We are here to answer your most common questions about the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). If you have any questions that we have not answered in this FAQ section, please contact us for a free consultation with an expert loan officer. There are many questions and answers on this page, so we recommend that you search for the term you are curious about by hitting ctrl + F. For example, if you would like to look for information regarding how a second mortgage affects your HARP eligibility, search “second mortgage.” If you have a question that we did not answer here, contact us today to speak with one of our expert loan officers.

How can I find out if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backs my mortgage?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have “lookup” forms on their respective websites. You can also check your eligibility on our site by Clicking Here. (link to Am I Eligible Page)

Do I immediately qualify for HARP if my loan is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

Not quite. Having your mortgage held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac is a key pre-requisite of becoming eligible for HARP, but is not the sole requirement. There are a variety of less significant eligibility requirements that should be explained to you by a qualified loan officer. Contact us today to determine your eligibility.

I currently pay private mortgage insurance. Will my PMI payments increase after refinancing with HARP?

Your mortgage insurance payments should not increase; however, you should still make your lender aware that you currently have private mortgage insurance on your loan. When dealing with private mortgage insurance on a HARP refinance, the transfer of the mortgage insurance policy may involve an additional step, but should not prevent you from getting the loan and should not increase your mortgage insurance payments.

Can I refinance with HARP using a different lender if my lender does not participate in HARP?

Yes. You can refinance under HARP using any mortgage lender that has chosen to take part in the program. Remember, the main goal of this program is to help as many homeowners affected by the housing crisis as possible.

Can I still use HARP if my lender does not issue new loans?

In order for a mortgage servicer to issue a new mortgage, they must have a loan officer on staff. Some mortgage companies do not have any loan officers on their staff, and therefore cannot issue new loans. This does not mean that you are ineligible for HARP, it just means that you will have to refinance through a different lender. Contact us today to understand your options.

Can I use HARP if I have an interest only mortgage?

As long as your interest only mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you could be eligible for a HARP refinance. If your loan is not owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you will not be eligible under HARP 2.0’s guidelines.

Can I use HARP if I have a balloon mortgage?

Balloon mortgages could potentially be eligible for refinancing under HARP 2.0. The major pre-qualifiers are that your mortgage must be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and your loan must be under the maximum loan limits for your area.

Is HARP the same thing as HAMP?

HARP and HAMP are two different programs under the Making Home Affordable program. If you have already used HAMP and would like to use HARP, you should contact your current lender to see if you are eligible for HARP.

I used HAMP a few years ago with my current lender. Can I still use HARP?

HAMP and HARP are two different programs, but just because you used one program does not mean you can also use the other. It is prudent to contact your current lender to determine if you are eligible for HARP after you refinanced using HAMP. If you are eligible, it is always a smart idea to shop around to find the best mortgage rates for your HARP refinance.

I was recently divorced and want to remove my ex-spouse from the mortgage. Can I do that when I refinance with HARP?

Similar to a traditional refinance, a HARP mortgage will allow you to remove an ex-spouse from the mortgage, as long as your ex-spouse is also removed from the deed to the property.

Do HARP mortgages use Loan-Level Pricing Adjustments?

This depends on the type of loan. For 20 year fixed-rate loans (or fewer), there are no Loan Level Pricing Adjustments when you refinance with a HARP mortgage. Typically, LLPAs are decreased significantly with a HARP refinance – maxing out at around .75 points.

What about for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage?

Nope. You’re in the clear!

Is HARP different with a loan backed by Fannie Mae than it is with a loan backed by Freddie Mac?

Short of some subtle differences, HARP works in almost exactly the same way with Fannie Mae as it does with Freddie Mac. The small differences most likely will not affect your transaction, as they only affect a very small minority.

Am I eligible for HARP if I have been missing mortgage payments?

Only borrowers who are current on their mortgage can refinance using the HARP program.

My bank told me that I am not eligible for HARP. Can I get another opinion?

