan limits were rolled back to $506,000 in King County.  A jumbo (aka non-conforming) mortgage is a loan amount over $506,000 in King, Pierce or Snohomish counties for a single family dwelling.

Jumbo mortgages typically require an 80% loan to value for a refinance. This can also cause a challenge if the home has lost equity and the values are “underwater” or above an 80% loan to value. Homeowners with an existing Jumbo mortgage do not qualify for HARP 2.0 since their existing mortgage is not securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Homeowners who have a High Balance Conforming mortgage from prior to to loan limit roll back may qualify for HARP 2.0 – however, their loan limit will be restricted to the current levels ($506,000 in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties) causing them to have to bring “cash in” to close.

One client, let’s call him “Mike in Magnolia”, has a jumbo mortgage at 6.500% with a balance of $640,000 and estimates the value of his Seattle area home to be around $600,000.  He’s really like to refinance and take advantage of the current low mortgage rates.  

One option would be an FHA jumbo which would allow a loan amount up to $567,500. Based on this scenario and pricing as of 1:30pm 9/6/12, his rate would be 3.500% for a 30 year fixed (apr 4.382). This would provide him a PIMI (principal, interest and mortgage insurance) payment of $3,155.46 and cash for closing would be around $78,000. His home could appraise for as low as $585,000 and still have this scenario work at an 97.75% loan to value.

If Mike is willing to bring $142,000 to closing, he could consider a conventional refinance at $506,000. His home would need to appraise for around $600,000. Based on current rates of 3.875% for a 30 year fixed (apr 4.117); his PIMI payment would be $2640.83. His home would need to appraise for at least $600,000 for an 85% loan to value.

I’m working with another client who has a condo in downtown Seattle that has lost value. They obtained their mortgage after May 31, 2009, so it does not qualify for HARP 2.0. The condo IS on HUD’s approved list for FHA financing which will allow them to take advantage of today’s lower FHA mortgage rates with a loan to value of up to 97.75%.

FHA rate-term refinances are a “full doc” loan and will require an appraisal.  FHA mortgages may be assumable to a qualified buyer should these clients decide to sell their homes in the future.

If you’re interested in an FHA mortgage or having me review your scenario for your home located anywhere in Washington state, please contact me.

Answering a question regarding HARP 2.0 and PMI

Dear Rhonda:

I currently pay PMI on my mortgage, if I refinance under HARP 2.0, after refinance, will the PMI still exists? Would the PMI premium be lower since the amount refinanced is lesser than the previous mortgage?

Dear Reader:

Yes, if you currently pay PMI on your HARP 2.0 eligible mortgage, you will also have private mortgage insurance in your new mortgage payment with your new refinanced mortgage.  It will be based on the same coverage (percentage) amount as your existing pmi. So if your mortgage balance is lower, the monthly pmi payment may be slightly lower as well.

I recommend comparing your existing payment (PIMI) to the proposed new payment, factoring in when your existing PMI may drop off.  If you’re within months from your existing pmi dropping off, it could be worth delaying refinancing, however, if t’s after December 2013 (when HARP 2.0 is currently scheduled to terminate) it’s probably in your favor to refinance now.

If your home is in Washington state, where I am licensed to originate, I’m happy to help you.

HARP 2.0 Refi Volumes Dramatically Up while Major HARP Lender Holds Off on New Applications

In a report issued earlier this month by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, it was revealed that many home owners are taking advantage of the HARP 2.0 refinance program.  From the FHFA’s Refinance Report:

“In June, borrowers with loan to values greater than 105% accounted for 62% of HARP volume, up 32% in May ad 15% in 2011. In addition, 18 percent of underwater borrowers chose shorter-term 15 and 20 year mortgages, which build equity faster than traditional 30 year mortgages.”

It hasn’t always been a slam dunk for home owners to find lenders willing to do higher loan to value HARP 2.0. Some banks have been limiting who they will help with HARP refi’s and/or have additional underwriting overlays in addition to the Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines. This causes the entire process to bog down when only a few resources are available to the hoards of borrowers who need help.

Last month, I shared with you that one of our resources, EverBank, elected to stop offering HARP 2.0 refinances to mortgages securitized by Freddie Mac. Yesterday we learned that another major lender in the HARP 2.0 arena, CMG Mortgage, has elected to to stop accepting applications effective yesterday in an attempt to get a handle on the volumes of applications they already have in their pipeline.  From CMG’s memo yesterday:

“Like you, we knew this program would help millions of Americans that have struggled to stay in their home despite their property being substantially underwater…. What we didn’t know was that so few lenders would have stopped either partially or completely offering HARP 2.0. As a result, we have become inundated with business. …our turn times do not make us happy, you happy or your borrowers happy…we feel the need to temporarily stop taking HARP 2.0 loans to allow us to catch up…. Once turn times are back in line, we will resume taking submissions of HARP 2.0 loans as we have i the past.”

