You may have heard that President Obama plans to open up refinancing to more homeowners who are underwater. If you’ve been hearing questions about this program or are just curious about what the plan involves, here are some of the major highlights:
What’s Really New?
First, it’s important to realize that the president’s proposal is not a new program, but a revision to the current Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). However there are some big changes that you can let people know if they ask you.
Refinance…No Matter How Underwater
Now homeowners can refinance no matter how underwater they are! Before homeowners could only refinance if they were 25% or less underwater, and even then many banks only let people who were 5% or less underwater refinance.
No Appraisal Necessary?
With the program’s revision, it’s possible that an appraisal won’t have to be performed. That’s great news because it can help people save time and money. But this is only the case if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac can electronically estimate the value through their valuation models.
But Keep in Mind…
These updates to HARP apply only to people whose mortgage is currently secured by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac…and whose loan was securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to May 31, 2009. So the chances are that people who have refinanced since May 2009 will not qualify to refinance under the HARP revision.
As of now, the revisions to HARP have been proposed by President Obama and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This directive has been given to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and they now have until November 15, 2011 to give guidance and details regarding how these changes will be run.
If you or someone you know has a question about what these changes mean, call or email me anytime. I’m always happy to help.