HARP Hotline 866-661-0581

HARP Program Lenders

HARP Application Process

HARP Application

Thanks to simplified guidelines and an easier to understand application process, recent changes to HARP has made it easier than ever to take advantage of what it can offer. By removing things like mortgage insurance restrictions, appraisal requirements, and Loan to Value caps, HARP 2.0 is worth a closer look even if you've been denied an earlier HARP loan.

And since the new HARP program encourages borrowers to actually shop around and find the best possible mortgage company for their situation, it's possible to get the lowest rates out there and get a refinance loan that will help in countless ways. Finding out more about the application process is the first step towards improved financial security.


  • Applying For A HARP Loan


    Video Credit: FinishRich.com

    The HARP Loan program is a bit different than typical mortgages, at least in terms of the eligibility requirements in place and the overall qualifications needed to receive the loan. However, while it's different in that respect the overall process of applying for a HARP loan is fairly similar to a traditional home refinance process.

    HARP loans are designed to help those with underwater mortgages, and it's usually much easier to qualify for them than other loans. Still, you'll need to make sure that you meet some basic qualifications before you begin the process of applying for your loan. Be sure that you meet the following criteria before you go any further.

    1. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac must own your loan
    2. They must have taken over your loan prior to May 31, 2009
    3. You must be current on your mortgage payments
    4. You must not have refinanced through HARP previously
    5. You must owe a mortgage balance that is over 80% of your home's value
    6. You need to be able to verify employment and income
    7. A refinance through HARP must lower your rate or reduce your payment term essentially, it needs to improve some aspect of your current loan.
    8. You must have no late payments in the last 6 months and no more than 1 late payment in the last year
    9. You should be planning on staying in your home for some time after the refinance.

    There are some other stipulations that may exist, but in general these are the main points you'll need to meet. If you can meet these basic requirements, the chances of qualifying for a HARP loan are incredibly good. You may want to consider finding a lender and getting started with the application process so you can secure a loan that will actually improve your current financial situation.

  • Getting Started With Your HARP Application

    HARP Application The HARP program, also called the Home Affordable Refinance Program, was designed to help millions of Americans suffering from underwater mortgages and other similar unfavorable mortgage situations. And while it started out rocky, new changes made to the requirements have made it easier to qualify for this program and take advantage of everything it can offer.

    By lowering interest rates, reducing loan durations, and moving homeowners from risky mortgages to stable fixed rate ones, HARP has made it possible for homeowners to get the help they need. Of course, you'll still have to go through the process of applying for the program, submitting paperwork to your lender, and going through the closing process.

    Before you begin the application process, you'll want to make sure that you qualify and that it's a program that is right for you. Do a small bit of online research first, and then speak to your local mortgage lender to find out for sure whether or not it's something that will work for you. If it is, you'll be ready to start the process and get yourself moving towards the loan you need. Now, closing costs can even be moved into your new loan so it's even more affordable than you may think.

    Here are the basic steps you'll want to take when you begin the HARP application process. Understanding them ahead of time should help you know what to expect and avoid any confusion once the process begins. It's fairly easy to get a good idea of what the process involves, and the truth is that it's really much easier than you may suspect.

    Find Out Who Holds Your Loan

    Your loan will only be eligible for HARP refinancing if either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac is the current owner. To find out which one owns your loan, visit their official websites. They have easy to use loan lookup tools that let you look up your loan within seconds and determine who holds it at the moment. You also need to make sure they acquired your loan prior to May 31, 2009 in order to be eligible. Once you know who holds your loan, you'll be ready to get started.

    Submit Your Pre-Application

    The initial application will actually be a kind of 'pre-application'. It consists of some very basic information including name, date of birth, social security number, address, phone, and some current payment information. There may or may not be additional information required, and it will largely depend upon your loan, your credit score, your income, and who holds your loan. This initial application can be filled out yourself and sent to your HARP specialist, or you can talk to an expert and let them gather the information over the phone or in person. They'll tell you where rates are and what your odds of qualifying are. Once you've made your pre-application, you'll have the ball rolling.