You should always get a second opinion, even if you get approved for a HARP refinance loan. If you are denied, there are plenty of banks who will most likely approve you; and if you are approved, you should still compare rates from multiple lenders to ensure you get the best possible deal.

My lender denied my HARP refinance because my loan-to-value ratio is too high. What can I do?

Your LTV is a key metric that banks use to grade their potential investment in your mortgage. Some banks are more conservative than others, and will not take on high LTV loans. Under HARP, you are still eligible, so you should not be discouraged. Simply try at other banks until you find one that will accept your LTV.

My lender denied my HARP refinance because my credit score is too low. What can I do?

Your credit score is a key metric that banks use to grade their potential investment in your mortgage. Some banks are more conservative than others, and will not take on borrowers with low credit scores. Under HARP, you are still eligible, so you should not be discouraged. Simply try at other banks until you find one that will accept your credit score.

Are there any additional fees associated with a HARP refinance?

HARP refinances do not have any additional payments associated with them, so the mortgage rates on a HARP refinance are identical to those for a conventional refinance. Contact us today to get started with your HARP refinance!

Will HARP help me delay my foreclosure?

HARP is only meant to give responsible homeowners who lost equity in their home a chance to save money by refinancing with today’s historically low mortgage rates. As a result, refinancing under HARP cannot help avoid or postpone foreclosures.

What are the minimum requirements to be eligible for the Home Affordable Refinance Program?

To be HARP eligible, your loan must be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, must have been paid on time for at least 11 of the past 12 months (including the last 6 months), must have been secured before May 31, 2009. You also must have never taken advantage of the program before. Once you take advantage of HARP’s great benefits, you are unable to use the program again on the same mortgage.

My home is not underwater. Can I still refinance with HARP?

Your home does not have to be underwater to use HARP 2.0. It just must meet the other requirements specified above.

Will HARP reduce the balance on my mortgage?

No, HARP does not reduce your mortgage balance, nor does it reduce your principal owed. HARP refinances your current loan balance only. It is the same as any other refinance.

I barely missed the May 31st, 2009 deadline. Is there any way I could get an exception?

Unfortunately, HARP does not allow any exceptions. Even if you secured your loan on June 1st, 2009, you would still be ineligible for HARP 2.0.

Why did the government choose May 31st, 2009 as the deadline for HARP?

Officially, that answer is still a mystery. In 2012, a rep. from Fannie Mae said that the cut-off date was selected to be May 31st, 2009 because homebuyers may not have been aware of the impending volatility of the housing market.

I refinanced with HARP before, but interest rates have dropped again. Can I use HARP to refinance again?

No, only one HARP refinance is able to be used on each mortgage.

Does HARP have any LTV restrictions?

There is absolutely no LTV restriction for HARP.

My home has lost most of its equity. Can I still refinance via HARP?

No matter how much equity you have lost in your home, you can still refinance using HARP. As long as your new mortgage is a 30 year (or less) fixed rate loan, you can use HARP no matter how far underwater your home is. Adjustable rate mortgages get a bit trickier, as the LTV must be at or under 105%. The only catch is that a lender still has the right to turn you down if you do not meet their minimum qualification standards. This is why it is important to get rate quotes from multiple lenders.

If LTV doesn’t matter, why did my bank deny my HARP refinance?

Different lenders have different underwriting risk tolerances. A high LTV is risky for a bank because if you default on your payments, they do not have as much collateral to make up their investment. Even though you may be eligible for a refinance under HARP, banks and lenders are not required to finance your loan. Shopping around will be your greatest asset. Chances are that there is a bank out there somewhere who will finance your HARP loan.

Now that the market is improving, my home is finally gaining value. Can I still refinance using HARP?

Increasing home value will typically not hurt your chances of getting a HARP loan, unless your Loan to Value ratio falls below 80%. We encourage you to always shop around for the best rate.

Is there an advantage to comparing interest rates from multiple lenders?

