Syndicated — While there have been a handful of programs designed to help people refinance and take advantage of lower interest rates since the housing downturn, none has been as successful as the Home Affordable Refinance Program, commonly referred to as HARP.
HARP was first announced in April 2009 and was revised (called HARP 2.0) in March 2012. The following information is accurate as of July 2012, but with at least some talk of a possible HARP 3.0 revision coming, there could be further changes to the program in the future.
Which loan types are eligible?
HARP is not designed for just any type of mortgage loan; it is designed exclusively for conventional loans that are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. If you have a loan that is not backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (for example, an FHA, VA, jumbo or USDA loan) it is not eligible for the program. In addition to being backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the loan must have had a securitization date prior to June 1, 2009.
The easy way to tell whether your loan is HARP-eligible is to use the easy lookup tools provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
Also, in order to be HARP-eligible, you must have not participated in HARP before and must have made your mortgage payment on time for the previous six months, with no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.
Not all lenders are participating in HARP
Once you have established that your mortgage is HARP-eligible, the next step is to find a lender that can help you take advantage of the program. If your current lender isn't participating in HARP, it doesn't mean that you are stuck. Thanks to the guideline changes of HARP 2.0, you can use any lender you wish.