    Credit Checks And Initial Approval

    The initial application starts things moving, and once you've submitted it the lender will then run your credit and run the application itself. This process gets an initial approval from either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and also gives the lender any additional information about what other information is required, if any. This initial process also helps find out an initial estimated value, determine whether or not an appraisal is needed, and generally move the process of applying for and qualifying for the HARP loan forwards. It can take time, and in some cases things may need to be addressed during the process. For instance, occasional appraisals may have to be performed. They're not required by HARP guidelines, but lenders may need them in order to determine the specifics of a loan. Throughout this stage of the process you can expect to stay in regular communication with your HARP expert who will keep you updated about where the process is and what is happening. This way, no surprises will occur.

    Sign Disclosures and Collect Documentation

    There is also another form known as a 1003 pronounced 'ten o three' that will have to be signed and dated. This can be done in a lender's office or through fax/mail, and involves several papers including things like a truth in lending disclosure, an explanation of your rights, a good faith estimate, and more. Along with this document, there are some additional documents that may need to be provided by the borrower. These vary depending on the situation but could include the following: *Current payment coupons for mortgages *Two year's tax returns and/or W-2s *Two month's pay stubs *Documentation of child support *Letters of explanation for any specific special circumstances *Social security or pension reward letters *Month's bank statements *Hazard Insurance documents

    Submit Package to Underwriting

    Once the package has been filled out which in most cases means little beyond signing some basic forms and providing the above mentioned documents the process really takes off. At this point, the lending company you're using will begin completing several different things. Ordering payoffs and a preliminary title report will be the first steps, for instance. Usually there is little you'll do at this stage of the game, but in some cases you may be contacted for additional things. One example of this will be in situations where a second mortgage is present. A second mortgage doesn't eliminate you from being eligible for a HARP loan, but you may need to participate in a subordination process. Second mortgages may have to be subordinated, and if so you may have to fill out some basic forms or in rare cases pay additional fees. These fees are usually for processing on the part of the holder of the second mortgage and rarely exceed a few hundred dollars. It's still important to understand this process so you will be prepared for it if it arises.

    The Waiting Game

    Now the hard part arrives. After you complete all the work filling out your forms, answering any additional requirements, and generally participating in the process of submitting your application, all the work will pause and there is little left that you can do but wait. While lenders try their best to keep things moving briskly, the fact is that there has been an overwhelming influx of applications for the HARP program in the last year. This means that response times have grown. In the early days of HARP, responses were often given within 24 hours. Now, waits of up to 4 weeks or more are common. It can be frustrating and nerve-wracking to have to wait for so long, and it's easy to feel like something has gone wrong. But refer back to number 3 in this list and remember that your initial approval is likely to remain in place. At this point it's really more of a matter of going through the red tape involved in a loan of this type than anything else and as long as all documentation and information is in order you'll end up with the approval you're waiting on. There are millions of people who have applied or will be applying for help through this program, and most banks have reminded their loan officers not to simply tell everyone that they're going to get approved for their loan. Honest feedback is better than an outright lie, and if you've taken the time to find the right HARP lender then you'll probably already have a solid, honest idea of whether or not you're going to get approval or if there are any issues you may need to be concerned about. Also bear in mind that during this time you may decide that you're not getting the attention you deserve. The fact is that it's fairly easy to get discouraged. Be honest in your assessment of the situation, but if you begin to think that you're not getting accurate information from your loan officer, don't hesitate to contact someone and speak to the m about the process. Dishonest or under qualified mortgage specialists will only harm your chances of getting the loan you need and will also only hurt the overall HARP program.

    Approval!