You should definitely shop around for the best mortgage rate possible. To get started with your search, contact us today!

If I refinance into an adjustable rate mortgage using HARP, do I still get an unlimited LTV cap?

No, you must finance into a fixed rate mortgage with a term of 30 years or less in order to get the unlimited LTV. Adjustable rate loans have a maximum allowable LTV of 105%.

Why does my bank say I can only refinance with HARP at a 105% LTV? I asked them for a fixed-rate loan, not an ARM.

Although financing into a fixed rate loan makes you eligible with an unlimited LTV ratio, individual banks may choose to set their own guidelines according to their risk tolerance. This is most likely a policy instituted for this bank only. Shop around, and you should be able to find a bank that will accept a higher LTV ratio.

When I refinance using HARP, can I choose a shorter term? I have a 30 year mortgage now but I would like to cut it down to 15 years.

You can certainly shorten your mortgage term during your HARP refinance, but be careful that you do not overextend yourself financially. Some lenders are hesitant to approve a loan that they believe will cause “payment shock” – basically, too large of a payment increase in comparison to your previous monthly payments.

I put a 20% down payment at closing. My home is now underwater. If I use HARP to refinance, am I going to be required to pay mortgage insurance now?

As long as your current loan does not require private mortgage insurance, your refinanced loan via HARP will not require it either.

Can I refinance my 80/20 mortgage with HARP?

An 80/20 mortgage will not prevent you from taking advantage of the great benefits a HARP refinance can offer, you just must meet the eligibility requirements that all HARP applicants need to meet. Please be aware that you cannot combine mortgages or take cash out of a HARP refinance, though.

My lender told me that I cannot refinance using HARP because I have private mortgage insurance. Is that really the case?

That is false. HARP 2.0 allows you to refinance regardless of whether you have private mortgage insurance or not. Your loan officer may not be very experienced with HARP loans, and you may want to consider using another lender.

My loan currently has LPMI. Can I still use HARP?

Yes. You can certainly refinance with HARP if your loan has lender-paid mortgage insurance. Many banks will require your new loan to have coverage equal to that of your old loan. Contact us today to learn more.

Why is my bank telling me I cannot refinance with HARP due to my LPMI?

Each bank has its own policies pertaining to LPMI. Having LPMI does not make you ineligible for a HARP refinance. If your bank denies your HARP refinance because you have LPMI, simply shop around until you find a bank that will approve you.

Am I responsible for choosing my LPMI coverage after refinancing with HARP?

You should not have to choose your private mortgage insurance coverage. An experienced loan officer will help do this for you. Your sole responsibility is to disclose that you have private mortgage insurance on your current loan. If you do not disclose this early-on, and it is later discovered that you have lender-paid mortgage insurance, your HARP refinance could be delayed significantly.

How can I tell if my mortgage has LPMI?

In almost all cases, your lender will include a disclosure in your closing documents declaring that you have lender-paid mortgage insurance. If you still have those documents available, you may check to see if you have lender paid mortgage insurance. If you do not see a disclosure, you most likely do not have lender-paid mortgage insurance. If you still believe that you have lender-paid mortgage insurance, follow the instructions in the next question.

I’m pretty sure that I have LPMI, but I can’t find a disclosure in my loan package. How else can I tell if my loan has LPMI?

Many lenders will require mortgage insurance if your loan-to-value exceeds 80%% at the time of closing. If your loan-to-value ratio was higher than 80%, and you have not been paying private mortgage insurance, your lender may be paying your mortgage insurance. Call your lender to confirm.

My bank says that I have mortgage insurance, and has denied my HARP loan. I don’t see any monthly payments so I think they’re wrong.

If your bank says that you have mortgage insurance, you probably do. There are two primary types of mortgage insurance – Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance and Private Mortgage Insurance. If you are not making monthly mortgage insurance payments yourself, you still may have LPMI. Having LPMI on your loan does not declare you ineligible for a HARP refinance, so check around with other banks to find one that is willing to finance your HARP loan.

