HARP 2. Underwater Refinance Program changes announced

FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Announce HARP Changes to Reach More Borrowers

Washington, DC – The Federal Housing Finance Agency, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), today announced a series of changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) in an effort to attract more eligible borrowers who can benefit from refinancing their home mortgage. The program enhancements were developed at FHFA’s direction with input from lenders, mortgage insurers and other industry participants.

“We know that there are many homeowners who are eligible to refinance under HARP and those are the borrowers we want to reach,” said FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco. “Building on the industry’s experience with HARP over the last two years, we have identified several changes that will make the program accessible to more borrowers with mortgages owned or guaranteed by the Enterprises.

Our goal in pursuing these changes is to create refinancing opportunities for these borrowers, while reducing risk for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and bringing a measure of stability to housing markets.” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have helped approximately 9 million families refinance into a lower cost or more sustainable mortgage product, approximately 10 percent of those via HARP.

HARP is unique in that it is the only refinance program that enables borrowers who owe more than their home is worth to take advantage of low interest rates and other refinancing benefits. This program will continue to be available to borrowers with loans sold to the Enterprises on or before May 31, 2009 with current loan-t0-value (LTV) ratios above 80 percent.

The new program enhancements address several other key aspects of HARP including:

  1. Eliminating certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term mortgages and lowering fees for other borrowers;
  2. Removing the current 125 percent LTV ceiling for fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  3. Waiving certain representations and warranties that lenders commit to in making loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  4. Eliminating the need for a new property appraisal where there is a reliable AVM (automated valuation model) estimate provided by the Enterprises; and
  5. Extending the end date for HARP until Dec. 31, 2013 for loans originally sold to the Enterprises on or before May 31, 2009.

An important element of these changes is the encouragement, through elimination of certain risk-based fees, for borrowers to utilize HARP to refinance into shorter-term mortgages. Borrowers who owe more on their house than the house is worth will be able to reduce the balance owed much faster if they take advantage of today’s low interest rates by shortening the term of their mortgage.

The Enterprises plan to issue guidance with operational details about the HARP changes to mortgage lenders and servicers by November 15.  Since industry participation in HARP is not mandatory, implementation schedules will vary as individual lenders, mortgage insurers and other market participants modify their processes.

Borrower Eligibility

In general, borrowers must meet the following criteria:

  1. The mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
  2. The mortgage must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009.
  3. The mortgage cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously unless it is a Fannie Mae loan that was refinanced under HARP from March-May, 2009.
  4. The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80%.
  5. The borrower must be current on the mortgage at the time of the refinance, with no late payment in the past six months and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.

Homeowners can determine if they have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan by going to:

FANNIE MAE LOOKUP or calling 800-7FANNIE (8 am to 8 pm ET)

FREDDIE MAC LOOKUP or 800-FREDDIE (8 am to 8 pm ET)


Refinancing? Common mistakes to avoid

Mortgage Interest Rates are near historic lows. You want to refinance?
Common mistakes, and what NOT To Do

There are a lot of things “not to do”. I will point out only the 3 most common mistakes I see people make.

  1. Setting an unrealistic goal. I always get inquiries from people who say something like, “I have a 30 year fixed rate loan at 5.875% and I will refinance ONLY when rates get to 4.0% with no closing costs”. Sometimes I call people back and say, “Why 4%? why not 3% or 2%? They say, “Well rates are not going to go that low”. Right and they are unlikely to go to 4% with no closing costs also (“no closing cost” loans typically cost anywhere from 1/2% to .75% higher than the going interest rate) You should first succumb to the fact that once you can lower your rate with no out of pocket expense, you should probably refinance. Don’t draw unrealistic interest rate lines in the sand. They get blown away too easily.
  2. The “Once rates start dropping, they are going to continue to drop and I’m smart and I am going to lock when rates hit the bottom of the market” syndrome. It is very hard to guess the interest-rate cycle, and pretty hard to catch the bottom. Remember that rates can rise fairly quickly.
  3. “If the rate goes down just another 1/8th percent, then I’ll lock” This one just kills me! I see people lose all the time over this theory. If your current rate is 5.875% and today’s rate is 4.875%. LOCK & CLOSE! Most people have what I call “interest rate block”. They get a rate stuck in their head, and that is the rate they want, no matter what. Most people fail to realize (and most loan officers fail to show them), that the difference on the average loan over 1/8th a percent is usually less than $15 per month. If you can save $150 per month on your loan at today’s rate, why gamble? Why hold out for another $15 when the odds are against you?

Don’t get piggy. Work with us. Set a goal and lock when it gets there. Are we going to hit the bottom? Probably not. Are we going to save you money? Yes. If you can save money with no out of pocket costs, than you have nothing to lose. If you want to gamble go to Las Vegas. It’s a heck of a lot more fun. Apply Now

Extra Tricks to Save Money When Refinancing

The purpose of most refinance loans is simply to save money. The goal is to minimize your expense over the life of the loan or to minimize your monthly payment in the near future.

If you can swing it, don’t roll every cost of refinancing into your new loan. Most people escrow for taxes and insurance. If you do, your current lender must give you escrow refund within 30 days of paying off their loan. Your new lender, be it us or someone else, must take the equivalent amount of money (or more) at closing to start the new escrow account.

Remember that you always get to skip a month of payments. If you close June 5th, your first new payment is August 1st.

