Last reviewed July 5, 2015

2015 HARP Refinance Options

HARP lenders ease loan standards

More Borrowers Qualify For HARP

In 2009, the government launched its Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). At the time, mortgage rates were near six percent, and the typical HARP loan saved consumers $3,000 annually

Today, though, with average mortgage rates falling to near four percent, annual HARP savings are far eclipsing that $3,000 figure from just 5 years ago. Today’s typical HARP household saves 28% on payments per month -- more than $4,400 per year.

Even better, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Mortgage Credit Availability Index, it’s getting easy to get a mortgage.

The Mortgage Credit Availability Index measures how easy or difficult it is to get a mortgage, as compared to the March 2012, when the index was launched. A score above 100 suggests that mortgages are easier to get than they were in March 2012.

Scores above 100 suggest that mortgages are easier difficult to get. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index now reads 122

This is good news for the millions of HARP-eligible households; and other U.S. homes looking to refinance. Even homeowners with less-than-perfect may be able to refinance to today's low rates.

Check today’s HARP Refinance rates.

HARP Program Investor Overlays

The Home Affordable Refinance Program is run through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The agencies publish an official rulebook for the program known as “HARP guidelines” which list minimum qualification standards.

However, since the program’s launch last decade, individual mortgage lenders have imposed their own standards beyond Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s minimums.

These “added” rules are known as investor overlays.

As an investor overlay illustration, Fannie Mae’s official guidelines state that a borrower can have one late mortgage payment in the last 12 months, as long as the late payment was not within the previous six months.

There are several HARP lenders, though, which prohibit a borrowers from having any late payments whatsoever in the last 12 months.

Other HARP mortgage investor overlays include:

  • HARP guideline: No more than one late payment in the last 12 months
  • Investor overlay: No late payments at all in the last 12 months
  • HARP guideline:  No loan-to-value (LTV) limit
  • Investor overlay: LTV limits of 150% of the home’s current value 
  • HARP guideline: No appraisal needed with an appraisal waiver
  • Investor overlay: An appraisal is always needed
  • HARP guideline: No credit score minimum in most cases
  • Investor overlay: Minimum score of 640 to qualify

Investor overlays can affect a wide range of qualification standards including payment history, FICO score, and debt-to-income ratios; and, overlays vary from bank-to-bank. Just because Wells Fargo enforces and overlay, for example, that doesn't mean that Bank of America will.

Check today’s HARP Refinance rates.

HARP Refinance Qualifications Are Easier

Each year, because of investor overlays, thousands of HARP-eligible households are turned down for HARP for no reason other than they applied with “the wrong bank”.

If you’ve been turned down for the HARP program in the past, therefore, consider applying for HARP again.

As the housing market continues its recovery, lenders are loosening loan guidelines nd making it easier to get a HARP loan approval.

It’s a welcome relief for deserving HARP-eligible homeowners and, because there’s no restriction against applying for HARP a second -- or even third – time, it’s a good time to re-apply for the loan.

More than 3 million households have already used HARP. You could be next.

Get HARP Mortgage Rates

HARP households typically save more than 30% per year on their home loan payments. Many homeowners are surprised at how big they're monthly and lifetime savings are.

Today’s HARP mortgage guidelines are more lenient than they have been in the past. Take advantage of this opportunity. A personalized HARP rate quote is free of charge and comes with no obligation.

Click here to check today’s HARP Refinance rates.

The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.

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