    Once you get approval you'll notice things speed up tremendously. You may end up getting a list of conditions that have to be met prior to finalizing your loan. These things could be things like up to date pay stubs, title policy correction, and other minor issues. Usually this part of the process is fast and involves very little work on anyone's part. Once approval has occurred, your lender will lock in your interest rate. In most cases a lock period runs around 15 to 30 days. The shorter the period the better your interest rates will usually be. Some experienced lenders will actually be able to monitor the market and gauge where rates are and where they'll be within a week or so. They'll use this information to secure you the absolute best mortgage rate they can get. This is one more reason why finding the best possible loan officer is so important. There's a fine balance between waiting too long on the lock period and seeing rates and fees increase and finding that perfect interest rate and locking it in. By this point in the process you'll know whether or not you have a HARP representative you can trust. If not, you should have changed officers long ago. If so, you should be able to relax knowing that they'll take care of this part of the loan. If you're still nervous, remember that the government has basically put everyone on an even level for getting mortgage rates. Compensation for a loan officer can't be connected to rate levels. This means that loan originators will charge the same rate to everyone, from friends to family members to total strangers. There's no preferential treatment and no preferential rates.

    Sign The Documents

    When approval is secured and the rate locked in, it will be time to close. This process is usually completed in an attorney's office or with the help of a mobile notary, but it still means the same thing. You'll show up and sign the appropriate documents, at which point you're pretty much finished with the process. Your lender will be sure to schedule the closing appointment at a date that works for you while still making sure it ends up applying your loan to the correct month so no additional fees are applied to the loan. You'll also have three days to decide to rescind your agreement. After that 3 day period is up, your loan will be funded and be recorded. At that point, you'll move to the rules and stipulations that apply in the new loan. That means you'll start enjoying the new interest rate, lower payments, and any other terms of your new loan.

    It's important to mention that throughout this process you will have to continue making your monthly mortgage payments. In some cases it can take more than a month for a HARP refinance to be completed and in rare cases it has taken two months. Some unscrupulous lenders have advised clients to 'hold off' on paying their current mortgage payments. Simply put, this is terrible advice and something that may actually make you ineligible for your new HARP loan. Keep paying your existing mortgage until you know that your new loan is in place, finalized, and the only one you have to worry about.

    HARP has already helped millions, and it's really in your best interests to look into what it can do for you. The points above should help highlight how simple it really is to apply for the loan and qualify for it. Just remember that it may take a bit of patience on your part, but that the end result could be well worth it. Additionally, be sure to take the time to find the best lending professional to help you through the process. Their help will be instrumental in making sure you go through the process as smoothly as possible.

  • Questions About Applying and HARP Guidelines

    HARP Application Questions The HARP program is something that has already helped more than 1 million American homeowners, and there is a good chance that if you have a mortgage with negative equity, HARP could help you as well. However, the program itself has changed since it was first introduced in 2009, and in 2011 there were many major changes designed to make it easier for homeowners to qualify. The evolution of the program, combined with the simple fact that some aspects of it are worded in 'legal speak' means that plenty of people have been confused at one aspect of it or another. However, if you're confused about any aspect of HARP - from what it is to how to qualify to how to apply - you can find help quickly by contacting an experienced HARP consultant.

    Before you do, you may be able to get answers just be looking through the following. These common questions frequently come up during the process of learning more about HARP, applying for HARP, and qualifying for HARP. Look over these questions to see if they answer some of your own.

    Can closing costs be rolled into the new HARP loan?

    Yes. Closing costs can be rolled into a HARP loan, although cash-out refinances are not allowed through HARP so keep this in mind.

    Can I refinance my loan even though I have negative equity?