How large of a mortgage can I get through HARP?

This depends on where you live. In most areas, your HARP refinance is limited to $417,000. In some more expensive areas, the limit may be as high as $625,500. Every area is different, and you should click here to check what the conforming loan limits are in your area.

Does HARP allow you to do cash-out refinances?

No, you cannot do a cash-out refinance under HARP. HARP only allows for normal rate-and-term refinances.

Can I refinance my second home with a HARP loan?

As long as you meet HARP’s basic eligibility requirements, you can refinance a second home under HARP in the same way you would refinance a primary residence.

Is there a minimum amount of time I have to stay in my house after refinancing with HARP?

HARP refinances are not limited to primary residences; therefore, there is no minimum requirement for the length of time you must stay in your home after refinancing with HARP. You must be aware that if you do not plan to stay in your house after the refinance process, it will be counted as a secondary or investment property.

Are you sure this information is true? My bank is saying different things.

Since this legislation is relatively new, it is highly probable that the representative you have spoken with is not familiar with the HARP 2.0 guidelines. These HARP frequently asked questions have been thoroughly researched. Try calling another bank and asking to speak with a loan officer about your HARP refinance.

Can I refinance my condo using HARP?

Condos are certainly eligible for HARP refinancing. Any warrantability standards may still apply.

My bank denied my HARP loan because I have a condo. Why?

Under the HARP, condominiums are treated almost identically to houses. They can both be refinanced with the benefits of the Home Affordable Refinance Program. If your bank says that you cannot refinance your condo under HARP, you should shop around for a bank that will refinance your condo under HARP. There should be plenty. Contact us today to get a rate quote for your condo’s HARP refinance.

What kind of costs will I pay to refinance with HARP?

The costs to refinance a loan under HARP are very similar, if not identical, to the costs of closing a traditional mortgage loan. You could possibly have to pay points or certain closing costs. Some lucky individuals may not have to pay anything at all! There is also a Zero Cost HARP Refinance program available that some people may qualify for. Contact us today to learn more and to see if you are eligible.

What does “DU Refi Plus” mean?

When Fannie Mae started the HARP program, they branded their program under the name DU Refi Plus, or DU Refi+.  Freddie Mac also has their own brand name for the HARP program – Relief Refinance.

What does “Relief Refinance” mean?

The term Relief Refinance is a name given to Freddie Mac’s version of the DU Refi+.

I have a 40-year mortgage. Can I still start a HARP refinance?

As long as you meet all of the eligibility requirements, you can certainly refinance your 40 year mortgage under HARP.

My lender says they are not set up for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. How do I get started applying for a HARP loan?

Although any bank can participate in the HARP Program, some banks choose not to. If your bank does not participate in the HARP program, there are plenty of banks you can choose from that will be able to help you instead. Contact us today to get started with your HARP loan!

Can I use HARP to consolidate my mortgages?

No, you cannot consolidate mortgages with a HARP refinance.

I would like to refinance my second mortgage. Can I use HARP for that?

Unfortunately, HARP provides no relief for second mortgages. Borrowers are not allowed to refinance second mortgages under HARP, and they cannot consolidate the second mortgage into the first mortgage.

Is my second mortgage affected when I refinance my first mortgage with HARP?

HARP 2.0 only covers first mortgages. Your second mortgage will remain untouched; however, it is important that you disclose your second mortgage when you speak with your mortgage professional.

My second mortgage company is preventing me from refinancing my first mortgage using HARP. Are they allowed to do that?

Even though this defeats the purpose of the HARP program, the company that owns your second mortgage is allowed to deny your first mortgage refinance under HARP because a second mortgage is counted as a lien against your property. It is somewhat of a technicality, but it is completely legal.

If my second mortgage is not backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, am I still eligible to refinance my first mortgage under HARP?

HARP is only meant to cover first mortgages. They basically declare second mortgages as a non-factor in the process, since they cannot be consolidated or refinanced with HARP. As long as your first mortgage is backed by Fannie or Freddie, you may be eligible. Your second mortgage will not hurt you.

