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Will HARP Help You Refinance?

Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) was introduced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Treasury Department in April 2009. Its goal is to let borrowers with falling home values refinance mortgages into more manageable payments and/or interest rates. The program is currently set to expire on December 31, 2013.

Do you qualify?
You may be able to qualify for HARP if:

  • Your loan is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  • Your current mortgage was in place prior to June 1, 2009
  • Your home loan has been paid on-time for the prior 6 months, and at least 11 of the most recent 12 months
  • You have not used the HARP program before for the same mortgage
  • Your loan to value ratio is more than 80% (otherwise you would probably qualify for traditional refinancing)
  • Can refinance second homes and investment property, as well as primary residences
  • No maximum LTV limit if you are refinancing to a fixed rate (maximum LTV if refinancing to adjustable rate mortgage is 105%)
  • Market rates, points and fees as charged by lender
  • On-site appraisals are often not required
  • Can't take advantage of the program if existing mortgage is not held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and if you refinanced or purchased your home after May 31, 2009
  • Can't refinance a home equity line or any other type of second mortgage
  • Can't consolidate mortgages and refinance the total
  • No cash out refinancing
  • No jumbo rate or balloon mortgages

I can help you figure out if a HARP loan is right for you. Give me a call at 888-524-1183.

April's Home Value Improver

5 Essential Home Maintenance Tasks

Home improvement centers are doing a booming business as everyone gets a jump on their spring home maintenance chores. What's on your To Do list? Experts say that these are the five essentials that should be on everyone's list for spring:

  1. Inspect the roof
    Make sure your roof is in good condition before spring and summer rains. Roof leaks can lead to electrical problems, rot and water damage to the interior of your home. A little preventive maintenance is well worth the effort.
  2. Clean gutters
    Pine needles and fall leaves can clog your gutters and back water up into your home. Clean your gutters so they can do their job effectively.
  3. Clean and repair windows and screens
    Open your windows wide to let in the spring breezes, but make sure your screens don't have any holes that could welcome in bugs as well. This is a good time to check the caulking around the windows and reseal.
  4. Check the foundation
    Look for cracks in the foundation that could provide an avenue for water seepage into your basement. Also check to make sure that water flows away from the foundation to prevent basement floods. You can repair small foundation cracks yourself, but consider hiring a professional if you need to regrade your land or address significant basement water problems.
  5. Clean out dryer vents
    Lint builds up in dryer vents even if you clean your lint screen with every dryer load. Clogged vents are a fire hazard, so be sure to clean out the exhaust hose and vacuum the filter hole.

Westchester Mortgage

April 2012

One of my clients came to me because he wanted to refinance his first mortgage and home equity line. He was shocked to find that his home was worth $70,000 less than he thought and he couldn't qualify for conventional refinancing.

If you are caught in a similar situation, you're not alone. CNN recently reported that 22.8% of all homeowners with mortgages are now underwater, meaning that they owe more than their homes are worth. They are stuck paying higher interest rates because they don't have the loan-to-value ratio required to refinance.

The federal government is trying to help through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). In this issue of the newsletter, we take a look at the pros and cons of the HARP program and how it might be able to help you. Please give me a call if you would like more information.

Best regards,
Debbie Siegel
Westchester Mortgage

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