Knowing this, paying some of your closing costs out-of-pocket will save you even more money in the long run. Why roll in $4000 in closing costs, when you really only need to roll in $2000 ($1000 escrow refund + $1000 missed payment = $2000). Paying that $2000 over 30 years doesn’t make sense if you don’t have too.

On the other hand, some people love the fact that they didn’t pay anything out of pocket to refinance, got a nice escrow refund check, then got to miss a mortgage payment. They use the ‘extra’ money to pay bills, go on vacation, etc.

Picking a Lender & Closing Costs

Shopping for a home loan is confusing. No matter what we’re looking for — from cars to refrigerators’ — there’s a built-in element of confusion. Why? Lack of knowledge. An unfortunate rule of thumb is that the less we know about something we need to buy, the more we can expect to pay for it.

Shopping for a mortgage in Minneapolis, St Paul, Duluth, Rochester, Madison, Milwaukee, and throughout all of Minnesota and Wisconsin is complex at best — even for the savvy previous home owner. Daily rate changes, time-sensitive lock-in periods, points, lender’s fees… plus the emotional element of probably the largest financial deal any of us will ever make. Throw in to this already murky stew the ingredients of tricky internet mortgage rate advertising, commissions for every officer, agent and broker who ‘helps’ in your transaction, and the obscure differences between ‘rates’ and ‘fees.’ It’s no mystery that many buyers settle for a home loan that exceeds their monetary means out of sheer exasperation!

Please review our information on closing costs and “BAD Good Faith Estimates“. There is currently a large number of fly-by-night lenders doing some incredibly misleading rate & closing cost advertising. Remember, if it sounds too good, it probably is! Also check out my article “Best Rate or Lowest Cost” for more loan comparison information.

The Bottom Line
Remember, the first rule is that there are no rules. You should refinance if it makes sense for you. Every person & situation is different. What makes sense for one family, may not make sense for you. Call me today to discuss your wants, needs, and goals. Together we’ll determine if refinancing makes sense for YOU.

Click here for more information on the actual loan process.
Click here for
10 Tips to a Smooth Closing
Click here for
10 Mistakes to Avoid


NAR fees are up, and I’m on a budget

NAR fees are up, advertising costs are up, real estate sales are down, but as a Real Estate Agent, you need to find more clients, and you need to do it on a budget. Here are a few simple tools to increase your business and make more money from Joe Metzler at Mortgages Unlimited, and the Mn Real Estate Daily Show.

Thoughts? Log in and Post!


What is HomeSteps and HomePath?

You’ve seen the logo’s, but what is HomePath and HomeSteps?

Fannie Mae HomePath lender in MN and WIThe HomePath and HomeSteps programs allows a person to buy a specially designated Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owned foreclosed property with a low down payment, flexible mortgage terms, no lender-requested appraisal and no mortgage insurance. Expanded seller contributions to closing costs are allowed as well

Freddie Mac HomeSteps lender in MN and WIHow Does It Work?
Simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Apply with a lender. Get Pre-Approved. Just qualify for a traditional financing with at least 3% down.
  • Meet with a Realtor – Look at homes, buy your dream house.  You MUST select a home to buy from a special list of available foreclosed properties
  • Close and move in!

Where can I see the list of available houses?
Easy. Contact a Real Estate Agent,  and they’ll show you a list of qualified HomePath and HomeStep properties.

What about closing costs?
Closing costs can be rolled into the transaction, up to 6% of the loan amount.

How do I get started?
It all starts with a no obligation application, and a visit to a special lender offering the programs.

 

Buying a home in MN or WI? Click here for a HomePath, HomeSteps lender in MN and WI, or call (651) 705-6261, where one of their specially trained Loan Officers will assist you.


Buying a Home in 2011 is a Good Idea

Rent vs Buy minneapolis st paul mn Mortgage first time home buyerBuying a Home in 2011 is a Good Idea

Minneapolis, MN: As we enter the traditional spring home buying market, many people are trying to decide if owning a home is better than renting. Renting may be preferable for some folks… but there’s a reason 68% of Americans choose home ownership over rent.

Here are several very good reasons to own:

  • Mortgage interest and property tax deductions
  • Appreciation
  • Amazingly low mortgage interest rates
  • Home Affordability is at an all time high.
  • Ability to decorate, remodel, modify or enlarge the structure
  • Build up of equity and ability to borrow against that equity
  • Capital gains exclusions (up to $500K for a married couple)

Use this online “Rent vs Buy” calculator – it’s Free!

 


HARP – Home Affordable Refinance Program for underwater

(edit: New guidelines issued 10/24/2011 – Click here for new rules)
HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program for underwater homeowners has been extended until June 2012

St Paul, MN: The Home Affordable Refinance Program was set to expire this June 30th, but has been extended one year until June 2012. The extension is great news, as HARP has been about the only success story of all the government programs attempting to stem the tide of foreclosures.

Basically if your existing first mortgage is held by Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac, and that first mortgage is LESS than 125% of today’s value, you may qualify and be able to take advantage of today’s low rates for refinancing.

To bring even more meat to the grill, Freddie Mac has also announced they WILL NOT add recently announce cost (rate) increases to this program.

Do you qualify for HARP? Check HERE


Affordable Advantage Zero Down Payment Program in MN

Zero Down Payment Home Loans for first time home buyers are back in Minnesota with the new AFFORDABLE ADVANTAGE program.

Read moreAffordable Advantage Zero Down Payment Program in MN