We are still accepting applications for HARP 2.0 mortgages for homes located in Washington state. We are brokering most loans that are over 105% loan to value which means they do take much longer to close. Most loan to values under 105% we are able to care for through our correspondent channels.

If you’re interested in refinancing your Washington home, I’m happy to help you. 

Freddie Mac HARP 2.0 refis to get a little easier

Last week, Freddie Mac issued a press release stating they plan on improving the guidelines for Freddie Mac’s HARP 2.0 program – Refi Relief and Open Access (more commonly known as HARP 2.0).  Freddie Mac HARP refi’s have proven to be more challenging to successfully process and close than Fannie Mae’s HARP 2.0 refi program.

At Mortgage Master Service Corporation, we are closing both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac HARP 2.0 refinances. We have fewer lenders who offer Freddie Mac’s program due to their current program guidelines. This announcement from Freddie Mac is a big relief!

From Paul Mullings, Senior Vice President and Interim Head of Single Family at Freddie Mac:

“Once implemented the changes will give lenders a new measure of certainty and ease when they help borrowers with Freddie Mac owned- or guaranteed- mortgages take advantage of today’s historically low mortgage rates. This will help us build on the success of the HARP 2.0 and Relief Refinance Mortgage programs of helping more than 1.3 million Freddie Mac borrowers…”

This means that if you have been previously turned down for a Freddie Mac HARP 2.0 refinance, you may have another shot in a couple months.

Watch for an announcement around mid-September with more details to follow.  To stay informed, subscribe to my blog!

UPDATE September 18, 2012: Click here to check out  the improvements to HARP 2.0.

How Long Will PMI Stay on my HARP 2.0 Mortgage?

This is a question that I’m often asked by Washington  home owners who are considering refinancing their current conventional mortgage using the HARP 2.0 program. The answers I’ve received from private mortgage insurance companies vary from “it’s up to the mortgage servicer” to “when the new loans principal reaches 78% loan to value”.  

If your current loan to value is triple-digit because of being underwater, the thought of paying private mortgage insurance for years may not sound appealing. Here are some points I encourage my clients to consider:

  • determine when your existing private mortgage insurance is set to terminate. If it’s before December 2013 (assuming the HARP program is not terminated early, which Fannie and Freddie have reserved the right to do) you could consider delaying your HARP refi so that you won’t have PMI on the new loan.
  • compare your existing principal and interest payment (excluding the private mortgage insurance) to the proposed HARP payment including principal, interest plus mortgage insurance.  Many of my clients are saving hundreds of dollars each month – even with keeping their mortgage insurance.
  •  consider how long you plan on keeping your home and what your alternatives may be. If you are underwater and are planning on staying in your home or eventually converting it to a rental property, reducing your payment now may be beneficial. If you are planning on doing a short sale, then refinancing at this time would probably not pencil out.

With HARP 2.0 refinances, when you have private mortgage insurance, most pmi companies are transferring the pmi certificates over to the new lender without any issues. The pmi rates stay the same so if you’re currently paying private mortgage insurance monthly, you can estimate that the new pmi payment will be roughly the same with your new mortgage payment.   

If you have lender paid mortgage insurance, often times it was paid for upfront and there will be no private mortgage insurance for the home owner to pay. Sometimes the lender paid mortgage insurance (LPMI) was being paid monthly by the lender and in those cases, the pmi company may convert the policy to “paid monthly” so the borrower can assume it.

If you’re interested in a mortgage rate quote for a HARP 2.0 refinance for your home located anywhere in Washington state, contact me.

Freddie Mac HARP 2.0 Loans Getting Tougher

One of the lenders that we work with for Freddie Mac HARP 2.0 refi’s has announced today that they are not accepting applications for loans locked after July 20, 2012.

The bank states they’re doing this to get a handle on their pipeline. If you’re in the process of refinancing via HARP 2.0 and you have a loan to value that exceeds 105%, you may already know that the process seems to be taking a couple months.

If you qualify for a HARP 2.0 refinance: if you have lost equity in your home and your current mortgage is securtized by Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009 – please do not delay starting your HARP 2.0 refinance… your options may be dwindling.

If your home is located in Washington state, I’m happy to help you with your refinance.