    Absolutely. In fact, that's exactly what the HARP program was created for. With the housing bubble burst of the mid to late 2000s, the value of homes across the country plummeted. This left millions with loans that were for more than their homes were worth. Other issues like rising monthly payments only made the situation worse, and the negative equity meant that receiving a better loan with lower rates or better terms was nearly impossible for homeowners. The HARP program is designed just for homeowners who have no equity to negative equity, and only those with an 80% loan to value ratio are even eligible for the loan. The loan also helps those with negative equity start working towards building equity again by moving from a 30 year mortgage to a 20 year mortgage that will lower monthly payments and also start reducing an existing loan balance quicker than the 30 year mortgage will. With that in mind, those with negative equity aren't just eligible for the loan, they're also actively encouraged to apply for it since they're the main focus of it.

    Can I refinance my first and second mortgages into a single loan through HARP?

    No. While second mortgages won't disqualify you from receiving a HARP loan, you are not allowed to roll the two mortgages into one. However, the program has made it easier and faster to re-subordinate a second mortgage or home equity loan. This helps simplify the process for those with a second mortgage in most cases.

    Can anyone submit an application for a HARP refinance loan?

    Sadly, no. You won't be able to submit an application if you have already refinanced through HARP before. Additionally, your loan must currently be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the two largest lenders in the country. Your loan also must have an origination date of before May 31, 2009. If you don't meet these basic requirements, you won't be able to submit an application.

    What are the rules about appraisals when applying for HARP?

    Appraisals are no longer an outright requirement when applying for a HARP refinance. Instead, most lenders use automated values to save time and money that an appraisal would cost. When an automated valuation model - AVM for short - can be used to estimate property values, no appraisals are needed. These models use home type, size, and location and compare it to others on the market to determine an average value. In instances when no AVM exists, an appraisal may still be required. It's important to understand that an appraisal won't ruin your chances of getting a loan through HARP since there are no LTV caps in place. But appraisals can be expensive, and you'll want to make sure you are fully approved for the HARP loan before shelling out the money needed to pay for an appraisal.

    Am I required to use my current lender with a HARP loan?

    No. The guidelines for HARP refinance loans make it very clear that borrowers are not required to apply for a loan through their current lender. In fact, most experts agree that your best bet is to take the time to shop around and compare terms and rates from several different lenders in order to find the one that works best for you. There are numerous lenders out there who handle HARP refinancing, and it's always in your best interest to shop around. However, keep in mind that those who are behind on payments but still eligible for a modification on their loan won't be able to change lenders. Only your current lender will be able to help you in these situations.

    Can I refinance if I have Private Mortgage Insurance

    Yes, you can. The only stipulation concerning this is that the amount of private mortgage insurance on your new HARP loan will have to match the coverage you had in place on the existing loan.

    Can I refinance through HARP if I have a late payment in my mortgage history?

    HARP is designed for responsible homeowners, which means that late payments are not something that will be taken lightly. However, recent changes have made it slightly more forgiving for those who have had only one or two issues. You will still have to have absolutely no late payments over the last 6 months in order to qualify. But the new guidelines do allow applicants to have one late payment within the last 12 months. That means that as long as you have no more than 1 late payment in that span of time. Still, remember that timely mortgage payments are the single most important factor in deciding whether or not to approve most HARP loans. The better your payment history, the better your chances of qualifying will be.

    I already have a good loan. Can I still refinance through HARP?

    Most likely, no. HARP guidelines state that the refinance loan must improve the previous one in one or more ways. This means that the new loan must move a borrower out of an adjustable rate mortgage or other risky mortgage, lower monthly payments, or reduce the term of the loan from 30 years to a 15 or 20 year loan. If you already have a good fixed rate mortgage with a low interest rate, you likely won't be eligible for HARP assistance. Additionally, your LTV must be 80% or higher in order to qualify. If you're not in an underwater mortgage you simply can't get a HARP loan.

    HARP has helped more than 1.1 million people get out of bad mortgages and take better control of their financial situation. If you're dealing with an underwater mortgage, the program could help. These points should give you a better idea of just what to expect from the loan program and how to figure out if you qualify. Once you know the basics you'll be ready to take the first steps towards a better loan.