Can I refinance my 80/10/10 mortgage with HARP?

An 80/10/10 mortgage will not prevent you from taking advantage of the great benefits a HARP refinance can offer, you just must meet the eligibility requirements that all HARP applicants need to meet. Please be aware that you cannot combine mortgages or take cash out of a HARP refinance, though.

Can I refinance my investment property a HARP loan?

As long as you meet HARP’s basic eligibility requirements, you can refinance an investment property under HARP in the same way you would refinance a primary residence.

My bank is not setup to issue HARP loans but I would like to refinance. How should I proceed?

You find a new lender! Contact us today to get started with your HARP refinance!

Can I include my closing costs in my HARP refinance loan?

As long as your loan does not exceed the maximum allowable limit in your area, you may roll up your closing costs into the HARP refinance loan. The majority of the country has a limit of $417,000; however, certain higher value markets have expanded limits up to $625,500.

I am currently unemployed and have no income. Am I eligible for HARP?

Believe it or not, there are no employment or income requirements to use HARP. In many instances, you will not have to be re-qualified for your HARP loan. You must be re-qualified if your monthly payment (principal and interest) increases by more than 20%.

My lender needs to verify my income to approve me for a HARP mortgage. What will they want from me?

While HARP has no income requirements, your lender will most likely ask for a verification of your income as part of your approval for a loan. The most common way of verifying your income is to present your W-2 statement from each of the last two years, a recent paystub to show that you are actively employed, and your most recent federal tax return. If you cannot verify your income at all, you will most likely need to show at least one year’s worth (12 months) of principal, interest, taxes, and insurance, also known as PITI. Many lenders will consider this sufficient if you have that much money available.

Could I be denied a HARP loan because I make too much money?

HARP has no income requirements. This means that a high income cannot hurt your qualification for HARP.

When I refinance under HARP, do I need to have a physical appraisal done on my home?

This is up to the bank itself. HARP does not require a physical home appraisal, but your lender may choose to have an appraisal done just to make sure your house is still there.

What is the difference between HARP and a FHA Streamline Refinance?

HARP is a program for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FHA Streamline Refinances run through the Federal Housing Administration. Beyond that difference, the programs are actually quite similar.

Can I refinance through HARP if my loan is backed by Ginnie Mae?

No, Ginnie Mae is technically a FHA mortgage, not a conventional mortgage backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

If I refinance with HARP, do I have to use my current lender?

Nope! Just like with any refinance, you can get your HARP refinance through any lender who participates in the program. It is still a good idea to shop around for a lender with low rates and who is experienced in HARP mortgages.

My current lender says that I have to refinance through them. Are they right?

In almost all circumstances, that statement is false. There are certain situations in which a borrower is precluded from refinancing with another lender, but those instances are few and far between.

Does HARP require me to have a certain credit score?

There is no minimum credit score outlined in the HARP program, but your bank will want to know that you can make timely payments in full, and may use your credit score an indicator of your ability to do so.

My bank called to see if I would like to refinance with them using HARP. Should I shop around?

As with any loan, it is always a great idea to compare rates from multiple lenders when shopping for a HARP refinance loan. One other factor you may want to consider when refinancing under HARP is the experience of the lender with HARP loans. Since HARP is relatively new, an inexperienced lender could overlook important aspects of the transaction and cause unnecessary complication or even cause your loan approval to fall apart by underwriting incorrectly. Total Mortgage Services has handled many HARP Refinances, and can help get you started with a HARP Refinance today.

Does HARP end soon?

HARP ends on January 1st, 2016. There is still plenty of time to act on the great refinance benefits under HARP, but rates may never be as low as they are today!

How can I get started with my HARP loan?

To get started and apply for HARP, contact Total Mortgage Services by using the form on the right. An expert loan officer will contact you shortly to explain and begin the application process.