Troubled homeowners get a lifeline
The government is changing its Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP),
making it easier for homeowners to refinance their underwater, high-interest
Making sense of the story
* Although HARP has helped more than 890,000 homeowners nationwide by
reducing their monthly mortgage payments, there are still millions of
homeowners who are too far underwater to participate.
* Under the new rules, homeowners who owe more than 125 percent of the
market value of their homes will be allowed to refinance into new loans.
* The program also streamlines the refinancing process for homeowners
who are current on their mortgage payments and reduces or removes fees that
previously hindered them from refinancing.
* Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also will reduce the fees they charged in
the past to enable borrowers to better afford the new loans. Among the fees
that will be reduced or eliminated are those for appraisals, title
insurance, and closing costs.
* Fees also will be waived for some underwater borrowers who are
refinancing into 20-year or shorter-term loans.
* HARP is only open to borrowers who are current on their payments for
the past six months with no more than one missed payment in the past 12
months. The loans must have been originally issued before May 31, 2009, and
purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
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SUNIL SETHI REAL ESTATE