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Thinking Refinance? Help From HARP, HAMP Ends This YearIf you’re struggling to make your monthly mortgage payment, you probably feel like you’re drowning. There are two lifelines available to you. The Home Affordable Refinance Program and Home Affordable Modification Program, also known as the HARP loan and HAMP, provide relief to homeowners who might be in danger of losing their homes.

You might be eligible to refinance through one of these programs. While HAMP expires Dec. 31, 2016, HARP was just extended through Sept. 30, 2017. Here’s a closer look at the benefits and eligibility requirements for HARP and HAMP.

What is a HARP loan?

Created in 2009, the HARP loan has helped nearly 3.3 million borrowers reduce their monthly payments, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which administers the program.

Ways a HARP loan can help:

  • Shortens your loan term.
  • Transfers from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate loan.
  • Bundles closing costs into the new loan.
  • Requires less paperwork than a traditional refinance, making the application process smoother.

Who’s eligible?
You might qualify if …

  • Your loan is owned or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • You owe more on your mortgage than your house is worth, or your current loan-to-value ratio is over 80%.
  • You are current on your mortgage payments.
  • You haven’t made a payment more than 30 days late in the past six months and more than one late payment in the past year.
  • Your home is your primary residence, a second home or an investment property.
  • Your mortgage originated on or before May 31, 2009.
  • You applied for a HARP loan before and were declined. With expanded eligibility, more people are now able to benefit from HARP.

To apply for a HARP loan, gather your financial and loan information, such as mortgage statements, including information on a second mortgage (if you have one), recent paystubs and your most recent income tax return. You’ll need this documentation when you speak to your lender. Call your lender to ask about refinancing through HARP, or contact a HARP-approved lender through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

What is HAMP?

When an unexpected event strikes — such as job loss, serious illness or disability, or the death of a spouse/partner — it can become nearly impossible to make your monthly mortgage payment. That’s where HAMP, which modifies your existing loan, comes in. The program gives you breathing room by adjusting the interest rate, extending your loan term or reducing your principal, according to the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agencies that administer HAMP.

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I agree with Michael Cheng. If you have a great credit score, stable, verifiable income, verifiable cash on hand or assets, you are a dream client. By comparison shopping, you will be able to obtain a Loan Estimate from at least three different types of lenders: Talk with the mortgage department of where you currently bank. You already have a banking relationship with them. This is a good place to start. Next, apply with a local, licensed non-bank mortgage lender. Somebody located in the town in which you live.  Last, apply with a local mortgage broker.

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